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

13 February 2002
The Hope Club, Providence, RI

 In Attendance


James Hines (President), Jay W. Forrester  (Founding President), David Andersen (V.P. Finance), Nan Lux (V.P. Members), Robert Eberlein (V.P. Meetings and President Elect), and David Packer (Secretary)


Policy Council:

John Heinbokel, Carol Francis, and David Peterson, and Kevin O'Neill



Allen Boorstein, Jim Lyneis, Jack Pugh (Webmaster), Mike Radzicki, Roberta Spencer (Executive Director), and Ginny Wiley


Call to Order

President Jim Hines called the meeting to order at 10:10 am, welcoming incoming Policy Council Members, leading a round of introductions, and reviewing the agenda.


Agenda Items

        Report of the Vice President-Finance.  David Andersen reviewed the unaudited financial reports, which show a $73,000 surplus for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2001 and a balance of over $312,000 at the end of the year.  While the results overstate somewhat how well the Society has done because of the cash accounting basis; there is no question that it has been a successful year.  He noted that membership provides only 10% of revenues, with conferences, product sales, and sponsorships providing the rest.


Discussion centered on questions about the use of our logo on sponsors' letterhead and the criteria for product selection. Jay Forrester suggested looking at MIT policies (which prohibit letterhead use because such use could imply endorsement of a sponsor's products or services), and Bob Eberlein stressed the need for oversight and criteria for accepting products and sponsors. 

A motion that John Heinbokel  head up an effort to craft a motion covering these areas (criteria for products, sponsors, and logo use) for the July Policy Council meeting with a draft to be provided in early May was made by Bob Eberlein, seconded by David Andersen, and passed unanimously.


       Report of the Vice President-Meetings.  Bob Eberlein reviewed the status of conferences:

       2001-- Atlanta was a very successful conference with attendance of over 350 and a profit of about $33,000.

       2002-- Palermo planning is going well.  The proposal flow exceeds that of 2001.  Seating capacity in the ballroom is limited to 400 people, so registrations may need to be capped at about 420.  Carmine Bianchi is doing well with sponsorships to provide additional support. The dates are 28 July-1 August 2002.

       2003--New York City. Mike Radzicki reported that hotel selection will occur soon (Roosevelt or Waldorf Astoria), that costs will be $155 to $165/night, and that 600 room nights are needed to avoid payment for meeting space.  AudioVisual expense is a major issue, yet to be resolved.  Some assistance may come from Fordham University, which also is offering parking for participants.  An event at the United Nations is also a possibility and Columbia University may do a co-host event.  An informal straw poll favored the Waldorf (better known) over the Roosevelt (slightly less expensive), although both are viable venues.  Kudos were provided to the team planning this (Mike Radzicki, Roberta Spencer, Allan Borstein) with a round of applause.

       2005-Bob Eberlein noted that locations being actively considered are Anchorage, Alaska; Las Vegas, NV, and Cancun, Mexico.  Full proposals will provide the basis for selection by the Policy Council in its July meeting.  The larger central office role makes the proposal process much easier than in the past.

David Andersen raised the issue of the cost barrier that affects a number of possible participants, such as K-12 educators and people from less affluent parts of the world.  There was strong consensus that intentional activity should address this issue.  Possibilities are scholarships, identification of less expensive hotels, central office help in promoting sharing of rooms, and travel grants from sponsors.

Conference pricing was also discussed, based on the inputs received from Yaman Barlas.  It was noted that conference fees have been rising over the last decade, from $250 to $400, as conferences have grown and the scale increase.


A motion (David Andersen moved/Bob Eberlein seconded) that comparative conference costs be a standard display in conference proposals, including airfare from several typical locations passed unanimously.  A related action was a motion (Kevin O'Neill moved/John Heinbokol seconded) that a committee chaired by Kevin O'Neill and including Yaman Barlas, Jim Lyneis, a PhD student, and a K-12 representative deal with the issue of cost equity.  This is to be an item for the July conference, with a preliminary report by May 10, 2002.  Additionally, ideas generated will be forwarded to Roberta Spencer and Mike Radzicki for implementation in the New York Conference.  The motion was approved unanimously.


A final conference issue, raised by Bob Eberlein dealt with the need to standardize proposals for conference papers, resulting in the costly and inefficient need to redesign home office processes for review and dissemination each year.  In addition there is no formal linkage to the System Dynamics Review (SDR).  It was moved that a committee to recommend standardized submittals and linkages to SDR be formed, with a preliminary report by June 2, 2002 and action items for approval at the July conference.  This committee will be formed by Bob Eberlein and include Pal Davidson, Roberta Spencer, Jim Lyneis, Brian Dangerfield, and George Richardson.  The motion was passed unanimously.


       Report of the Editor of the System Dynamics Review: The written report from Brian Dangerfield was reviewed and discussed.  It is clear that backlog needs to increase to reduce stress in the system.  Jay Forrester suggested the need for putting pressure on people to deliver specific papers, noting that with all of the good work in the corporate sector, there is little incentive for publication.  David Anderson opined that support from the home office, possibly by a Ph.D. student, to process ideas, follow-up with authors, etc. would help.  It was pointed out that this is a role for which the Associate Editors should be better suited.  There is also a need to go after papers published in other places.  The Editor may also need more support.  It was noted that Brian's report stresses the need for more active Associate Editor roles and that he is moving in the right direction.



