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Using Goldratt's dice-game to introduce system dynamics models and simulation analysis

Published Online:pp 363-376

The management approach called Theory of Constraints (TOC) suggested two decades ago that the variation of performance in dependent activities would affect within impressive manner on throughput, but as well as on the level of Work-In-Process (WIP) inventories. This became familiar with the dice-game, where dependent activities had the same average production capacity, but quite significant amount of variation. Playing this game in P/OM courses will, without a doubt, create understanding on how performance could be improved in production, and foster the deductive thinking skills of all the participating students. However, according to our experiences from seven years of P/OM lecturing, it is very beneficial to use this situation to introduce simulation concepts. For example, building a system dynamics model from dice-game is rather easy, and analysing, as well as understanding the simulation results, becomes significantly interesting for all students in the audience, since they all share connection to this model. Within two hours of lecture, students have absorbed the main issues of manufacturing flow management and system dynamics simulation models. We argue that this is a powerful formula for P/OM lecturers to be used in future courses.


statistical dependency, dice game, system dynamics, simulation, production management education, operations management education, POM courses, throughput, work-in-process, WIP inventories, theory of constraints, TOC, Goldratt, production capacity, production preformance, performance improvement, manufacturing flow management, drum-buffer-rope, production control, modelling, system behaviour, performance analysis