Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Bean Game

The Bean Game is a lean simulation that demonstrates the Theory of Constraints (just like the Bottleneck Game) using beans and dice for production. There are 4 types of beans, so you can probably use any kind of small item for this game, as long as they fit in cups and there are 4 varieties. I've heard people doing similar exercises with M and M's. You also need 15 dice to roll for the customer demand.

Update: This game is no longer available. Links are all broken after WSU updated their website, so they have been removed. 

This one comes with all the instructions for putting the game together, but no handouts or individual work instructions. There's 36 pages of goodness in this simulation. In particular, this game has good documentation for tracking profits and losses, as well as methods to calculate buffers for each area, i.e. how much inventory to hold at each location and what the order point should be.

Like most advanced simulations, you could spend all day running it, calculating the appropriate buffers in each area. But I'm sure you can also use it simply to illustrate the difference between a conventional batch production system and a lean system, running it twice in an hour or so.

It is a higher level simulation that may be best suited for managers and accountants. Personally I prefer the simple games where the participants actually have to build something, whether it be out of paper or Lego bricks. The constraints are created in the actual fabrication process.

The Bean Game is in Powerpoint format and can be found at the Washington State University website. (not available anymore).

There are also a few more games on this page dealing with the Theory of Constraints and replenishment buffers: (sorry, this is gone, too)


  1. Hi. Links do not work.
    Thanks for all!

    1. Thanks for letting me know. After some searching online, I can't seem to find any other place where this is hosted. So unfortunately, we are out of luck..