Chainlink Toolbox

A supply chain super challenge to meet customer and supplier needs

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An exercise in managing the demands of being in an internal supply chain, and how to cope with meeting customer needs while managing suppliers.

Chainlink replicates some of the pressures of being 'a link' in an internal supply chain. Few people working in organizations do not find themselves, at times, both customer (or user) and supplier. You may be waiting for the IT team to fix your computer so that you can supply management accounts to your Board in advance of a meeting -- you are a link in a chain.

This exercise puts every participant into the role of both user and provider of information. It asks them to focus on more than one task at once: the construction and supply of a product to a 'customer' and the liaison with a 'supplier' who is fulfilling a previously placed order.

The relationships are limited by restricted communication: face-to-face meetings are rare and therefore valuable. The communication generally occurs in writing, representing the 'remote' (usually electronic) communication now relied upon in the majority of global organizations.

The exercise raises some important issues of task management, prioritization and resource allocation.

How does an individual make informed decisions about where and when to apply effort?

  • How do pressurized individuals in internal service departments know which demand is genuinely urgent and therefore which to respond to?
  • How are people encouraged to move from thinking about their own needs to those of others?
  • How do we get things 'right first time' to avoid the need for re-work or correction?

Chainlink also demonstrates very clear differences in individual working style. How do teams respond to differences in the amount of contact, interaction, preparation time, detail and feedback which individuals need? In this way, it is an ideal exercise to use with teams who have completed personal style profiles (eg MBTI) and will be able to see the different preferences in action.

Recognizing individual differences and needs makes this an ideal task to link to personal style profiles such as MBTI as participants choose remote or face-to-face communication.


The game focuses on the following topics:

  • Learning Focus Action Planning
  • Collaboration
  • Customer/Supplier Relations
  • Decision Making
  • Effective Communication
  • Group Management
  • Negotiation & Building Trust
  • Prioritisation
  • Resource Management
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Working with Conflict

Group Size:

Ideal: 8
Possible: 6 - 16


Duration: 30-90 Minutes plus review


Activity Contents:
Facilitator Manual, Customer order sheets, 8 Magnetic boards, Magnetic components


How the Game is Played:

You are one of a number of participants in this exercise in which you find yourself in the position of being both customer and supplier. As a customer, you have a requisition that you need to be delivered to you by the end of the exercise. As a supplier, you have an order which must be in the hands of your customer by the end of the exercise.

Your customer identification and requisition is on the printed sheet which has been supplied to you. From this sheet you can identify your Customer letter (A-H) and the printed design pattern which you need to be delivered to you in magnetic form by your supplier by the end of the exercise. Your customer will identify him/herself to you.

Your aim is to ensure that your supplier can deliver to you a completed magnetic picture which exactly matches your specification, ie. the completed pattern on your design requisition. Equally, you must use the components in your possession to deliver to your customer the exact replica of his/her design requisition.

Chainlink is a carefully researched and designed group learning activity from RSVP Design.


Chainlink Toolbox

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