Lego Bricks and MBAs- remebering the good times

Written on September 30, 2008 by uwe.spangler@ie.edu in General

Professor Angel Díaz simulates a production line with Lego in his MBA Supply Chain Management class.

The exercise teaches the essentials of lean production in an easy-to-understand environment. Students take on different roles, some are involved directly in the production line and thus have difficulties in seeing the root of problems, whilst others pose as consultants and see the entire process and in this way are able to provide essential advice on how to improve it.

Angel, also developer of the game, believes “You learn things you won’t forget by actually doing. The idea is to put students into a simple but realistic situation where they have to manufacture toys under an assembly line approach, using old fashioned mass production techniques and practices. As can be expected this is frustrating and produces little. You then change the rules and empower your workers (the students) to apply all the process innovation they can think of in 15 minutes. When the exercise is repeated the improvements are amazing, usually productivity increases 500 to 600% with total quality and a much better working environment. In a single session you have thus introduced the power of lean and JIT operations, worker empowerment and process simplification. I have met some of my students from 15 years back who tell me that they remember little of their MBA, but they do remember the Lego game!”

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