INFORMS News: President-elect position statement: Greg Parlier

Our multi-disciplinary profession can achieve powerful results with consequential impacts. I believe we are obligated to bring the full power of our unique profession to bear on these challenges of our times.

I am both honored and humbled to be nominated for president-elect of INFORMS and gratefully thank the nomination committee for their expression of confidence. Seventy-seven years ago marks the beginning of our profession during the early years of World War II. The United States had not yet declared war, the attack on Pearl Harbor was more than a year away, France had just fallen, and Britain was standing alone during that “bright and terrible” summer of 1940. The fate of Western Civilization was at stake prompting Prime Minister Churchill to describe the Battle of Britain as our “darkest hour.”

We know how the incredible story concluded five years later, and the many ways our new and unique profession would contribute to victory in World War II. This history should be a source of inspiration and strength for us. INFORMS and its predecessor organizations, ORSA and TIMS, have undertaken many important initiatives since then. Especially valuable has been the History and Traditions (H&T) Committee, which can help us understand and appreciate our own remarkable history. If elected, I will enthusiastically support and extend ongoing projects, and I will encourage and reinforce our H&T Committee in its important efforts.

We are fortunate to have a very capable, experienced and responsive administrative staff, expertly guided by INFORMS Executive Director Melissa Moore. Major financial and business operations indicators are now trending in positive directions; membership and conference attendance are strong and increasing; the INFORMS information infrastructure has been reengineered; new initiatives continue to be thoughtfully generated and vigorously implemented. If elected, I will not mess with success.  
INFORMS has identified four strategic goals oriented on future success. Three of these focus on our professional contributions to decision-makers, organizations and society at large. The fourth is internally focused on the value proposition to our members. These are both appropriate and worthy goals, but in their current form I believe they lack supporting “campaign plans.”

First, our professional development value proposition is crucial to member retention and sustaining long-term success. We must reinforce, refine and expand those efforts that are value-added. Just as we now mine data for patterns and trends, we should “mine” our history for enduring principles, and to better understand our purpose in our own time. Indeed, our vision must be informed by where we have come from, remind us of our unique heritage, and assist us now in advancing and responsibly wielding the analytical horsepower that defines us. If elected, I will encourage ongoing professional development programs and new initiatives to reinforce our value proposition across the full range of member interests.

We can assist decision-makers specifically, and organizations more generally, by developing and implementing assessment frameworks, including the analytical maturity model, to help them realize their goals in cost-effective ways. Many of our government organizations are complex, highly bureaucratic enterprise systems that seem resistant to change. I believe (from my own military experience, I know) we can assist greatly with much needed improvements by fully harnessing the power of management innovation, advanced analytics, and operations research using “engines for innovation” to guide transformational change toward improved performance. If elected, I will encourage and lead such endeavors on behalf of INFORMS.

Finally, at both domestic and global society levels, we are confronted with enduring international security challenges, continuing humanitarian crises, disturbing socio-cultural patterns and trends, and both environmental and economic distress. These perplexing issues will not be solved by technology innovation alone, but must be addressed through social ingenuity. In this domain, our multi-disciplinary profession is uniquely consequential in impact. I believe we are obligated to bring the power of our profession to bear on these challenges of our times – we know what it takes to make things better. Periodic crises may seem threatening and grave, but they cannot be more formidable than others faced in our past, as Churchill confronted 77 years ago. In less than 25 years, we will celebrate the centennial of our profession. Perhaps a retrospective then will characterize our contributions now, in the face of such daunting challenges, as “our finest hour.” If elected, I will “serve as an ambassador for and promoter of the profession, the institute and its members.” With passion and conviction, it would be my honor to do so for you.

Greg Parlier, a retired U.S. Army colonel, is an adjunct professor of operations research and president, GH Parlier Consulting. A West Point graduate, he was later an assistant and associate professor of O.R at the academy. A combat veteran with five deployments and service in more than 20 countries, he was a paratroop commander in the 82nd Airborne Division, air-ground battle staff officer, joint operations planner and Army strategist. With more than 33 years of service, he was the Army’s senior, most experienced O.R. officer.

Elected to INFORMS leadership positions at section, chapter and society levels, Parlier is a past president of the Military Applications Society, co-edits an O.R. text series and is program chair for the annual International Conferences on O.R. and Enterprise Systems.

An Army War College graduate and National Defense Fellow at MIT, Parlier holds advanced degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School, Wesleyan and Georgetown. Honors include the MORS Tisdale Award, Army O.R. Analyst of the Year, MAS Koopman Prize and INFORMS Edelman Laureate.