       Report of the Publisher of the System Dynamics Review: Discussion here centered on issues of membership related processes, earlier discussed at the Administrative Committee meeting.


Wiley currently handles our membership list, providing the Society with data for publication of our directory.  Wiley is not doing a good job at this activity, the home office is involved in checking and correcting errors, etc.  There is a view that we should do the whole membership job, giving Wiley the information for circulation of the SDR.  Wiley has stated that there would be no savings for them in this, and that it would not affect the membership fee division (Wiley takes $80 of the $90 each member pays annually).  Additionally, we do not know whether Wiley is renting our list and how that may influence their view.  On the other hand, Wiley is doing an excellent job of publishing our journal and is very valued for as a high quality publisher.


A motion (Bob Eberlein moved/David Andersen seconded) that a committee on membership issues be established, headed by Jack Pugh and consisting of George Richardson, Ginny Wiley, David Andersen, and supported by Jennifer Rowe (who has been working these issues in the home office). Jay Forrester is also available for consultation.  This committee will explore the issues, estimate the cost of the Society doing all membership processes, and negotiate with Wiley a better division of responsibilities and associated financial sharing. In addition, the use of the Web for membership activities and questions regarding the form of our directory will be included (already being worked by Jack Pugh and Jennifer Rowe) Recommendations should come to the July Policy Council meeting. The motion passed unanimously.


       Report on the Society Newsletter (formerly The President's Newsletter): Jim Hines reported that this publication comes out two times each year and the next issue will be May 2002.  A new touch will be the inclusion of "reporter articles" on things like interesting projects and software developments.


       Member Services: Ginny Wiley raised the question of whether the Society should have a Vice-President Member Services, to cover all areas of membership needs and concerns.  David Packer will review the state of the by-laws to be sure that the latest changes are incorporated and to see if addition of this position requires a membership vote.  He will prepare an appropriate motion for the July Policy Council meeting.


       Electronic Resources Survey Proposal:  David Andersen moved  and Nan Lux seconded a motion that we sponsor a survey of Society members' us of electronic resources to be performed by Deborah Andersen at no cost to the Society (she does this for many organizations).  Results would be reported in the SDR or Society Newsletter along with implications for the future.  The motion was passed unanimously, with the caveat that conference organizer's agreement is required for activities at the conference.


       Report of the Webmaster: Jack Pugh received acclimation for the continued improvements to the Society Webster.  He is looking for material for an expanded section on the content of System Dynamics and Systems Thinking, is adding a short bibliography, and a Frequently Asked Questions section for novices was suggested.  A request for better navigation structure was made and for some redesign of the first page. 


       Model Repository on the Web: A clear consensus of the Policy Council was that there should be a model repository on the web.  On the question of the offer of another domain name for this purpose, the view was that the repository should be within the Society website.  A motion (David Peterson moved/Bob Eberlein seconded) that a repository be established on the Society website under the responsibility of Jack Pugh passed unanimously.


Extensive discussion of the criteria for models in this repository ensued.  Questions included: should the repository be open to all models, should it be limited to models vetted by a peer review process, should models be accompanied by one or more commentaries as to their quality (critiques), should a model be required to have at least one critique by a qualified professional, should the "classics" be included, and others.  Jay Forrester noted that there is a need for the exposition of bad practice as well as good.  David Packer noted that the Policy Council has already endorsed models accompanying SDR articles and that this should be strongly encouraged.  Jay Forrester inquired as to the status of the K-12 process to store models, an initiative of the Creative Learning Exchange.  Overall, there was very strong endorsement and enthusiasm for creating this capability.


          Modeling Languages Interchange: Jim Hines noted that there is a need to get providers of modeling software to support interchange capabilities.  The lack of this is becoming a problem for the Society in that models are submitted in many different formats.  Jim Hines moved/David Peterson seconded a motion that the Policy Council direct the President to form a committee to talk with vendors regarding participation in creating an interchange capability and develop a funding proposal.


          Report of the Nominating Committee:  Jim Hines reviewed the nominating process incorporating the changes approved at the last Policy Council meeting.  He then moved/Bob Eberlein seconded a motion to approve the Nominating Committee membership as proposed (Ali Mashayekhi, Jac Vennix, Frank Maier, Jim Hines, Carmine Bianchi, and David Ford) and a motion to approve the slate proposed by that committee (see Nominating Committee report).   The slate will be published in the Society Newsletter in May 2002 and if no additional nominations are received this slate will become effective in 2003.   Both motions passed unanimously.


          Report of the Vice President, Chapters: Nan Lux assessed the state of chapters as good.  Both Japan and China are doing well, India has fallen below the ten member requirement but is working to rebuild, Australia-New Zealand is in place, and the UK and Italy are extremely active.  Korea now has over 100 members. 


