Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council

February 9th, 2004 – Cambridge MA, USA.


10:00 President Robert Eberlein called the Policy Council Meeting to order. In attendance: Bob Eberlein, President; David Andersen, VP Finance; Ginny Wiley, VP Members/Chapters; Jay Forrester, Founding President; Allen Boorstein, PC Member; Pål Davidsen, Past President; Jim Lyneis, VP Meetings. Visitors include Olev Pavlov, Representative from the proposed Economic Dynamics Chapter, Lees Stuntz, Creative Learning Exchange; Khalid Saeed and Mike Radzicki from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Deborah Andersen, University at Albany; and Roberta Spencer, Executive Director. Secretary David Packer is not attending due to illness; Roberta Spencer will record the minutes.


Bob Eberlein welcomes President Elect Graham Winch, VP at Large Bob Cavana, and PC Members: Allen Boorstein, David Exelby, Tim Haslett, Gianliborio Marrone. Also thanks outgoing President Pål Davidsen (now Past President), Past President Jim Hines, VP at Large Michiya Morita, and outgoing PC Members: Carol Frances, Mohammad Mojtahedzadeh, David Peterson, and Habib Sedehi.


Bob Eberlein stated the agenda is a little different, it’s set up so all information can be reported and straightforward things voted on, then deal with pressing issues, then important issues, and other discussion and development items.


Reports and Straightforward Business:


Motion to approve the 2002 Summer Policy Council minutes, made by David Andersen, seconded by Jim Lyneis. Unanimously passed.


Motion to approve the 2002 Summer Business Meeting minutes, made by David Andersen, seconded by Ginny Wiley. Unanimously passed.


Recap of e-voting decisions in between Policy Council Meetings:

Boston venue, the Seaport Hotel was approved for the 2005 conference.

Health Policy Special Interest Group was approved.

Security Special Interest Group approved.


Pål Davidsen – Nominating Committee:

Motion by Pål Davidsen: To approve Deborah Andersen as the acting VP Publications. 

Discussion: She is extremely qualified and will do a phenomenal job. At the NYC Conference, John Morecroft announced he would like to resign as VP Publications since he is Chair of the awards committee, and doing both is too much.

Seconded by Jim Lyneis. Unanimously approved.

Bob Eberlein stated he is delighted that Deborah Andersen will be taking this on.


Discussion by Pål Davidsen about the slate of officers and policy council members to take office in 2005- new PC officers and members: Pål Davidsen reported that the Nominating Committee first asked whether current officers wanted to go for another term. The Nominating Committee has some concerns that new people become active on the Policy Council. Pål Davidsen suggests that new pc members perhaps could be paired with the VP’s and these new members could be assistants. PC members can be passive, so working with the VP’s would help them to become more active in the area they are interested. We need to find a mechanism to make this happen. There is agreement that this is a fine idea.


Bob Eberlein stated that as President he would assign members to VP’s. This will be formalized later.


Motion by Pål Davidsen: To approve the nominated slate of Henk Akkermans, Brad Morrison, Jim Thompson and Scott Johnson as PC Members; Ginny Wiley will continue as VP Members/Chapters, Dave Packer will continue as Secretary, David Andersen will continue as VP Finance, and Michael Radzicki to be President Elect in 2005, to be President after Graham Winch.


Discussion: Pål Davidsen stated that the Geographic location is heavy to New England. Recruiting members into position will help. Bob Eberlein stated a problem is that far reaching members have not been very active.

Seconded by Deborah Andersen. Unanimously approved.


Bob Eberlein - Administrative Committee meeting: Summarized financial items, and operations of home office; Wiley relationship and conference site selection policy. Small change in the budget amount; it will now including COLA salary adjustment for 2004 - amended from original budget.


David Andersen thanked the Administrative Committee for its direction and the committee’s work.


Roberta Spencer - Executive Director’s Report: A full annual report will be given at the Oxford conference. Roberta summarized that the 2004 conference was the largest to date in terms of attendance and income with a net profit of approximately $12,000. Planning on the Oxford conference is proceedings. Membership is up about 8% at 953 members in 65 countries. 21% of our memberships are students. Sales of the beer game are down, which seems to be a trend. All other sales categories are up. Society sponsorship for 2003 was $21,000 and so far for 2004 we have $37,000 in pledges, with 18 new sponsors. The net loss for 2003 was -$1995.00, compared to the 2003 budget of +/- loss of $38,000.


