Executive Director's Report

Policy Council Meeting

18 August 1997

Istanbul, Turkey


Roberta L. Spencer

Status of the Home Office

The home office is completely set up, operations are intact and continuous, especially the sales and services to members. The physical inventory of proceedings, journals and archives has been relocated and is fully cataloged and organized on bookshelves. The financial aspect of the transition is progressing well with the expert help of Jack Pugh. All existing financial information is in great shape, but because of some past computer and program issues in Albany, the finances for the Society are not totally set up yet. Any financial information in this report currently only reflects the local Albany bookkeeping. Meetings will be taking place in Istanbul to progress on this issue.

I see the position of Executive Director with two distinct parts: the first part is maintaining current and routine operations, and the second part is development and new initiatives. Items listed below have been completed, are in the works or are planed for the future. With the guidance of the Administrative Committee I am forging ahead. I look forward to advice from the Policy Council on any item.

Routine Operations (See Attachment I)

Membership services. Continuous phone, E-mail and mail coverage are being provided. An all time high for phone calls reached 27 calls in one day, lowest has been 5 calls per day. E-mail messages run between 2 to 8 per day, and we receive about 4-5 letters per day regarding sales, membership and miscellaneous questions.

Non-members are referred to our office mainly by members, people at MIT, Pegasus Communications and readers of The Fifth Discipline. Earlier this year, people made 2 to 3 calls before reaching the System Dynamics Society office. Access seems to be quicker now.

A local Society office website is under construction. It will contain the brochure information, including how to order past publications and how to become a member. The site address will be http://www.albany.edu/cpr/sds/

Beer Distribution Game, Proceedings, Journal Sales. There is much interest in the Beer Distribution Game, and less demand for the Proceedings and back issues of the System Dynamics Review. Orders filled (including bibliographies) as of June 30, 1997 totaled 148, and were shipped to 23 countries.

Regarding the Beer Game: In response to questions, additions and minor changes have been made to the Beer Game Instructions. We have also videotaped a session of the Beer Game facilitated by John Sterman. This raw material is in need of editing in order to produce an instruction video to “train the trainer.” In speaking with a range of people from large corporations to small consulting firms, there seems to be a great need for this new product. For clients who do not wish to run the game themselves, a facilitator’s list is being created in response to firms seeking to hire someone to facilitate the game. Working with the manufacturer for both the vinyl boards and the videos, we have been able to acquire cost reductions for these products.

Regarding back issues of the System Dynamics Review: A suggestion has been made for a gradual reduction in price on old issues. If this decision is made, clearance will be sought from the Administrative Committee.

Other. Bibliography disks are available, but the bibliography needs to be updated. Also, a new brochure has been designed for general Society information, sales of the products, and membership information.


John Wiley & Sons continues to be very helpful and responsive. As of June 30, 1997 there are 524 members, 82 of which are new. Please see Attachment II for more detailed membership information. A membership directory is currently being produced at John Wiley & Sons. It will be distributed in the very near future.

We are currently working on setting up a system to send welcome letters to new members of the Society. John Wiley & Sons will send information on new members to me and the Society office will mail out the letters.


In an effort to increase membership, the arrangement for sponsorship has been slightly changed. In lieu of receiving a free subscription with a sponsorship, the sponsor now will receive three free annual memberships. We have had one success with this new arrangement to date with a brand new sponsor. After the conference I will be talking with Jay Forrester about an increased role in the management of soliciting current sponsors and a method of contacting new sponsors to the Society.

Society Finances

As noted above, the finances are still in transition and progressing smoothly. As of June 30, 1997 income on the local books have totaled $38,922.00. Large expenses include salary, replenishing the supply of vinyl boards and videos, and videotaping a Beer Game session to produce a training video. Please see Attachment V.

All the local bookkeeping is computerized using Quicken. Jack Pugh will be working closely with the Society office over the next few months to make this transition complete.

Many clients ask if the Society accepts credit card payments. With the conference coming up in Quebec, I have done research on the costs associated with being able to accept credit card payments. Briefly, the processing charge would be 2.93% on all credit card sales with a minimum monthly processing charge of $35.00 Our break even point would be approximately $1200 per month. The rate is guaranteed for 3 years and the annual membership fee would be waived. In addition, there is a $15 per month statement fee, a one time charge of $150 for training/acquisition and a cost of $350 for software for our computer/modem for authorization.

Administrative Calendar

A new Presidential Initiative is to create the Administrative Calendar. The rational for this tool is for continuity of organizational memory. The Calendar will help the administration of the Society to be continuous, but also responsive to change. Please see the attached draft of the Administrative Calendar (Attachment III). Key people will need to comment on the Administrative Calendar and related processes to make it complete. The role of the Executive Director would be to help keep all the Society processes timely. Unfortunately there has been little progress on the Administrative Calender to date.