In terms of new chapters, motions to approve a Student Chapter (with members worldwide) and to approve a Latin America Chapter, moved by Nan Lux /David Peterson seconding, were both approved unanimously.  A Hellenic Chapter (Greece) is in the final formative stages as their constitution is in the process of gaining state approval at the Athens Courthouse. A question regarding what the Society could do for chapters received the response that in some areas even the $45 membership fee is a barrier.


A discussion of the nature and role of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and their relationship to the Society and to Chapters reached some agreement that SIGs are a subset of the Society, not legal entities like Chapters, should have low threshold for membership, and should be encouraged.  Current SIGs include Higher Education, Canada, a proposal for Public Policy by Anne Dowling.  There was a motion by Bob Eberlein/David Peterson seconding that a committee headed by Carol Frances and including Bob Eberlein, Anne Dowling, Bob Walker, and Michael Kennedy develop a proposal for what a SIG should be and how it should operate, for presentation at the July Policy Council meeting.  The motion was passed unanimously.


               Approval of Minutes of the Policy Council 23 July 2001.   A motion to approve (David Peterson/Bob Eberlein seconding) as corrected (John Heinbokel was erroneously reported as attending) passed unanimously.


               Report of the Curriculum Committee.  Jim Hines encouraged reading this on the web and commented on the nature of the committee's last meeting in Atlanta.


               Report on Development of a Skills Inventory and Assessment Method: Gordon Kubanek, as requested by the Policy Council at the previous meeting, provided a draft report on this topic, on the web.  Jim Hines encouraged members and other interested people to read this and to carry on discussion of its content via email.  Specific comments should be sent to Gordon Kubanek ([email protected]).  Jack Pugh will explore establishing web capability for carrying the report and supporting discussion.  This report will also be distributed to all Policy Council members as a PDF file for easier reviewing, and it will be noted in the next Society Newsletter.  This will be a topic at the July Policy Council meeting.


               Executive Director's Report: Roberta Spencer.  Roberta commented on key areas of her responsibility, all covered extensively in her written report.  Some high points are the success of conferences, increases in Web hits (going on 3000), a new web-based reviewer submittal process for conference papers, membership gains (835 now from 62 countries), increasing sponsorship from loyal supporters, and gains in the bibliography (6500 entries).   A suggestion was made that membership retention be monitored as an important metric.  Roberta received a round of applause in appreciation of her ongoing high quality work and overall satisfaction with home office performance.


A question as to the key risks in Society structure evoked the response that transition planning for ultimate home office change of location is needed, though there is no short-term issue in this area.  The Society's significant cash buffer (which in no way jeopardizes the not-for-profit status) reduces the stress level for the home office and morale continues quite high.  Jay Forrester commented that the strategy of building quality and increasing sponsors is the right way and that volunteer effort freed up by office functions might be harnessed in finding additional sponsors. 


A motion by David Peterson/Kevin O'Neill seconding "to consult with the professional staff and be helpful with options for sustainability" passed unanimously.



Bob Eberlein moved and Jack Pugh seconded a well-received motion to adjourn, which passed unanimously at 3:45pm.


Respectfully Submitted,

David W. Packer


[email protected]


Conference Registration Fee Pricing (Yaman Barlas)

I find the conference pricing. issue important as I said in the last meeting in Atlanta and I did some quick  research recently. There are several aspectshere:

  1. The BASIC FEE. (Including reception, banquet and breaks only). I learned in the last meeting that the PC decided to recommend to the conference administration to raise the basic fee to about $475.  (Roberta recently told me that this was only for this conference in Italy, but that was not my impression).  The rationale was, I was told, that the Society would perhaps lose money at the Atlanta conference. (Roberta later told me that Atlanta conference did fine). I must state that I am STRONGLY opposed to such a fee increase.
  2. The meaning of the REGISTRATION fee. I wrote already twice about this. The registration fee must be clear in meaning. There must not be any charges like "day pass". The fee can be about $325, including only reception+banquet+ breaks. Or, it can be ($325+lunches), ONLY IF each lunch adds about $10-$20. We can not force people to buy $50 lunches! (My personal preference is that lunch tickets and registrations are separately bought. but lunches must be bought ahead of time to give you freedom to plan).
  3. Other hidden charges. We can not force people to stay at a single hotel at $150-$200 per night. This is not reasonable. There are two solutions:
  4. LAST  OPTION. If, no matter how much you cut down the expenses, you still need an increase in the registration fee, then I propose a formula used by some conferences. You have an academic rate (at about $325) and a "business" rate (at about $450). Probably, business participants won't find this figure too high, so it may work. This may be one way of increasing the fee, w/o losing participation. I hope all this will be of some help. Feel free to share all or parts of it with all interested.

 best to all,

 Yaman Barlas


Webmaster's Report

We now have two graduate students at Albany to keep the web current. This is especially important in managing the conference.

While the web is generally up to date and about where I want it, there are several holes that need to be filled:

Please give me feedback on anything more or better you would like to see on the web. And particularly note the requirements of casual surfers that visit our web. We should be especially careful to serve them.

Jack Pugh

Last edited 4/16/02 by JP