One of the Monday highlights to me was the Keynote Edelman Reprise, showcasing the winner of the Edelman Award 2009. In this session the emphasis is on showcasing the value OR brings. This is a skill we all need and I still have a lot to learn. It is not the elegance and depth of the methods, but the value and the impact of the solution that attracts people’s attention and earns the appreciation. This is true in marketing our own field, showing how to do good with OR for example. But it is also true when teaching students or courting potential customers.
A statement that resonated with me concerned the observation that the Hewlett Packard OR team had to bridge an organizational divide between marketing and supply chain. In pricing, a field I consider my home turf, we run into this type of situation often. When working with marketing or product management departments on the one hand and teams responsible for production scheduling or inventory management on the other hand, it is not uncommon to find that these folks barely know each other. Part of our job is to make these teams work together. Sometimes it seems that therapeutic value of OR is more essential then the actual OR we perform.
I also very much liked the method of selecting which SKUs to drop from the line up. The method is very elegant but, perhaps more importantly, the argument why the method is better is very well articulated in business terms: it makes common sense to look at the number of orders you can fulfill with your product portfolio instead of using an individual product statistic such as revenue per SKU.
If you picked up the Edelman Award CD I’d recommend taking some time reviewing it. It’s much better than my blog. If you did not pick up the CD yet, then here is something you could do sometime the coming two days:
Make sure you pick up your free copy of the Edelman Award CD at the INFORMS booth!
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