Volume 12 - Number 1 - March 1999
Message from the President
Greetings from your President for 1999. After being Treasurer for 14 years it feels different being in training for one year (as President elect), one year “in the saddle,” and one year being debriefed (as past President).
My thanks to Yaman Barlas for his year running the Society. And thanks to him also for hosting the conference in Istanbul. I look forward to his sharing his thoughts on what a president should be and do.
Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find a summary of the minutes of the Policy Council’s winter meeting. The winter meeting is always a productive one as it does not compete with a conference for the members’ attention. This year we tried to include those members who could not attend by putting it live on the web. One or two individuals actually did manage to participate. With more experience and better technology this should become an easy way to involve more Policy Council members.
Another innovation of this meeting was holding it in Worcester, halfway between Cambridge, where many of us work, and Albany, home of our new offices. Khalid Saeed and Mike Radzicki were wonderful hosts.
Speaking of Mike, you will discover in the minutes that we approved employing him for the spring term to install our new computer and transfer all the Society materials spread around the web to our new web site.
Also in this newsletter you will see an article on the Society’s priorities. Perhaps my key goal as your President is to review these priorities. But this is not something that I should do alone or only with the Policy Council. Please join in the discussion.
I look forward to seeing all of you at this summer’s conference in Wellington, New Zealand.
System Dynamics Society,
Milne 300 – Rockefeller College
University at Albany, Albany, New York 12222 USA
Phone: (518) 442-3865 Fax: (518) 442-3398 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Priorities for the Society
The System Dynamics Society has been in existence for 13 years. We have achieved most of our initial priorities. Now it is time for the society to review the purposes for which it was organized and perhaps to set new priorities. Participation by the whole society is necessary if we are to generate as many new ideas as possible and for the membership to “own” the new goals that come from this process.
Our Articles of Organization state that:
The System Dynamics Society, Inc. is a professional society promoting system dynamics through conventions, publications, journals and other activities. The objectives of the Society shall be:
1) identify, extend and unify knowledge
contributing to understanding of feedback control systems,
2) promote the design of structures and policies to improve the behavior of such systems,
3) promote the development of the field and the free interchange of information about systems as they are found in all fields of endeavor,
4) promote the dissemination of information on such topics to the general public, and
5) encourage and develop educational programs in the behavior of systems.
To these ends, the Society proposes:
· to conduct meetings,
· to publish journals, books and other materials,
· to cooperate with other organizations interested in the advancement of the practice of system dynamics,
· to stimulate research,
· to promote high professional standards,
· to promote the growth of system dynamics, and
· to improve its practice throughout the world.
Initially, our top priorities were to establish a refereed journal and to place the organization of our conferences on a firm basis. I will assert that these goals have been achieved. We should look at what is new or changing in and around system dynamics and decide what the society’s current role should be. I will start the process by noting the following activities the society might be part of:
· promoting systems thinking broadly,
· promoting the teaching of system dynamics in more colleges and universities,
· developing college curricula,
· identifying and teaching the skills honed and used by the best practitioners,
· expanding the teaching of SD in grades K-12,
· publishing more success stories from industry,
· promoting the exchange of experiences among practitioners in industry, and
· defending system dynamics against the onslaught of incompetent consultants.
The next steps are to add to this list and to identify what the society might or should do in these areas. I propose a dialog using two vehicles: this newsletter and the listserve maintained by Bob Eberlein.
If you are not already a member of the System Dynamics listserve you can join by sending an e-mail message to email@example.com containing the following text in the body (subject line is ignored):
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If you do not have access to the internet, you can mail, fax, or phone your ideas to either Roberta or me and we will add them to the discussion. I will summarize this dialog in a later edition of the President’s Newsletter. You can reach us at:
Roberta Spencer, Executive Director
Milne 300 - Rockefeller College
University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA
Phone 518 442-3865; Fax 518 442-3398
Alexander Pugh, President
49 Bedford Road, Lincoln, MA 01773, USA
Phone and fax 781 259-8259
Winter Policy Council Meeting
10 February 1999, held at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Massachusetts
· Report of the Vice President - Finance. David Andersen highlighted for the Council important points of his financial statements. These points included:
· Overall net income for the Society in 1998 was $57,485. Although the Sales ($48,748) and Conference ($26,731) classes were in the black in 1998, the Core Operations (membership services) (-$28,241) lost money. This means that revenue from the Society's conference and sales are subsidizing its member support.
