What OR Professionals can do

I looked again at the “Science of better” site for INFORMS.  I really don’t like the style, but feel that it is possibly the basis for a much better site.  It’s written in the style of a software company who is trying to get you to buy their software.  It’s not a style that I want for our professional society.  Put another way, The Science of Better site needs to be improved.

Here is a quote from the site.
O.R. is unique. It’s best of breed, employing highly developed methods practiced by specially trained professionals. It’s powerful, using advanced tools and technologies to provide analytical power that no ordinary software or spreadsheet can deliver out of the box. And it’s tailored to you, because an O.R. professional offers you the ability to define your specific challenge in ways that make the most of your data and uncover your most beneficial options.

Here is an alternative that I just wrote.  Admittedly, it is much longer, which makes it difficult to compare the two.   But I hope that it opens a discussion about what is the right tone.  (I am not at all wed to the specifics of the alternative, which undoubtedly could be improved.)

The goal of Operations Research professionals in business is to provide improved decision making in an uncertain and complex environment.   OR professionals draw from a large body of well-developed analytic tools including statistics, simulation, spreadsheet analysis, behavioral decision theory, and optimization.  The OR Professional can benefit your company in a variety of  ways.

  • They can help provide your company a common language (and understanding) for discussing uncertainty and complexity;
  • They can provide analyses of current planning options while helping management to develop new options;
  • They can develop techniques (often simple and inexpensive) for assessing important metrics such as costs, risks, customer satisfaction, and employee morale.
  • They can assess the value of obtaining new information for strategic decisions.  This permits management to seek out new information and data analyses that will have the largest positive impact on their decision making.
  • They have analytic tools for addressing business issues that have a very high level of complexity, uncertainty, and risk.

Let me know if you prefer this type of style, or whether you prefer the style that is currently on the Science of Better site.  And if you have an alternative option, please let me know that.


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3 Responses to “What OR Professionals can do”

  1. nanotürkiye Says:

    Of course yuour definition is better. First of all no science is unique. Our era is multidisciplinary era, so you can not solve everything with OR.

    Also Science of Better website definition tells you nothing specifically. But your definitioni describes some functionalities.

    Also, I have a question. Some friends of mine think that OR is not a profession. They think that if somebody needs something what OR professional will do, they will do it without it. How would you answer this question?

    • jimorlin Says:

      Your friend is being provocative and unfair. Here is a definition of “profession” from Wikipedia that is pretty good. “The term profession is applied to those persons who have specialized and technical skill or knowledge which they apply, for a fee, to certain tasks that ordinary and unqualified people cannot ordinarily undertake.” While there are other professions that have overlapping skills with OR Professionals, it is also clear that OR Professionals have useful workforce skills that are lacking in the ordinary public, including modeling skills, and knowledge of probability, statistics, and optimization.

  2. Bala Says:

    Jim – Totally agree with you on this one. The INFORMS website’s description is loaded with superlative adjectives and very short on specifics.

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