Discussion: Ginny Wiley questioned the number of institutional subscription and how they are figured if Wiley bundles journals. Ginny Wiley comments on site licenses - that Pegasus charges for access for each year, not all years for one year’s cost. Jay Forrester questioned the need for a full audit rather than a review by a CPA. The need for this will happen if our income exceeds $250,000 as a non-profit. Roberta stated that the cost will double for end of year CPA services and that since the Oxford conference fees include, room, board and conference fees, we will be accounting for as much as possible as a liability (not to be recorded as income).


David Andersen - VP Finance Report:


The alert is downgraded from red to orange because for 2003 the economy improved, sponsorship is up, there was additional control over conference expenses in NYC as opposed to Palermo, and prudent restructuring of home office personnel. The Profit and Loss 6 Year Comparison shows 2003 with a net loss of $2000. It shows high variability, and volatility. If we weren’t on a cash basis, we may have posted a gain. The Profit and Loss Present Year shows income, conference income, investments, and sponsorship dues are up. Conference expenses are down, these are the things that turned us around. Budget Comparison shows that we are still having a hard time budgeting the conference, did better, but projecting what will happen at conference is difficult. Also under expenses, Professional Services are up, that is because when we didn’t replace Vedat Diker, and $9000 used for that


The Profit and Loss by Cost Centers shows a profit on sales and conference cost centers and loss on everything else. Every year, the sot center of core operations loses money as well as the centers of publications and web. We counteract this by selling products and running a conference at a profit. Renewing income is membership dues; we cannot run the office on what we get on membership. Entrepreneurial activities keep the office going. Orange alert only because we are finding nonrecurring income to support recurring expenses. The financial picture has not changed; cross subsidies have always been the case. Fortunately we can absorb some volatility for a few years.


The unclassified cost center represents the contract with the university, this line always comes out to the penny. We transfer the money to university, previously we ran a deficit, and this year we have a surplus. We are carrying a slight cushion in the University at Albany account. Our accounting books are on a cash basis.


Jay Forrester stated the relationship with Wiley and management of conference are the two big issues and they relate directly to the budget.


Publications Reports:


Jack Pugh - Webmaster: The System Dynamics web continues to be popular with hits growing 40% over the last 3 years to 2,900 per month. The big change this past year is Vedat Diker’s graduation. Luis Luna is doing some of the tasks for which he was responsible. Roberta and Jen are managing the conference pages. Bob Eberlein is redesigning the paper submission system to simplify it. A good submission system will reduce the burden on both the home office and the program chairman.


Brian Dangerfield by Bob Eberlein - Executive Editor Report outlines submissions, etc. Bob Eberlein commented that though the inflow looks healthy it seems it could be quite a bit bigger.


Steve Hardman by Bob Eberlein - Publisher’s Report: Membership and institutional subscriptions are up. Constant incremental progress. Abstracting work. [See Steve Hardman’s report.]


VP meetings: Jim Lyneis: Thanks the NYC conference committee. Stated Boston will be the default conference site for 2005. 2004 is progressing. For the 2006-2007 conferences, once we agree to guidelines, the people interested will be contacted. Attached reports:


Khalid Saeed stated that Oxford is too expense. He sees two issues – cost and timing; cost is addressed in 2005, but 2004 is very high. Perhaps we could change the schedule to a non-peak travel period. Pål Davidsen stated that the time of year is an enormous issue. Bob Eberlein noted in Oxford, the exchange rate has hurt us and that with more complete conference selection guidelines it might not have been selected due to cost. The practical options we had with Oxford were to basically lose money or have it with higher prices with fewer attendants. The cost of the Oxford conference will be about the same or less than NYC for Europeans.


Mike Radzicki - Conference Survey Report: This has been done now for 4 years, performed by Shelly Friedman this year. The survey has adopted a well-known way of measuring satisfaction. The instruments were modified, data assembled. Looking at the ‘03 conference and also over time it ranked over from Palermo, and ranged high in satisfaction with Atlanta. The sampling technique is that at arrival they are asked what do they expect, after the conference asked what did they get. We must either raise perceptions or lower their expectations to improve conference survey results.


