New SEMS President-elect Brian K. Smith shares the best of IISE Annual 2017, and board member Julie Drzymalski talks webinars and goals in the latest issue of IM .

Pricing carbon dioxide into your supply chain

With climate change concerns and CO2 regulations increasing, companies need easy-to-implement economic order quantity models to make logistics decisions.

Mentoring: A lesson from the Fortune 500

In the July/August IM , columnist Dan Carrison espouses the triple positive effect of a mentoring program: boosting the mentee, the mentor and the organization.

People and creativity: The lean basics

Process improvement must advance to where staff members see it as an outlet for their creativity and expression as opposed to changes that are forced upon them.


Presidents' Message | New Leaders & Conferences

Hello SEMS friends,

I hope you are enjoying the Fall season; and soon, it will be time to get ready for the holidays. As we wind down our hectic schedules, it is an appropriate time to do a retrospective on the things that went well and things that could have gone better this year. It is also an appropriate time to give and receive feedback from your colleagues and teams. As managers, receiving feedback is a gift; even though, at times, the feedback may sound as criticism. For receiving feedback, you need to be an effective listener. First and foremost, establish rapport with the person providing feedback and do not rush to judgement (avoid "I know the answer" attitude). Also, demonstrate that you are interested to hear this feedback by using open-ended questions and avoiding constant interruptions. Lastly, paraphrase and summarize what you have heard and avoid misinterpretations. Here is a relevant video on how to receive feedback. 

Our board and volunteers are busy working on numerous activities, including preparation for the 2018 IISE Annual Conference and Expo. The abstractsubmission for the conference was due on November 7, 2017. We are expecting yet another stellar program from the Engineering Management track. The chairs are designing a panel discussion, featured speakers, and also the student paper competition. We are also making progress on collaborating with the American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM) to provide a better member experience for both ASEM and SEMS. Additionally, two webinars were completed in early 2017 and we will share the details in December.  

As always, we welcome suggestions (and volunteers!) to ensure SEMS remains your preferred society for engineering and management systems. Contact any of your Officers to offer input or get involved.  We hope you have a good year-end. 

Sreekanth Ramakrishnan, SEMS President  

Brian Smith, SEMS President-Elect

Charlene Yauch, SEMS Past- President

SEMS Board of Directors | Call for Nominations

We have a call for nominations for the President-elect and Directors for the 2018-2021 period. 

The President-elect serves a three-year term - transitioning from the President-elect to the President, and finally as the Past President. We also have two vacant Director positions, who serve three-year terms, and will lead one of the Board's portfolios (Newsletters and Industrial Management). We want a rich slate of candidates for all positions and are happy to discuss with any of you that might want more information. Contact the Chair of the Nomination Committee: Charlene Yauch (SEMS Past-President) for more information and to express your interest. She can be contacted at

SEMS Says |  How your expert thinks can determine methodology

The advent of inexpensive storage and accessible computing power has helped fuel the popularity of big data to support decision-making. Collecting, storing and mining data are now routine, and analysts at all levels of expertise can build data-driven models. 

However, experience shows the perils of allowing purely data-driven models and artificial intelligence to totally drive the decision-making process. For example, Google's Flu Tracker missed the peak of flu season by 140 percent. Qualitative components of models cannot be ignored, and subject matter expertise continues to be needed to build models that support holistic decision-making. 

The literature and practice support two major methods or approaches to subjective decision-making: utility-based approaches, such as multiple objective decision-making (MODA), and the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Both approaches require subject matter experts (SMEs). In a utility-based approach, SMEs identify a value function for every attribute, or characteristic to be evaluated, of the model. These value functions can be risk averse (concave), risk seeking (convex), risk neutral or S-shaped. The SME then identifies 0-100 values for every point on the function. The alternatives are then scored against the attributes. Read More.

Natalie Scala is an assistant professor in the Department of e-Business and Technology Management in the College of Business and Economics at Towson University.

