Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council of the System Dynamics Society

28 February 1996

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

In Attendance.


James Hines (Vice President - Meetings), John D. W. Morecroft (President), Alexander L. Pugh, III (Vice President - Finance), Michael J. Radzicki (Secretary), George P. Richardson (President Elect), Henry B. Weil (Vice President - Member Activities)

Policy Council:

Lou Alfeld, Robert Eberlein, Jay W. Forrester (Founding President), Sauwakon Ratanawijitrasin

Executive Director

Julie Pugh


Julia DeStefano, Nan Lux, John Sterman

1. Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order at 10:39 AM by President John Morecroft.

2. Secretary's Report.

Mike Radzicki moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that "the minutes of the August 1, 1995 and August 2, 1995 meetings of the Policy Council be approved." The motion passed.

3. Report of the Vice President - Finance

Jack Pugh distributed a preliminary financial report for the Society and indicated that the Society's financial position is sound. Highlights of the report (on file with the Secretary) include revenues of $27,545 from "Beer Game" board sales ($17,545 above budget!) and a final cash balance of $115,499. The details of this report may change after the accountants complete their 1995 audit of the Society's finances, but any changes will likely be minor.

In a related matter, Pugh reported on the financial position of the Gordon Brown Fund. In 1995 there were grants awarded from the Fund in the amount of $11,000 - $12,000 and interest revenues earned by the Fund in the amount of $17,000 - $18,000. The total assets of the Fund stand at approximately $250,000 at the end of 1995. The Fund must still be audited by the Society's accountants, however.

A discussion then ensued concerning advertising for the Fund. Some Policy Council members were concerned that the number of grant proposals being received and funded was low.

Jay Forrester reported that the Fund is advertised on the World Wide Web and in the quarterly newsletter published by the Creative Learning Exchange. The consensus seemed to be that the Fund is being advertised in the proper places and that the reason that the number of grant proposals being received and funded is low is that K-12 teachers are too busy during the school year to prepare them.

4. System Dynamics Review Editor's Report.

As Graham Winch was unable to attend the meeting, no formal Editor's Report was given. However, after a short discussion the Council concluded that, in the future, it would be very helpful if the Editor would prepare a written report for each Policy Council meeting. This report should include information on the financial position of the Review and a summary of the articles in the Review's publishing "pipeline" (i.e., how many articles have been received, how many have been accepted, how many have been rejected, how many have been sent back for revisions, etc.).

The Council's attention then turned to the topic of getting consultants to submit articles to the Review describing their work. The consensus seemed to be that, more and more, publishing is becoming important to consultants because they wish to be seen as real "experts" in the field. Along these lines, it was suggested that supplying consultants with reprints of their articles that they could use to market themselves would be helpful (it was acknowledged that the Review already does this to a limited degree). It was also suggested that members of the Editorial Board of the Review reach-out to senior members of the various consulting firms that use system dynamics and ask for help in soliciting articles. The concluding consensus was that the Policy Council encourage Graham Winch and David Lane to investigate this matter further.

5. 1996 System Dynamics Conference.

John Sterman reported that abstracts for the Conference are still coming in and that the program looks great! To date, approximately 200 abstracts have been received.

The paper proceedings this year will be limited to four pages and there will be, for the first time, a "virtual proceedings" on the World Wide Web. The virtual proceedings will consist of a Web page that contains conference information, a registration form, a list of the accepted abstracts, and URLs from paper authors who wish to let interested persons view/download complete versions of their papers. The vision is that virtual proceedings will completely replace paper proceedings in the near future.

The virtual proceedings Web page already exists and can be accessed at:


John Sterman invited people to check out the Web page and send him the URLs of the pages containing their conference papers, so that he could link them in to the virtual proceedings.

6. 1997 System Dynamics Conference.

John Sterman reported that Yaman Barlas had recently visited MIT and briefed him on the latest information regarding the 1997 conference in Istanbul. In addition, Yaman left a copy of a formal conference proposal with John, which was distributed to the Council. A copy of this document is on file with the Society Secretary.

The 1997 conference is slated for August 20-23. The current budget is based on 150 participants, 50 student participants, and US$20,000 in sponsorship. There is a projected surplus of US$14,000.