The zone of tolerance is defined; if the perception is above zone of tolerance then everyone is happy. If within, still ok, but gives room for improvement. If the perception is below the zone of tolerance, then people are unhappy. The expectation portion of the survey was completed by a sample of 50 people. Everyone did post conference survey, although not 100% turned in post conference survey. Measures have been taken to shorten the survey; there is a lot of experience behind the survey. An option is that the survey may go on a commercial website. There is plenty more to do. Each year more questions are added which makes the survey longer.


Deborah Andersen stated the Society questionnaire may be out of compliance with the University of Albany human subjects compliance standards for the University at Albany. She will undertake to have the survey reviewed to correct this.


Ginny Wiley – Members and Chapters Report: A hope is to enlarge the Society member lists by including chapter member lists. Also, Strategy Dynamics SIG is interested in becoming formally a SIG.

Motion by Ginny Wiley: To formally accept the Swiss chapter into the System Dynamics Society.

Seconded by David Andersen.

Discussion: Question raised but the answer was unknown: How many members are students? Ginny Wiley stated their constitution is in order.

Unanimously approved.

Bob Eberlein welcomes them as a chapter.


Motion by Ginny Wiley: To formally accept the Economic Dynamics chapter into the System Dynamics Society. Their constitution was reviewed and in order.

Seconded by Jay Forrester.

Discussion: Mike Radzicki stated a group met in NYC, the goal to unite economists and system dynamicists. Discussion centered on hosting a website, to publishing papers, working papers, for different levels, to hosting or co-hosting conferences, partnering with economic organizations, to having tee shirts printed. Mike Radzicki stated the website will happen, they will make a presence at economic conferences, and meet regularly. Ginny Wiley stated this vote generated interest on chapters and the question of whether a chapter should be local or topic-related. Bob Eberlein stated that SIG’s are formed to get together over a topic of interest in a specific area and do not need a lot of structure. Historically chapters are geographic based, but not necessary to be geo-base. Makes sense to make the economic dynamics chapter a chapter.

Unanimously approved.


Ginny Wiley stated India is in question, Mexico has expressed an interest. Strategy Dynamics SIG will probably want to form before the Oxford conference. In the future, the person proposing a chapter or SIG must be included on the listserv to respond directly to questions. Discussion should last for 3 weeks before an electronic vote is taken.


Pål Davidsen stated Indonesia is interested in forming a chapter. Japanese Report is in the web. Bob suggests perhaps we should have a formalized outline for Chapter and SIG reports and Ginny Wiley undertook to create this.


Allen Boorstein stated that SIG’s, and chapter members can be involved in many SIG’s if chapters are only geographic. Bob feels it makes sense to do both. An SIG cannot charge a membership fee. A chapter can. A chapter is a legal entity. David Andersen put forward the idea of a brief but honorific way to recognize chapters at the conference. Suggestions included posters for chapters at registration, or an event (including flags) at the opening ceremony. PowerPoint presentation for all! Ginny Wiley will research ways to accomplish this.


Committee and other reports:


Awards Committee - John Morecroft presented by Bob Eberlein – the Dana Meadows Award, new guidelines will allow recipient to be notified in advance of the conference, and receive money for that year; not the next year.  Runners-up will be recognizing even if they are not at the conference. Co-authors must state intellectual content is of student.


David Andersen pointed out that the Forrester Award is an unfunded mandate and that this makes it harder to balance a budget. Bob clarified that the Dana Meadows award is neither funded nor mandated. It is supported by the generous contribution of Allen Boorstein and will go away if we do not get funding every year. An endowment account for the awards would be best. Allen Boorstein stated we should endow the awards. He stated he will contribute to endowment and is looking for others to join him, so that the award is preserved. David Andersen says great!


Break for lunch


Bob Eberlein stated the issues we need to discuss are Conference Site Selection Guidelines and our relationship with Wiley.


