"So – what did you learn?"

(excerpted from a newly-added chapter in The Pipeline)

“So – what did you learn?”, asked the intrepid, results-based consultant, walking to the flipchart and making a new list.  “More importantly – how will you apply those lessons in terms of how you manage RB Builders’ production system?

“These are all production principles we have discussed in previous sessions.  When you remember the lessons from the game, remember the principles.”

Connection – Throughput, Inventory, Operating Expense;  T-I-OE
Constraints v. the unlimited capacity myth
Balanced Capacity v. Unbalanced Capacity
Resources:  non-constraint and constraint
Resources:  “smart” v. “strong”
Reserve Capacity and Inventory:  buffering the system from variation
Improving the process:  removing muda and non-value-adding work 


Following the first “discovery learning” session, RB Builders began involving more teammates in game situations designed to simulate homebuilding production.

RB Builders incorporated new versions of the game, such as:  (1) having game scenarios in which multiple building companies competed in a single market for a finite number of available new home sales, in order to demonstrate a market/external constraint, as opposed to an internal constraint;  (2) having game scenarios in which prices and margins were determined by a bidding process that reflected the relationship between the potential supply and the available demand for new homes in a housing market:  and, (3) having game situations in which finite resources had to be deployed across multiple new home communities with different volume, prices, and margins.

Playing the game remained about creating an intuitive, instinctive feel for production principles that readily transferred into analyzing conditions encountered in the field.

The game was always about The Pipeline, about The Connection, and about systems-thinking.  It was always about how a production system manages process variation and uncertainty, how that production system is scheduled, and how production is managed as a project portfolio.