What makes a good Operational Research scientist?

Like many readers of the INFORMS journal ORMS Today, I turn to Doug Samuelson's ORacle articles with interest each issue.  In the current issue (Volume 41, number 3, page 56, June 2014) Doug has a quote that resonated with me.  Given a group of "social or industrial psychologists, or something like that" who had irked the hero of his article, that hero said "no matter what degrees those people have and what positions they hold, they're not scientists and they never will be.  The essential quality of a scientist is playful curiosity, and they don't even recognise that quality when they see it".

Sir Hermann Bondi was linked to the O.R. Society in the U.K. for many years.  He once wrote: "Little children, up to the age of five or six or seven, are constantly asking questions starting 'Why?'  Education aims to stop such questions.  But education has its failures.  The results are called scientists."

Perhaps, when recruiting O.R. scientists, we should ask if they have a playful curiosity, or when they last asked a question that started 'Why?'


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