Guidelines for Conference Proposals and Selection Requirements:

Jim Lyneis gave a bit of history on why we need the conference guideline. The hope is to have two default conference sites, although nothing is yet identified in Europe. The first sections deal with general criteria addressing easy access, goals, registration fees, etc. suggestions are welcome. Sections 4 and 5 continuing with the model of rotating sites, if no proposals meet the criteria; we go to the default site.  Next section lays out considerations that each conference proposal ought to address, such as direct conference costs, program, facility, risks, accessible and low cost, people who can be counted on to do the job, responsibilities of local host. Host must express interests that address the criteria, it is then reviewed by VP Meetings, and if the criteria are met, then they are asked to prepare a formal proposal.


Bob Eberlein stated if a site does not meet the criteria, it would not come to the pc.


Jay Forrester noted the risk is carried by the Society. Perhaps it could be shared or the host could carry any deficit. Allen suggested running a conference in a location where we know people will come. David Andersen recalled during the Tokyo conference, sponsors underwrote the conference, and in New Zealand, Bob Cavana and the University of Wellington absorbed the risk. Pål Davidsen held that taking out the banquet makes producing a proposal easier. He suggested we reconfigure our airfare for conference attendance with hubs like Amsterdam, NYC and Tokyo. David Andersen noted there is a reduced number of people sitting around the Policy Council table and asks how do we get this properly discussed? Since the only default conference is in Boston, we should make sure a broader discussion should happen about this.


Allen said perhaps NYC could be a default site. Bob Eberlein replied it is more expensive than Boston. Boston has a great conference hotel; the Roosevelt cannot compete as a conference hotel. Khalid Saeed suggested having a plenary conference when people can inexpensively go to the meeting (not in the summer). Bob Eberlein mentioned the site could be in a warm place in USA, perhaps New Orleans. Mike Radzicki stated everyone should be in on this discussion as the scheduling of the conference is a sensitive issue.


Bob Eberlein asked what is a good way to gather information on the timing of the conference? We may need to go to general membership, use the newsletter, ask for a survey on when to hold the research conference. Pål Davidsen suggests we define the options. Say, define one month. Non-anonymous, not a vote, but a survey. Also a letter asking, “why haven’t you come?”


Ginny Wiley stated we need to make sure we don’t want to use default site year after year. Bob Eberlein stated it makes sense that representatives to chapters are asked to send in proposals. Ginny Wiley inquired how do we make sure others are asked?  Bob Eberlein speculated that perhaps the guidelines so rigorous that we will have to turn down proposals. Pål Davidsen offered it would be much easier to submit a proposal now with clear guidelines. There was a concern that the tone of the guidelines is cut and dried. Perhaps it can be “cleaned up” as it is of great value. Mike Radzicki also stated that laying out in black and white what is expected is very helpful.


Jay Forrester declared the Society has a tendency to try to reach too many people catering to low cost. Bob Eberlein said we cannot price them out of the conference. Scholarship could help this. Higher registration fee may subsidize this. Jim Lyneis suggested adding a paragraph and work on the tone of the guidelines. It can be posted on the website for further comment and a vote. Motion made by Bob Eberlein, that the guidelines be worked on, that they be put on the website for further comment and that it is voted electronically well before the Oxford conference. He also noted that the consensus of this meeting, that it is a good proposal be known.

Seconded by Allen Boorstein.


Discussion: David Andersen moves that this be considered at the next pc meeting. David Andersen argued this needs a face-to-face discussion. Bob Eberlein stated it’s necessary to be able to look at the guidelines at the next pc meeting and use them to judge sites for 2006 sites. The interim guidelines are needed to move forward. David Andersen maintained we need a more complete discussion. Everyone needs to see what the guidelines are trying to do.


Bob Eberlein proposed a three-part procedure: 1. Approve the draft guidelines electronically as interim guidelines (send by email) 2. Development of ideas to incorporate into the guidelines. 3. Finalized wording and document to be voted on in Oxford.


Bob Eberlein proposed a friendly amendment to the motion to adopt the new guidelines: That we adopt the draft guidelines as interim, and that the Policy Council vote on the final guidelines in Oxford; and that we use the interim guideline for evaluation of the 2006 proposed sites and also discuss it online to create the final guidelines which will be voted on in the summer.

Seconded by Jay Forrester

Unanimously approved.


