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General Motors Considers Peter Jackson a "Most Valuable Colleague"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Professor Peter Jackson shows some course-related software to Nisha Bangera, M.Eng. '09

General Motors Global Research and Development organization has honored ORIE Professor Peter Jackson with a "Most Valuable Colleague Award" for his participation in a project called "Business Process for Optimizing Retail Inventory."

According to Jackson, the project focused on optimizing retail inventories of vehicles on dealer lots.  It dealt with the tradeoff between holding too many vehicles, which is bad for the dealers because of such issues as "lot rot" and warranty costs, versus holding too few vehicles, which can mean that consumers are unable to find what they are looking for.

"There are many stakeholders for systems like this," according to Jackson, including the sales organization, dealers, consumers and even suppliers and unions (due to the impact of production adjustments).  Together with a team of analysts from a broad array of GM organizations, Jackson developed an experiential training simulation that models detailed customer flows and allows people from sales and production to play out different inventory strategies to determine their consequences. 

The project was part of a set of activities that has "enabled substantial reduction in GM's retail inventory, leading to significant reductions in inventory carrying costs for both GM and its dealers,"  according to GM R&D's "Innovation Awards 2010" booklet. 

The project's core team from General Motors' Operations Research unit received a 2010 Charles L. McCuen Special Achievement Award for their work.  The award is named for the sucessor to Charles Kettering, founder of General Motors Research laboratories.  McCuen coordinated the corporation's engineering policy during the critical World War II era and oversaw the development of the first completely automatic transmission. 

In developing the software for GM, Jackson used a process he calls "Getting Design Right (GDR)." GDR is also the subject of Jackson's new book, Getting Design Right: A Systems Approach, and the focus of a distance learning course he offers through e-Cornell.

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