SEMS Says | Design thinking can bring great results to your improvement projects

Traditional problem-solving methods (lean, Six Sigma and PDCA) focus on improving processes by focusing on eliminating wastes and bottlenecks.  

For example, kaizens are structured problem-solving events that focus on a problem and often involve a cross-functional team that brainstorms to identify solutions to improve the process. During the life cycle of a process, improvement ideas sometimes become redundant and lack a "wow" factor - in other words, the business leaders are underwhelmed by the results. This is where design thinking concepts can help practitioners to revive their change efforts. 

Design thinking is a technique that has been around since the 1960s when industrial and product designers used it to differentiate themselves from engineers. However, it has evolved significantly since then and took its current shape when the global design company IDEO popularized design thinking by focusing on human-centric design for products. In recent years, design thinking has gained a foothold in industry primarily because of its focus on co-creation and participatory design with multidisciplinary teams. Numerous organizations, including Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike and Procter & Gamble, use design thinking to solve their client's complex problems.  

Why is design thinking different from traditional problem-solving methods? A key difference is that the design mindset, at least compared to the lean Six Sigma approach, is not problem-focused. Instead, it is solution-focused and geared toward creating a future state that will satisfy the end user. Additionally, the future state is defined by empathizing with the end user (qualitative aspects) rather than just looking at data and inferring needs (quantitative). A quote from Don Norman, the author of The Design of Everyday Things, summarizes this very eloquently: "Designers don't try to search for a solution until they have determined the real problem, and even then, instead of solving that problem, they stop to consider a wide range of potential solutions.

Lean Six Sigma practitioners can adapt many design thinking practices into their process improvement efforts. Click here for a few thought starters and more.

Sreekanth Ramakrishnan is a senior data scientist and net promoter score implementation lead with IBM Corp. He is a certified lean master, design thinking coach and lean Six Sigma black belt. He is also an adjunct faculty at the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at San Jose State University. He is the current president of SEMS.

IISE Annual Conference & Expo 2017|
SEMS Best Paper Competition sponsored by Missouri Science & Technology University and Old Dominion University

1st Place: Determinants of Goal Achievement for Continuous Improvement Projects in Hospitals  by Fernando González Aleu (Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico), Eileen M. Van Aken (VirginiaTech, United States), Jennifer Cross (Texas Tech University, United States), and Wiljeana Glover (Babson College, United States). 

Continuous improvement projects (CIPs) such as Kaizen events, Six Sigma projects, Lean projects, and quality improvement projects have been used by hospitals to improve their processes and corresponding results. However, evidence in the literature suggests that hospitals experience difficulty achieving successful outcomes with in CIPs. CIP success may be measured by perceptual measures, such as those used in survey investigations, and/or with more objective measures, such as in this study. The purpose of this study is to identify the most significant determinants of success for CIPs in hospitals based on objectively measured goal achievement. In order to address this aim,35 CIPs in hospital settings were studied and data were analyzed using logistic regression. Results indicate that Team Operation is the most significant determinant of the extent to which CIPs achieve their goals. This finding differs from previous research on CIPs that uses perceptual measures of CIP success and can be used to develop a more holistic understanding of the determinants that influence multiple successful outcomes.

Lend a helping hand | Call for volunteers

If you are interested in volunteering for the SEMS and its initiatives, contact Sreekanth Ramakrishnan SEMS president, or Daren Maynard, newsletter editor.


Industrial Management - January/February 2017May/June 2017

Industrial Management is the member publication of the Society for Engineering & Management Systems. The May/June 2017 issue features articles about meaningful work, creating a global virtual workplace based on tools used by NASA, partnership-based benchmarking, 10 factors for managing modular product platforms, and tips for finding the best change and crisis management leaders. In SEMS Says, Charlene Yauch surveys workers about cellular manufacturing, and Daren Maynard urges engineers to take their management and analytics skills to the political arena.

SEMS Newsletter

NOVEMBER 2017 issue of the SEMS Newsletter features IISE upcoming call for nominations, member spotlight and more.


JULY 2017  

MAY 2017

MARCH 2017





More Events