Jim Lyneis informed the Policy Council that for the 2006 conference we have one serious pre-proposal. A quick read shows it does not meet our guidelines in terms of expense. Other than that, we have expressions of interest but nothing serious. No strong proposals. Bob Eberlein suggests we make the draft guidelines available, and ask them to consider.


Mike Radzicki asked how does it work for the European default? Jim Lyneis replied we would have to come up with a European default site. Bob Eberlein stated we do need to have a conference every year. Pål Davidsen will put together a default proposal for Bergen for 2006. There is interest in Greek proposal, but too expensive as-is.


Relationship with Wiley. Bob Eberlein stated Wiley came to the Society after the NYC conference with a proposal to give us more money. We started thinking, what should our relationship be? Brian Dangerfield did research into how the OR Society does this. They use Palgrave as a publisher and provide a membership list to Palgrave for mailing of members’ copies. The publisher, in turn, gives the OR society a fraction of  the profit from the institutional subscriptions. If we followed this model, the big difference is that we would have to take over the membership. We would send the labels to the publisher; they would no longer maintain the membership. This is much more in line with the way other societies do business with a publisher. At this point member management is not a plus at Wiley.


The publisher should take care of publishing and institutional subscriptions. We are smaller than the OR, so may not be able to get terms quite as favorable.


Jay Forrester stated we should pay Wiley what is fair, not simply get a percentage back.


Bob Eberlein summarized that there are two aspects: What do we pay Wiley, and that they have the right to sell our journal and received income. Dues collection will be completely out of Wiley’s responsibilities. We provide a list to Wiley for mailing. They have been getting a good deal. We negotiated this deal when we were much smaller. They agreed to manage the membership. They would still go copy edit.


Allen stated there seems to be many others that may want to publish for us. Bob Eberlein said it would not hurt to talk to Cornell University Press. Mike Radzicki has looked at Berkeley Electronic Press and that set up is quite interesting. David Andersen said that we should consider all the benefits of Wiley, that they have been a good partner and we should work to maintain the relationship. The consensus was that all is well on the publications side, but we should consider alternatives. Managing our own membership will make it easier to talk to publishers.


Jay Forrester asks what is the chance that universities will reject all Wiley journals as Cornell has recently done with Elsiver. Bob Eberlein replied that is a possibility and we need to consider that in the contracting.


Actual institutional subscriptions might exceed numbers given because of bundled subscriptions, we need to clarify that.


David Andersen comments we have benefited from our relationship with Wiley. He hopes we approach these discussions to enhance the partnership and move cooperatively to remove them from our database management. Hopes it is a last resort to switch from Wiley.


Mike Radzicki asked, would the Publications Committee put numbers together to see how everything stacks up? Bob Eberlein stated that that is beyond the mandate of the Publications Committee. Reviewing the membership of Publications Committee members: Eric Wolstenholme, George Richardson, Jay Forrester, and Graham Winch. The committee has not been very active and it might make sense to reconstitute it.  Jay Forrester noted that he had not been very active on this committee recently and offered to resign. Bob Eberlein suggested that the VP Publications and Editor should be ex-officio members. No recommendation or decision came out of the discussion.


Allen observes perhaps we could have an expert look at the demographics of our issues. He will have a colleague look at our membership and who would be a good publisher. Bob Eberlein replies if he has understanding on who would be a good publisher, that would be great.


David Andersen suggested forming a negotiation committee with Bob Eberlein as the chair. He commented that face-to-face is important, perhaps in March when Roberta Spencer is going over to the UK. Talk about other issues and proposals in Oxford. The strategy is that someone needs to show up, meet with the guy who makes the decision and leave with the best offer. We need a proposal from Wiley.


Lees Stunts suggested that we decide first if we are taking the membership out of Wiley’s domain.


Motion by Ginny Wiley that the Society Home office will take over management of the membership.

Seconded by Jay Forrester

Unanimously approved.


Jay Forrester observed that the exchange rate is an issue. Bob Eberlein confirmed the contract needed to be in US dollars for any fixed amounts.


Motion by Deborah Andersen that the Policy Council constitutes the Negotiation Committee consisting of Jay Forrester, Allen Boorstein, Mike Radzicki, Jac Vennix, Brian Dangerfield, George Richardson and Bob Eberlein as chair and charge this committee to submit electronically to the entire Policy Council for voting by May 15th two or more firm proposals for publication of the System Dynamics Review. The voting should be completed within three weeks after the proposal is submitted.


