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July 26, 2008 / or4green

The Woolsey Papers, Part 3: postscripts

Some odds and ends here…

I had always appreciated but wondered why Interfaces articles had postscripts written by clients vouching for the successful implementation of the work described in the paper. Apparently this was Gene Woolsey’s doing when he became editor in the early 1980s. (see the article Sesame Street for the Decision Sciences: Redux by Rick Hesse, DecisionLine October 2007/Volume 38(5)).

We may see a trend towards more talk about the energy and environmental benefits resulting from the works described. Fuel savings have been mentioned from time to time (e.g. Brown et al., July-August 2007), and as described earlier, a talk corresponding to a USPS/IBM paper with fuel savings results went on to state the environmental benefits as well. The sustainability special issue (mentioned briefly here) does have a few such postscripts (e.g. the Interface (no s) carpet paper), and many of the impacts are described directly in the papers of that issue.

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a quote I especially liked:

… if you enjoy your work of helping other people solve their problems with your methods, you are approaching the optimal operations researcher or management scientist. I contend that an operations researcher or management scientist is like a chemical catalyst when operating optimally; that is, he aids and speeds the reaction desired but does not enter into the reaction himself.

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some related pages:
Woolsey Papers homepage
Woolsey’s Useful Management Series
Michael Trick post on Gene Woolsey

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2 Comments

  1. Ty Colman / Aug 20 2008 3:32 pm

    Defining project success: the optimal solution? Or the implemented solution? What use is the greatest computer model if it never leaves the annals of the hard drive? And this is why OR/Sustainability/Efficiency/Organization consulting takes more than a hot computer. It takes a thorough understanding of the people, politics and mechanisms affecting the problem. As Woolsey noted (almost daily) in our interactions, “…it’s not a technical problem, it’s people.”

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