· The Society had an increase in total assets from $201,518 to $260,731 from 1997 to 1998 (unaudited).
· Executive Director's Report. Roberta Spencer distributed copies of her Winter 1999 Executive Director's Report and summarized its contents for the Council. The report covered the areas of Membership Services and Recruitment, Society website, Sales, Society Sponsorship, Society Finances, Conferences, and Chapters.
· Report of the Executive Editor
of the SD Review.
· There is currently a trend of increasing article size. Section editors have been asked to encourage authors to be as concise as possible and to discourage the inclusion of full listings of model equations in final versions of articles.
· The article backlog situation is now very healthy.
· Carmine Bianchi of the Universities of Bari and Palermo has joined the Review's Editorial Board.
· The Review is now electronically accessible via the internet (www.interscience.wiley.com).
A discussion ensued about the wisdom of not publishing full model listings. The following opinions were expressed:
· All model equations must be attached to a paper presenting model runs. Papers not presenting model runs need not necessarily include equations. If space in the Review is scarce, a model's equations can be placed on the Society's web site, so they are available to other scholars.
· The decision to list a model's equations should be left up to the author. If they choose to not reveal a model's equations, they have to "take their lumps" with the referees.
· As insights from consulting models are less general, and less transferable, than those from research models, making their equations available is not important.
· The Society must be sensitive to proprietary issues surrounding consulting models. Good consulting work must be published, even if this means holding back equations.
· The Society currently has no archival capacity and storing model equations on the web site is not yet feasible.
The consensus of the Council was that it is important to make a model's equations available to other researchers, if a paper based on the model presents runs from the model. Further, the best way to accomplish this is probably by storing the equations on the Society's web site. The Council also felt that the editors of the Review should encourage authors to list the equations of their models.
· Update on the 1999 Conference. Roberta Spencer presented an update on the 1999 conference. (See brochure.)
· Update on Other Conferences.
Bob Eberlein provided the Council with updates on the 2000 through
In the case of the 2000 conference, Eberlein reported that Paal Davidsen is concerned that the ex officio program chair is the President-Elect, and the President-Elect in 2000, Ali Mashayekhi from Iran, may not be able to easily participate in preparing the conference program. David Andersen suggested naming David Ford program co-chair. The sentiment of the Council was that this was a good idea.
In the case of the 2001 conference, Eberlein reported that a preliminary proposal to host the conference in Atlanta has been received from Nathan Forrester.
In the case of the 2002 conference, Eberlein reported that a preliminary proposal to host the conference in Shanghai has been received from Qifan Wang and Saburo Kameyama.
The discussion then turned to general issues surrounding the Society's annual conference.
David Andersen noted that the Society should try to run the 2001 conference by following the new guidelines for the relationship between the Society's principal office and conference organizers, "from the ground up" (i.e., budgeting techniques, etc.).
Bob Eberlein asked the Council for its opinion about holding the 2002 conference in Shanghai. The main concern is, of course, attendance. Attendance tends to be lower for conferences in Asia and this hurts the growth of the field and results in less revenue to the Society. Since the Society's principal office subsidizes its core operations with revenues from the annual conference (and from sales), the revenue question is not trivial.
In response to Eberlein's query, various ideas were put forth. A permanent three-city rotation between Boston or New York, London, and Tokyo was suggested, as was a rotation consisting of a greater number of cities. Permanently holding the conference in Boston was also suggested.
The sentiment of the Council was that one of the most important things to consider when selecting a conference location is the number of enthusiastic system dynamicists (including students) in the area. Energy and volunteer effort from these people are crucial for a successful conference.
With respect to the one (Boston), three (Boston/New York, London, Tokyo), or larger permanent city rotation idea, it was pointed out that this would mean that the system dynamicists in those cities would always be the persons responsible for putting on the conference. Although the Society's principal office is now handling more of the conference work, it is not doing all of it. Thus, the duties of the system dynamicists in the permanent cities would have to be established and made reasonable.
