Minutes of the Policy Council Meeting
of the
System Dynamics Society
17 July 2005
Seaport Hotel, Boston, MA, USA

In Attendance


Graham Winch (President), Mike Radzicki (President Elect), Robert Eberlein (Past President), Jay W.Forrester (Founding President), David Packer (Secretary), David Andersen (Vice President--Finance), Deborah Andersen (Vice President—Publications), Ginny Wiley (Vice President—Member and Chapters Activities), James Lyneis (Vice President--- Meetings), Bob Cavana (Vice President—At Large), Brian Dangerfield (Executive Editor, System Dynamics Review).

Policy Council:

Allen Boorstein, David Exelby, Deborah Campbell, David Lane, Brad Morrison, Scott Rockart, Jim Thompson.


Yaman Barlas, Vedat Diker, Peirre Ehrlich (Brazil Chapter), Nikko Georgantzas (Hellenic Chapter), Peter Hovmand, Michael Kennedy (Education SIG), Birgit Kopainsky (Student Chapter and Swiss Chapter), Hironori Kurono, Peter Milling, John Morecroft, Oleg Pavlov (Economic Dynamics Chapter), Anastassios Perdicoulis (Environmental Dynamics SIG), Jack Pugh (Webmaster), Graham Russel (Wiley), Roberta Spencer (Executive Director), Rohita Singh (Australasia Chapter), John Sterman,  Lees Stuntz, Akira Uchino (Japan Chapter), Silvia Ulli-Beer (Swiss Chapter)

Call to Order and Agenda Overview

President Graham Winch called the meeting to order at 1:10pm, reviewed meeting procedures, and provided an overview of the agenda.

Reports, Announcements, and Straightforward Agenda Items

Minutes: Secretary Dave Packer moved and David Lane seconded a motion to approve minutes of the February 2005 Policy Council Meeting held at MIT in Cambridge, MA as written.  The motion received unanimous approval. 

Decision Recap:  Graham Winch noted for the record that affirmative email votes to establish a Business SIG and a Russian Chapter were recorded after the last Policy Council meeting.

VP Publications: (Deborah Andersen).  Deborah referred participants to her complete report on the web as well as asking for people to work on the Open Source policy and process. 

--Publisher of the System Dynamics Review (SDR): (Graham Russel of John Wiley).  Graham distributed his report and noted a number of favorable indicators for the SDR, especially the Impact Factor and citation statistics.  The proposal to digitize all past issues is underway and will be coming soon.  In response to a question by Bob Cavana, he noted that that the Systems Research and Behavioral Science journal is a good complement to SDR,

--Webmaster: (Jack Pugh).  Jack reported that there are no major changes and that he is glad that the committees established to work on web issues are meeting during the conference to plan the future, which needs to happen.

--System Dynamics Review: (Brian Dangerfield).  Brian commented on the healthy state of current issues.  He announced that Jac Vennix is stepping down as a Managing Editor (becoming an Associate Editor) and will be replaced by Pal Davidson and Bob Cavana who, along with Andy Ford, provide the review with three fine Managing Editors which will help the inflow of papers.  He also said that Manuscript Central, an automation tool used by one-third of the Wiley journals looks excellent and will be used for the SDR.  Graham Winch noted the positive news that SDR is now the 35th top management journal in the world and that the complete list of SDR articles and titles is on the web. 

--Newsletters: (Graham Winch).  There are now four issues annually, two electronic and two hard-copy, scheduled in conjunction with renewal efforts of the home office.  News for these publications is wanted, and chapters, SIGs and others are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity for publicity.  

Administrative Committee: (Peter Milling).  Peter noted that the issues covered in the committee meeting just prior to the Policy Council were almost wholly financial and will be covered in the VP Finance report.  He also stated that the Administrative Committee reviewed the 2006 budget proposal and supports it completely.

Executive Director: (Roberta Spencer).  Roberta referenced her full report, but singled out that the Society’s name has been formally changed to the System Dynamics Society and that the major new initiatives are the ownership of the membership function (from Wiley), the fine web conference support sysem, the coming reprint of “The Electronic Oracle” by Dana Meadows, new investment policies for managing our assets, and establishing the endowment to support the Dana Meadows student award.  John Sterman announced that the endowment is very close to the $60,000 goal and that he hopes the goal will be met during the conference.  (Note:  later, on Wednesday July 20, John announced that this had actually happened!).  In terms of routine operations, Roberta noted that membership had passed the 1000 mark (cheers!) and that this is the largest conference ever, with 503 attendees.  Also, more than 300 volunteers support the conference, and play a key role in enabling it to be such an outstanding event.

VP Finance: (David Andersen).  David referred to his written report and budget proposal, and noted that the Home Office expansion is in process, with a cost to the Society of $25,000 which has been committed.  He moved and Graham Winch seconded a motion to add a “Market Adjustment Salary Adjustment” to the 2005 budget, based on a compensation survey and performance assessment of four staff members in the amount of $9667.  The motion passed unanimously. 

