Supply Chain Learning | KLU



experiential_learning


Experiential Learning in Supply Chain Management

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing – as Aristotle pointed out almost 2,400 years ago, learning is about gaining experience. To manage future supply chains, students need to acquire knowledge in numerous fields from mathematical modeling to negotiation skills. However, students need to learn fast in order to keep pace with the constantly accelerating complexity of our supply chains. Different learning styles are available to teach students those supply chain concepts that can make the difference between failure and success. A teaching method that has proven very effective is experiential learning: students learn directly from their own experience.

A classic experiential learning in supply chain management has been around for many years: MIT’s beer game. In a fascinating simple and concise way, generations of students have played the beer game to understand the supply chain dynamics that trigger the bullwhip effect. Departing from the classic beer game many extensions in experiential learning for supply chain management have been made. However, the simplicity and frugality of the beer game has often been lost when students were required to read through thick manuals and spend days to prepare and conduct games.

At Kühne Logistics University and University of Cologne, Prof. Dr. Kai Hoberg has worked on developing experiential learning games for teaching supply chain management. He focuses on simplicity while carving out the core learning objective. Certain games are played by the entire class whereas other games are performed by a group of students that is observed and evaluated by the class. In other settings, students conduct role plays to highlight problems that are further analyzed. The range of topics spans from very strategic issues around supply chain design or supply chain finance to very operational issues in warehousing. Here is a selection of games that provides an overview on different experiential learning approaches.

  • Postponement: Students manage a fashion supply chain and learn how postponement and design-for-supply-chain can be beneficial in settings with long lead times and high demand uncertainty.
  • Warehouse Picking: Students observe warehouse operations of few students who are picking parts for distribution. Different picking schemas are compared, performance is observed and aligned picking schemas are developed.
  • Service Level Alignment: Students observe discussions between sales managers and supply chain planners and analyze data to realize that the service level definition that is applied in the firm does not reflect customer requirements.

We are happy to provide you with more information as required. Please feel free to contact Kai Hoberg for materials or discussions on experiential supply chain management learning.