Resolve, follow through

L. Robin Keller

L Robin Keller

INFORMS President

Now is the time for us all to follow through on our New Year’s resolutions. Some of us are pretty good at coming up with personal objectives and even at deciding upon ways to meet those objectives, but not as great at following through on our plans, especially ones that require the establishment of new habits. So, maybe we should write this month as FEBruary to remind us to “Follow through EveryBody.”

Just as home organizers advise us to clear out the clutter before adding new items, be sure to also consider what commitments it is time to move on from. My Grandma Mary’s rule of only committing three years for each volunteer job is a good one. One good practice that we use at INFORMS is to set specific terms for appointments. Then, when a term ends, there is a natural trigger point to nudge us to consider the question of continuing or finding a successor.

As a decision analyst, I always keep in mind my personal and professional objectives. It is also time to think about my objectives for INFORMS and the members of our profession. Ralph Keeney calls this approach “value-focused thinking” [1]. First we think about what we value, our objectives. Then, having thought of the objectives, we can creatively design and decide upon actions that help us meet our objectives.

I refined my perspective on our shared objectives for INFORMS when I chaired a committee to evaluate merger options for ORSA and TIMS leading up to the 1995 INFORMS merger. We developed five major professional society objectives by gathering input from our stakeholders [2]. These objectives are as relevant today as they were then. We all work together in INFORMS to carry out our traditional core roles as well as to creatively find new ways to meet our objectives.

The first major objective, to enhance the quality of products and services, along with its sub-objectives, encompasses a large bulk of INFORMS’ day-to-day activities.

INFORMS provides many high-quality conferences, one of which is coming up on April 12-14. The Business Analytics & Operations Research conference is in Huntington Beach, Calif. – “Surf City USA” – right across the Pacific Coast Highway from the beach. When I was growing up in Orange County, our family would travel down Beach Blvd. to go to Huntington Beach, where the beaches feature miles of smooth walking along the shore and good waves. More recently, I recall going with my UC Irvine research assistants to this beach near the Huntington Beach pier, to get beachgoers to fill out beach experience surveys. Join us there and at our other 2015 INFORMS conferences to build more memories [3].

We continue to provide high-quality publications, recently adding Service Science and Strategy Science. Tutorials in Operations Research before 2011 are now free online [4]. Due to the growing trend of funding agencies requiring authors to publish their work so readers get free access, we adopted an open access policy [5], to state that we plan to continue our subscription model, which provides revenue to meet our overall mission. Authors may: 1) pay a one-time fee to make their article free to read [6] and 2) post the author-accepted manuscript on personal websites after acceptance and in non-commercial institutional repositories 12 months after publication. The final typeset and copyedited version can no longer be posted.

INFORMS provides appropriate career services [7] through our career center and has created the new Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) program and professional education courses. Our online collaboration space, INFORMS Connect, is one new way we provide support for subdivisions and committees and provide other member services ( Also, the Analytics Maturity Model [8] scorecard now helps organizations assess their analytics capabilities.

Brand new is our Ad hoc Committee on Pro Bono Analytics, chaired by David Hunt, vice president/Chapters and Fora, with committee members Michael Johnson, Rina Schneur and Terry Cryan. The concept is to create a Pro Bono Analytics platform for INFORMS members to volunteer their OR/MS and advanced analytics skills in underserved and developing communities. The plan is to develop partnerships with non-profits to generate projects. If you are interested in helping with this initiative, contact David Hunt ( or any of the committee members.

Two other major objectives are to maintain and/or improve effectiveness of operations and improve the cost efficiency of operations. To help the INFORMS Board of Directors monitor and improve its operations, we have established a new “Committee on the Board” to oversee the organizational health of the INFORMS Board, chaired by President-elect Edward Kaplan, which has the tasks of evaluating the Board’s operations, Board member education and tracking promising leadership candidates.

I will follow through on addressing other major objectives in future columns, including managing the scope and diversity of the field and establishing a strong and coherent external image of the field.


  1. R. L. Keeney, “Value-Focused Thinking, A Path to Creative Decisionmaking,” 1992, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  2. L. R. Keller & C. W. Kirkwood, “The Founding of INFORMS: A Decision Analysis Perspective,” Operations Research, Vol.  47, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1999, pp. 16-28.
  5. See Section 13.9, Open Access,
  7. and