Conference sessions will be held in a restored palace which overlooks the Bosporus and is within walking distance of the hotels that will house conference participants. Two to four page paper proceedings, as well as virtual proceedings, will be created.

A short discussion then ensued on the topic of conference themes. The consensus seemed to be that no theme is best, because it is in the interest of the Society to showcase the best work in system dynamics, regardless of topic.

7. Report of the Nominating Committee.

Mike Radzicki (reporting for Andy Ford) moved and George Richardson seconded a motion to: "accept the following slate of candidates for the 1996 Society elections: President: Yaman Barlas, Vice President - Publications: David Lane, Secretary: Mike Radzicki, Policy Council: Magne Myrtveit (Norway), Showing Young (Taiwan), Isaac Dyner (Columbia), and Doa-Hoon Kim (South Korea)." The motion passed.

8. System Dynamics Review Editor as a Member of the Policy Council.

Mike Radzicki moved and Lou alfeld seconded a motion that "the Society ByLaws be changed so that the Editor of the System Dynamics Review is a member of the Policy Council." The motion passed. According to the Society ByLaws, this motion must now be voted on by the Society membership.

9. Society Sponsorship.

Jay Forrester asked whether current Society Sponsors had been asked to sponsor again in 1996. He noted that he, personally, would sponsor again and that he had contacted High Performance Systems and Frank Davidson about re-sponsoring. Mike Radzicki reported that he had asked Powersim Corp. to become a sponsor and Modelldata to re-sponsor. Julie Pugh said she had contacted Pugh-Roberts, GKA, and Ventana Systems. Nan Lux said that she would arrange for the MIT System Dynamics Group to re-sponsor.

The discussion then turned to the topic of obtaining new Society Sponsors. Jay Forrester suggested approaching the big consulting firms that do system dynamics work (e.g., McKinsey). Jim Hines was asked to contact Jim Thompson at Gemini.

10. Funding of the Effort to Create an Industry Standard for System Dynamics Software and a Common Model Exchange Format.

Mike Radzicki moved and Lou Alfeld seconded a motion that "the Policy Council entertain a proposal by a consortium of system dynamics software firms, for funding to create an industry standard for system dynamcs software and a common model exchange format."

The ensuing discussion centered around the question of who would benefit most from a set of software standards and a common model exchange format. The consensus seemed to be that individual software users and software firms with small installed bases would gain the most, and software firms with large installed bases would gain the least (or even lose). As the Council does not want to fund any activity that could benefit one group of Society members at the expense of others, the motion was defeated.

The discussion then focused on the notion that, if a software standard and model exchange format are good ideas, they will be commercially viable and, as such, are fundable by the software firms themselves. As a result, Jack Pugh moved and George Richardson seconded a motion stating that, for the record "the Policy Council strongly supports the creation of a common model exchange format and a set of standards for system dynamics software. The Policy Council urges the various system dynamics software companies to pool their resources and create the common model exchange format and set of software standards."

11. Future Administration of the Society.

President Morecroft asked George Richardson and David Andersen to join him on a committee, charged with the task of investigating the options available to the Society for having its repeatable tasks (e.g., conference preparation) undertaken by a paid individual. The committee is to report back to the Policy Council at the Policy Council's next meeting.

12. Italian Chapter of the Society.

Bob Eberlein reported that the Italian Chapter of the Society made the required changes to its Constitution and is now formally recognized by the Society.

13. Status of the System Dynamics Bibliography on the Internet.

Bob Eberlein reported that the System Dynamics Bibliography is now available on the Internet. It is downloadable from the following Web site: http://www.std.com/vensim/sdmail.html

14. Status of the Society Logo Competition.

Julia DeStefano and Lou Alfeld placed a large collection of logo designs on a bulletin board and asked the members of the Policy Council to vote for the ones they preferred. A logo was selected. Jay Forrester moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that: "the Society thank Lou Alfeld and Julia DeStefano for their work on the Society logo." The motion passed. The logo will be made available, in various formats, on the sdmail Web site (URL above).

15. Letter from Saburo Kameyama.

President Morecroft instructed Mike Radzicki to respond to a letter from Saburo Kameyama, asking for a clarification of the Society's rules pertaining to chapter membership.

16. Motion to Adjourn.

Lou Alfeld moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion "to adjourn." The motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at 1:19 PM.

Respectfully submitted.

Michael J. Radzicki