David reviewed the budget proposal for 2006, which has small surplus (about $2000), a staffing plan that adds a new graduate assistant in addition to the current two salaried and two hourly staff.  It assumes a conference of 400 attendees at the same fee as this year.  He noted our assets exceed $400,000 so we have a good buffer for contingencies or possible investments.  The auditor’s review found no significant issues and, in response to a question about the new membership accounting from Jay Forrester, David assured us that the auditors see no problem with the reporting. 

David Andersen moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion to approve the proposed 2006 budget.  In active discussion Ginny Wiley shared a concern that our financial structure, where conference and product profits cover losses in core operations and web activity, could lessen the likelihood that we would approve a conference in an area that could generated new growth.  Bob Cavana shared this concern and urged a longer range plan that deals with this by anticipating that periodically we hold the conference in a less affluent venue.  Graham Winch opined that the question is how risk averse should the Society be.  Jay Forrester said we should have the analysis of what benefits unusual conference locations actually provide.  It was noted that with our financial strength (Jack Pugh pointed out that our assets of $400,000 approximate a full year’s expenses) give us substantial flexibility to invest wisely.  Also, David Andersen pointed out that the structural imbalance is improving as a result of the Wiley changes and Graham Winch noted that historically our low membership fees and our increasingly high level of service have made us count on conference profits to provide a balance. Mike Radzicki committed to take this subject on as an important topic and Bob Eberlein closed the discussion with a comment that he has real energy for a longer term perspective and that the Three Presidents will take this on and openly solicit views.

The motion to approve the 2006 Budget Proposal carried unanimously. 

David Anderson moved (seconded by Bob Cavana): To approve the proposed budget with the expectation that the Administrative Committee will modify it after further study.  In brief discussion, David was asked about his concern level and he responded that it was more positive than last year.  The motion was approved unanimously.

VP Meetings: (Jim Lyneis).  Jim reviewed the conference status by year.

--2005.  Record attendance (502), great program!

--2006. Nijmegen, The Netherlands (Radboud University) is on track. The theme is Dynamics of Innovation in Networks.   Ozge Pala described the venue, noting that although housing is dispersed, the city is small and the transportation system excellent and community will be enhanced by group social events.  Registration fee will be about $425 (same as this year).

--2007.  To be covered later in the Pressing Issues section.

--2008.  Pre-proposals have been received from Spain (San Sebastian) and South Korea (Seoul).  At least one other is expected from Egypt (Cairo).

Jim commented that the last Pacific Rim conference was nine years ago in New Zealand.  Also that potential future sites include Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mexico and US. 

It was suggested that the proposal and selection process be made clear via a newsletter note.  Finally, Graham Winch noted that Keble volunteer helpers (2004 conference) will receive scholarships for future conferences including this one, as this was not feasible at Keble because of the bundled fee structure. 

VP Members and Chapters:  (Ginny Wiley).  Ginny welcomed our new Russian Chapter and the new Business SIG.  She moved and Brad Morrison seconded that the proposed Pakistani Chapter be accepted, noting that there had been good email information and support by Kahlid Saeed, but that given the proximity of the Policy Council meeting an actual vote should be taken here.  The motion was approved unanimously.  and was supported with applause. 

Ginny noted that we now have fifteen chapters and five SIGS, a major success story for the Society.  She also noted that it may be desirable to have a “probationary period” for potential chapters that have less than 10 members.  This will be a topic at the Winter Policy Council meeting.

Brief updates were received from the following chapters: China, Economics Dynamics, Japan, Student, UK, and Brazil.  India, a potential chapter, also reported.  Ginny said that potential SIGs appear to be Strategy, Urban and Rural Development, and Military, all yet to be proposed.  Finally, David Andersen asked how we can better support chapters and SIGs, with dollars, articles, and the like.  Ginny will explore. 

Also, written reports were received from Russia, Switzerland, Hellenic, Italy, and Security.

 VP at Large:  (Bob Cavana).  Bob focused on the policy for launching the 20 Wiley complimentary members, thanking the committee supporting this (David Lane, Graham Winch, Scott Rockart).  Operation of the complimentary scheme is that there should be up to 10 memberships offered per year, with each lasting for up to two years.  This is intended to encourage SD activity in under-represented areas (typically lower-income, developing-economy regions) including assisting in the formation of new chapters in these areas. It was noted that the Policy Council had earlier agreed this scheme, so no vote is required at this time.

Nominating Committee: (Graham Winch).  Graham announced that this committee which is his responsibility to create has not yet been formed and that a new proposed committee will be submitted to the Policy Council for e-vote approval as soon as possible following the meeting.

Diversity Committee: (Deborah Campbell).  First, Graham Winch clarified that the Society has only Standing and Ad-Hoc committees, so that this committee is and Ad-Hoc committee linked to the VP Members.

Deb referenced her full report and briefly reviewed the background for the committee and the pilot survey to identify diversity trends.  She noted that women represent about 12% of members, are under-represented, and show different dynamics in joining and leaving.

