National Capital System Dynamics Interest Group

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Report to the System Dynamics Society

Wellington, New Zealand

July 20, 1999

The National Capital System Dynamics Interest Group (NCSDIG) was formed in May 1998 by a small group of people who had recently completed the MIT/PBS-The Learning Channel distance education course in System Dynamics led by Jim Hines. The NCSDIG held its first meeting on June 1, 1998. We meet on the first Monday of each month and have just celebrated our first anniversary after twelve interesting and informative sessions.

The Ottawa region is not only Canada's national capital but also a technology centre of excellence with more than 900 companies involved in research and development in manufacturing and growth sectors such as telecommunications, multimedia and information technologies.

The NCSDIG is generously supported by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) who provide our meeting facilities. OCRI is a not-for-profit organization supported by over 400 members. They include large corporations and research laboratories, small and medium sized technology companies, post-secondary academic institutions, all of the region's school boards, regional government and private individuals. Its role is to build on the strengths of the region to advance research and development, lifelong learning, professional development and community infrastructure by working in collaboration with industries, colleges, universities and government laboratories.

Among other amenities, the OCRI Boardroom is equipped with a touch sensitive four-by-six foot intelligent wall display panel that has proven highly effective for interactive model development and exploration. The panel also supports free-form drawing and annotation in multiple colors.

The NCSDIG has adopted the following Vision Statement:


We will be recognized as the pre-eminent group of visionary men and women dedicated to developing, practicing and promoting the art and science of system dynamics in the National Capital Region.


Our Group will actively promote the development and exchange of innovative system-dynamics-related ideas and applications across the private and public sectors, in the National Capital Region.


Our Group will disseminate system-dynamics-related knowledge and concepts to the professional community at large.


Our Group will work as a synergistic team of practitioners who, at their core, share a commitment to learning about, and expanding the frontier of, system dynamics.


Our Group will attract highly skilled, educated, motivated and like-minded men and women.


Our Group will pursue its goals and aspirations in a manner that is challenging, collegial (fun), creative and visionary.

At present, NCSDIG operates entirely without membership fees or any form of funding. Members donate their time and expertise to sustain the Group.

Over the past year our group has grown to 40 people with some located over 100 miles away. They have varied backgrounds in defence, teaching and education, management consulting, legal, software development, water resources, etc. Out of the larger group we have maintained a consistent core of "regulars". We do not yet have a formalized governance and leadership structure although this is being considered.

To ensure a program of wide interest, a small committee of volunteers deals with administrative affairs and planning, leaving our meeting time free for learning and practicing SD. Examples from the year's program included:


People Express Airlines, generously donated by the MIT System Dynamics Group


WhatIf? - a locally developed modeling package from Robbert Associates


System Dynamics Games designed for classroom use.


A Report on the development of an SD Curriculum for Ontario High Schools


Combining IDEF0 Information Mapping standards with SD models


Review and discussion of public-domain SD Case Studies (i.e. Analog Devices, Ford etc.) * Use of SD Models in Project Management (Ken Cooper's classic paper on Ingalls Shipyard)


Use of SD in commodity production cycles (from a member's Doctoral Dissertation)


Dynamic impacts of the Y2K transition on a computer equipment manufacturer


An SD model of the NCSDIG itself, participation, time allocation and membership growth.

Social events have included a Christmas Dinner Dance and a summer BBQ.

In summary, over our first year we have developed a strong, continuing commitment to:


Widening interest in SD in our region and beyond


Collectively practicing the art and science of SD as applied to diverse fields of interest


Enhancing members' skills and experience in SD


Developing worldwide contacts including strengthening those with the SD Society

Looking ahead:


We are designing a Web Site to be operational in 3Q 1999.


We are examining the potential for offering introductory SD courses


We anticipate the future potential to apply for Chapter Status in the SD Society.

Our Needs:

Being a young organization in a complex and demanding field we could strongly benefit from input, sharing and cooperation with individuals and groups in strengthening our program content. To date, there are very few active, full-time practitioners of SD in our area so we tend to rely on them extensively to lead our meetings. We would greatly welcome the participation of any system dynamicists who may be in Ottawa around our meeting dates.