SEMS Says ... Take precautions as we show value of IISE

By the Society for Engineering and Management Systems Board

May/June 2020

Greetings to all SEMS members:

Please beware, take care and take precautions during these uncertain times. Make sure you and your family are safe, and please do not put others in danger. If you are temporarily home from work, enjoy your family and read a good book. I am currently rereading A Guide to Six Sigma and Process Improvement by Howard S. Gitlow, Richard J. Melnyck and David Levine, with many other great and like titles in queue.

Hang in there. Actually, this is a great opportunity for IISE types to step up and really show the world what amazing values we can add to organizations, the government and society. Who knows how to lean, optimize, redesign and lead improvements more than we do as a group?

Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of the Society for Engineering and Management Systems (SEMS) again wants to make sure we understand your needs, goals and interests to better serve our members and IISE. As we verify our mission and vision statements, strategic plan, core values and principles, we will communicate these efforts via the SEMS group in IISE Connect. We welcome and encourage all comments, ideas, approvals, questions and criticisms.

Industrial Management authors sought to share stories of success

Anyone with stories to share on industrial and systems engineering management tips, successes and ideas are invited to submit their research findings in an article for Industrial Management.

Articles generally run 1,000 to 3,500 words in length and are written in a narrative, magazine style that can appeal both to ISEs and non-engineers. Past issues can be viewed online at and author guidelines are available at

Those seeking to submit articles can send them to Managing Editor Keith Albertson for review at

We hope to report significant progress to share with our members at the rescheduled IISE Annual Conference & Expo Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana.

We on your SEMS board have a lot of work to do. We hope to fully engage with a large number of SEMS members to succeed in this crucial endeavor.

If you have any initial comments, you can reach me at the Connect SEMS group ( or at

– Russell Wooten is president of SEMS and chairman of the board for Whole Earth Consulting and Engineering.

IISE Annual Conference rescheduled for Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in New Orleans

With the health and welfare of our members and conference attendees as our top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, we rescheduled the Annual Conference & Expo to Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2020, in New Orleans at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Please view the revised schedule and new registration dates at The early-bird discount deadline is now set for Sept. 13.

The team of staff and volunteers who develop the conference are hard at work planning for the rescheduled event. Stay tuned to the Annual Conference site for current program information and updates.

We encourage you to prepare for the conference and to attend this spectacular event. This will be an opportunity to celebrate the premier industrial and systems engineering event in a special place. IISE and New Orleans need your support. Let’s make this conference one of the biggest ever!

We understand that no one can say with absolute certainty what the future holds in terms of COVID-19. If it becomes necessary for us to change the schedule or format again, we will be liberal and fair in determining refunds or credits. We will do everything we reasonably can if this adverse environment continues. Your health and our relationship with you are what is most important to us.

Please rest assured that IISE and its leaders are staying informed of this rapidly changing situation. We are here to support you during these trying times and hope that you will remain an active participant in our organization. Our mission statement is that we serve those who solve the critical and complex problems of the world. This is certainly one of those problems and together, we can get through this while helping others around the globe.

Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.

— Don Greene is CEO and a Fellow of IISE.

Webinars, web pages help you seek, share information in crisis

IISE is offering various resources to help your organization get through these challenging times with advice from experienced leaders.

Among the offerings are ongoing “Performance Excellence” webinars from Chapter 1, all available at “Navigating Your Business Through the COVID Crisis” features IISE President David Poirier and The Ohio State Executive in Residence D. Scott Sink discussing the history of “Black Swan” events like coronavirus and how organizations can survive and even thrive amid such disasters. “Business Continuity Strategies and Tactics in Periods of Major Disruption” includes Poirier and Jim Tompkins, past president of IISE, offering practical methods to manage volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Other recent topics include: “Principles and Tools to Ensure Optimal Process Performance (Even in Times of Trouble)” discusses fasttracking processes and reducing variation/lead-time; “Rapid (AGILE) Deployment and Execution of Integrated Systems Engineering Principles and Methods in Times of Major Disruption” with Steve Savoie, senior manager of industrial engineering process and integration for GM; and “The Role of Data and Information (Engineered Management Systems) in Periods of Major Disruption,” with Ben Amaba of IBM Watson & Cloud Division and Jared Frederici, a senior consultant with The Poirier Group.

To see a schedule of upcoming webinars, visit

In addition, IISE members can find support and solutions from various sources:

  • The IISE Connect Crisis Resource Community at is a dedicated site for ISEs to share potential solutions and responses to immediate challenges. Members are encouraged to view new posts and library entries, add to the exchange, pen a blog or message members directly.
  • For a full list of resources, IISE statements and more, visit the IISE Coronavirus Resource & Response at
  • The Society for Health Systems is holding regular COVID-19 Think Tank gatherings to discuss how process improvement professionals are taking on these challenges; follow SHS on social media for details and visit the SHS Connect page and Crisis Resource Community.

Problem Solved features SEMS' Scala on cybersecurity, decision analysis

IISE recently wrapped up Season 1 of Problem Solved: The IISE Podcast ( with two new episodes.

The season finale ( features SEMS member Natalie Scala, an associate professor at Towson University and author. She has conducted research in decision analysis in areas that include election offices in Maryland, the energy industry and the U.S. military. She discusses the principles that apply to teach and the human factors involved, along with her new book on military challenges and defense operations research.

Another recent episode, “Tapping the Potential of Autistic Workers with Conner Reinhardt and Jhillika Kumar” (, featured two Georgia Tech graduates discussing their website and app aimed at helping autistic individuals find the right jobs.

Lend a helping hand: A call for volunteers to serve SEMS

If you are interested in getting involved with SEMS, there are always numerous opportunities for volunteers. SEMS needs people to help with new initiatives and ongoing activities like conference planning, newsletters and Industrial Management magazine. If you have ideas and suggestions related to how to improve the value that industry members receive, please contact Russell Wooten, SEMS president, at or Julie Drzymalski, newsletter editor, at