Seconded by Jim Lyneis.

Unanimously approved.


Important Issues:


Bob Eberlein stated the goals of budget and activity support are to increase quality of services, and decrease the workload. There are two aspects to help accomplish this - increase automation, and transfer some task to volunteers. The work at the home office should be sustained with 2 full time people. Pål Davidsen stated the idea of pairing pc members will officers will help provided continuity and assist in decreasing labor at the home office.


Pål Davidsen also feels it is important to have local host and conference chair. Bob Eberlein comments we need to clean up definition of the conference chair and the program chair. The tasks and relationship needs clarification.


Bob Eberlein stated he hopes to have the conference program guidelines done by summer 2004. The submission website will make it easy for thread chairs.


Society proprieties:


Bob Eberlein stated he has been focused on micro management and the central office operations. But he feels he should be worried about bigger picture.


Discussion and development ideas:


Mandates for VP’s. Bob Eberlein summarized that we should review what VP’s do we have, and see if the mandates should be changed; someone has to pay attention to this. Mike Radzicki stated it should be clear what the job is, it should be detailed - this is your job. In fact the nominating committee should tell nominees. And, VP’s needs to be held accountable. Some people come through, but others don’t without help. Mike Radzicki urged clarification at the time of nomination and later by the President that jobs are clear.  Pål Davidsen asked if have we moved and decided on the fact that the program chair is not the President Elect, and Bob Eberlein confirms the answer is yes.


Bob Eberlein stated currently electronic voting is done via email, with the central office counting the votes. This process is somewhat cumbersome, and the proposal is to replace it with a simple web based system that will allow people to vote and see the votes of others online. It will be easier for process and will be more like sitting around a table. Bob Eberlein has volunteered to do this.


Bob Eberlein feels the awards committee could be reorganized so that it constitutes something more formal. David Andersen stated he hopes that SIG’s could handle staffing and selection oversight by awards committee.


Bob Eberlein reported that Bob Cavana is working on encourage chapter growth and opening relationships with other societies.


Conference Scholarship Committee: The 2005 budget has build in a few scholarships and free hotel rooms. Bob Eberlein stated we need a formal procedure and Bob Eberlein is working on this. This will enable people to come who otherwise would not be able to attend. Conceivably the awards committee could oversee this.


Mike Radzicki asks is it possible on some of these committees that the committees can go outside Policy Council? Bob Eberlein replied yes, make it more broad based. Reaching out is a great idea. Ginny Wiley commented that the Past Presidents offer a lot of wealth for projects like this.


Bob Eberlein talked about the privileges of being a pc member. In terms of PC members, everyone pays, for membership, for conferences. No free membership. It’s a bit confusing since the editorial board gets free subscription to the System Dynamics Review. Members are expected to contribute on email discussions and other ways. The privilege of serving is that the Officers and Policy Council members get a hand in guiding the development of the Society, and the field.


Pål Davidsen talked about the Curriculum Committee. It’s appropriate to ask if there should be a Curriculum Committee. There was discussion about the major split in the Society- if it made sense or not to certify being a system dynamicist. Should this committee formally be deleted? This is an ad hoc committee, so no formal deletion is needed.


Khalid Saeed stated he is not in favor of converging on a curriculum. But, as more universities add classes, there may be some need for accreditation at the level of the program. At WPI, some people have asked who does the accreditation. Perhaps it would be useful to have an accreditation program. Pål Davidsen added, for example in Egypt they want a license to offer the courses. This would address what the program is, and the quality of the teaching. Bob Eberlein stated if someone has an idea and energy, follow up and bring it to the Policy Council. Previously, no one really wanted to do it. Even with accreditation, with champions, there will still be resistance.


Work to do, looking for volunteers:


Bob Eberlein stated there may be opportunities to raise more money by reselling products over our website; opportunities to enhance membership; projects such as creating a yellow pages of resources available, etc. If anyone would like to do this, occasions exist.


3:00 PM Motion to adjourn made by Jim Lyneis

Seconded by David Andersen.

Unanimously approved.

 Last edited by JP 4/8/04