She reviewed the proposal for this meeting, which is to (1) Create a definition of diversity for the winter Policy Council meeting, (2) agree that dimensions of diversity by integrated into membership processes, database, and reporting, and (3) agree that a Policy Council member always serve on the Diversity Committee.

In discussion, Ginny Wiley referred to Diana Fischer who has done substantial research in this area, Bob Cavana noted that chapters likely provide significant diversity and should be considered also, and Scott Rockart asked whether there are actions that we should be taking right now.  Deborah moved, David Andersen seconding, that the proposal be accepted, and the motion received unanimous approval.

Conference Scholarhip Committee (Bob Eberlein).  This topic should be handled as a conference issue, not a Policy Council issue.     

Awards Committee: (John Morecroft).  Graham Winch suggested that John put together information on the full gamut of awards, as the charter is now broader than the Forrester Award, including special awards and criteria.   It was also noted that there was concensus that new awards should be endowed (as with the Student Award) for clear reasons of sustainability. 

Organization and By-Laws Committee:  This committee which is in our by-laws needs to become active and assure the by-laws and policies are up to date (Mike Radzicki said some are not), and incorporate changes on a timely basis.  Graham Winch will follow up.

Pressing Issues

2007 Conference: (Jim Lyneis).  Jim reviewed the proposal for a Boston area conference celebrating the 5oth anniversary of the field, covering hotel options (Seaport, Hyatt Regency, Sonesta) and possible dates.  Comments should go to Bob Eberlein off-line.  John Sterman requested ideas for special events which might even add time to the conference beyond the normal schedule.  Graham Winch stressed the need for a specific budget by the next Policy Council meeting and Ginny Wiley stressed the need to negotiate as soon as possible for maximum leverage.  Jim Lyneis move with Brad Morrison seconding that the 2007 conference be in the Boston area and that the conference team be authorized to negotiate with hotels.  The motion carried unanimously.  A separate motion by Bob Eberlein seconded by Mike Radzicki was that John Sterman and Nelson Repennig be co-program chairs for the conference.  John committed to involve a larger, more diverse group on the committee.  This motion also carried unanimously.

Vice-President Structure and Roles: (Graham Winch).  Graham review the proposal, available on the web, developed by the Presidential Troika (Winch, Eberlein, Radzicki), giving the rationale for each element.  Key elements and rationales are:

--Chapter expansion and the formalities required now warrants VP Chapter focus, and membership growth and complexity (including operation of SIGs as a member service) warrants VP Membership focus as separate entities--currently there is one VP Members and Chapters.

--The VP Publications role needs clarification.

--There needs to be VP responsibility for electronic activities, a critical element in Society operations.

--Assistant VPs (AVPs) are proposed to provide help to VPs and to involve additional people for development and mentoring purposes.

--The Vice-President at Large position is proposed to be eliminated, given its non-specific charter and the expansion in other areas.

Intense discussion of this proposal included the following.  Dave Packer noted a similar proposal to split chapters and members and eliminate the at-large role was discussed extensively in Palermo several years back and was tabled.  He now fully agrees with the proposed split, but has reconsidered the at-large position and thinks it provides a valuable resource for the Council and Society, as has been so well demonstrated by Bob Cavana, the current incumbent.  Brad Morrrison concurred, on the basis that the issue is not “is it necessary?” but rather “is it good?”.  John Sterman pointed out that the downside is this role keeps good people out of other jobs.  Deb Campbell pointed out possible diversity advantages.

Graham Winch moved, Bob Eberlein seconding, acceptance of the proposal as written except for the AVP part (not yet discussed).  David Andersen offered an amendment taking out the proposed elimination of the VP at Large; this amendment was accepted.  Secretary Dave Packer explained that our By-Laws require a three-fifths (60%) vote of all Policy Council members (not just those present) for a policy change like this.  A vote was taken by raising hands, the result being that 16 people voted for the amended proposal.  This number being two-thirds (over 60%) of the 24 Policy Council Members, the motion passed.  After the vote, Ginny Wiley expressed her desire to take on the VP Chapters role and urged rapid appointment of a VP for Membership.  This nomination will be available for the Winter Policy Council Meeting.

A motion to approve the Assistant Vice-President support role was made by Graham Winch with Deborah Andersen seconding.  It was noted in discussion that most in this role will be current Policy Council members, but could include others with PC experience who have retired from the council. A hand vote was taken, and the motion passed with 17 for, none opposed.  Dave Packer noted that these actions need to be converted to policy language and our Policies formally updated.  Ginny Wiley proposed kudos to the Three Presidents, with which all concurred. 

Professional Development Conference: (Jim Thompson).  It was suggested and agreed that this idea should be handled by the Business SIG.

K-12 Memberships:  Ginny Wiley agreed to handle this issue with the Education SIG.

Program Guidelines and Conference Format Policy:  Deferred to VP Meetings.


Jim Lyneis moved with David Lane seconding that we adjourn; passed unanimously at 5:52pm

Respectfully Submitted,

David W. Packer, Secretary

25 July 2005/Revised 22 August 2005

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