· Update on the Society's Electronic Presence. Mike Radzicki reported that he has ordered a Dell PowerEdge 2300 server that will host the Society's web site. When the machine arrives, he will merge the Society web site from Albany with the Policy Council web site and add a number of new features, including:
· Acrobatized versions of conference
· the System Dynamics Bibliography
· system dynamics models that can be run through a browser via Powersim Metro (donated by Powersim)
· the code for models published in the SD Review
· the Society directory, including e-mails
Radzicki also noted that the Society has already reserved a domain name: www.systemdynamics.org.
· Report of the Vice President - Member & Chapter Activities. Nan Lux reported that she had contacted all of the Society's Chapters asking for updated information, and that she intends to prepare two reports for the Council each year. She will also work with people who wish to form chapters and try to get more members for the Society.
In terms of new chapters, Lux reported that there are presently several groups of system dynamicists around the world who are working to form chapters. One is an international group of students, one group is in Mexico, one in Argentina, and one in Canada. She also noted that the Indian chapter of the Society is quite active (they sponsor lectures, courses, and conferences), but is not yet formally recognized because they do not have ten Society members in good standing. She suggested that she and the Council need to work on getting the chapter formally recognized.
President Pugh noted that there was no quorum at the meeting and thus any motions "passed" by the Council have to be re-voted on by the entire Council via e-mail. Mike Radzicki was instructed to organize the vote in the weeks following the meeting.
· Merit Raise for the Executive Director. It was moved, seconded and passed that the salary of the Society's Executive Director be increased to $31,500 per year.
· The Society's Electronic Presence. It was moved, seconded and passed that the Society increase its 1999 budget to buy the Secretary out of his teaching responsibilities for one term so that he can set up the Society's new web server and merge the Society and Policy Council web sites.
· A New Society Chapter in the
United Kingdom. It was moved, seconded and passed that the proposal
to form a new Society chapter in the United Kingdom be accepted.
· Changes to the Society's Bylaws and Policies. Mike Radzicki pointed out that there are several areas where our practices are not in conformity with the society's bylaws and policies. The council agreed to address these discrepancies.
· Results of the Asynchronous Meeting to Decide Expenditure Priorities for the Growth of the Society. David Andersen reported that, in late 1998 and early 1999, the Administrative Committee conducted an "asynchronous meeting" over the internet in order to arrive at its list of recommendations. The meeting was facilitated by John Rohrbaugh, a social psychologist at the University at Albany.
Twenty-eight people participated--approximately half of those invited.
The asynchronous meeting was conducted in three stages. First, participants were invited to post any recommendations they wished to the meeting’s web site. In the second stage, participants were asked to group the master list of recommendations into categories. Finally, participants were asked to apply a subjective weight to each recommendation.
A discussion followed. Most of the comments were directed toward the asynchronous meeting process, rather than toward any specific recommendation. David Andersen pointed out that the electronic meeting was a demonstration project and that it needs to be formally evaluated.
· Future Areas for the System Dynamics Society. Jack Pugh argued that, in his view, the Society had met its original goals and thus has to set new goals. As a result, he felt that the Administrative Committee's recommendations for spending some of the Society's surplus funds were premature. (See article on page 2 of this newsletter.)
Jay Forrester then made several points:
· K-12 system dynamics students will one day know all of the material that is currently in the traditional two course graduate system dynamics sequence, so there should be a discussion of what system dynamics instruction will look like beyond the first two courses.
· Activities not presently ongoing should be considered.
· Growing the Society and growing the field are different
· Accreditation of System Dynamics Professionals. Mike Radzicki reminded the Council that, at the 21 July 1998 meeting of the Policy Council in Québec, a discussion of Lou Alfeld's proposal urging the establishment of a procedure for professionally accrediting system dynamics practitioners was postponed to a future meeting of the Council.
The sense of the Council was that:
· Accreditation is premature. It should be discussed only after the field of system dynamics has a medical school-like curriculum in place. Currently there is only a two-course curriculum in place.
· The Society consists mostly of academics, for whom accreditation would not hold much interest.
· Agreeing on standards would be difficult.
· It would probably cost $2,500 to take the exam. Who would be willing to pay this fee?
View the complete meeting minutes online