Planned Initiatives

Possible new initiatives (Attachment IV) that are currently not routine operating processes include:


Developing a Records and Archive System


Supplying Support to Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters


Develop a Link to the Annual Research Conference


Aid in Coordination and Development of Electronic Presence (with Bergen)

Current Allocation of Effort for Executive Director

Daily time sheets are recorded as my time is separated into three cost centers at the University at Albany, the main one being the System Dynamics Society. Most of my time on Society work continues to be spent on current operations. As the transition becomes complete, more time is being spent on system building. I continue to have difficulty trying to find enough time for the new initiatives listed above. We have completed, or are in the process of completing some new items. As of June 30, 1997 I have worked a total of 166 hours in overtime. We also had a graduate assistant work to assist in setting up the office. For the months of April, May and June, her hours totaled 105. Without this added assistance, the office would not be as organized as it is today. It would benefit the Society to be able to continue with this assistance.



Attachment I

Routine Operations

(Other Processes not tied to Administrative Calendar or Research Conference)

  1. Order and Market Beer Game
  2. Inventory and Fill Orders for back issues of Proceedings
  3. Inventory and Fill orders for back issues of the System Dynamics Review (Before Wiley)
  4. Respond to general member inquiries
  5. Manage Certification of Chapters and Special Interest Groups
  6. Records Retention and Preservation
  7. Archiving
  8. Reconcile Membership Issues/Discrepancies with Wiley
  9. Maintain Checking Account



Attachment II

System Dynamics Society Membership

Membership over time:

1997 (June) - 524
1996 - 572
1995 - 504
1994 - 484
1993 - 487
1992 - 406
1991 - 418

June 30, 1997 Statistics on Membership

Total Membership: 524
Regular Payment: 414
Reduced Payment: 110
New Members This Year: 82

Geographic Distribution for 1996 and Through June 30, 1997 - 44 Countries Including:

  1. Argentina 4
  2. Australia 17
  3. Austria 1
  4. Bangladesh 1
  5. Belgium 1
  6. Brazil 2
  7. Canada 15
  8. China 1
  9. Columbia 4
  10. Croatia 1
  11. Denmark 4
  12. Finland 2
  13. France 4
  14. Germany 14
  15. Greece 2
  16. India 2
  17. Indonesia 4
  18. Israel 2
  19. Italy 17
  20. Japan 31
  21. Korea 4
  22. Mexico 3
  23. New Zealand 4
  24. Nigeria 1
  25. Norway 9
  26. People's Republic of China 3
  27. Peru 1
  28. Philippines 1
  29. Poland 3
  30. Portugal 3
  31. Republic of China 2
  32. Singapore 2
  33. South Africa 2
  34. Spain 21
  35. Sweden 6
  36. Switzerland 15
  37. Taiwan 4
  38. Thailand 2
  39. The Netherlands 12
  40. Turkey 1
  41. UK 44
  42. USA 297 (in 37 states)
  43. Venezuela 2
  44. Vietnam 1



Attachment III
Administrative Calendar

(To be added to, rationalized, and scheduled to an annual calendar.)

Business Processes Tightly Linked to Administrative Calendar:

  1. Tax Filings
  2. Manage agenda and follow-up for Winter Meeting of Policy Council (Jan, Feb)
  3. Manage agenda and follow-up for Summer Meeting of Policy Council at Research Conference
  4. Manage agenda and follow-up for Fall (?) Meeting of Policy Council
  5. President's letter (Max 2 pages), when?
  6. Manage Nominations and Elections Procedures
  7. Awards:
    Jay W. Forrester Award Selection Procedure
    New Awards Such as Best PhD dissertation??
  8. Manage Society Sponsors
  9. Annual Membership Billing
  10. Annual Membership Directory
  11. Manage Conference Site Selection (3-4 years in advance)
  12. Update Bibliography
  13. Executive Director's Report
  14. Editor's Report
  15. Treasurer's Report
  16. Notices in journals - for what and when
  17. Update SDR - SDS publications for sale page
  18. May 15 Federal (no fee) and State ($100 fee) review to be filed
  19. By November 15 - File a list of officers and policy council members with the MA Secretary of State - a one page form that gives officers and date of annual meeting for the past year. Clerk has to be resident of MA
  20. Work with Administration Committee to refine processes.
  21. Who does what/when?
  22. How often are tasks/issues updated?



Attachment IV

Possible New Initiatives

(Not Routine Processes)

  1. Develop Records and Archive System
  2. Make Contacts and Support Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters
    Systems Thinking
  3. Link to Annual Research Conference
    Define Executive Director's Role
    for Quebec and future conferences
    Notice of Conference in Research Journals
    Manage Conference Program including:
    Call for Papers
    Proposed Review
    Paper Selection and Program Design
    Contact Sponsors (potential conflict) and Special Interest Groups
    Site Arrangements
    Receiving Fees
    Special Events
  4. Develop Electronic Presence (with Bergen)


Attachment V

Local Books - Society Finance

(Not Comprehensive Society Accounting)

As of June 30, 1997

Income Source Expenses Source
$ 30,787.00 From Society $ 11,502.00 Salary/Fringe
$ 17,715.00 Game Sales $ 8,467.00 Games Supplies
$ 14,515.00 Profit from Wiley $ 1,472.00 Shipping
$ 2,000.00 Sponsorship $ 1,451.00 IFR Indirect
$ 1,475.00 Prepaid Postage $ 1,083.00 Travel
$ 1,234.00 Proceedings Sales $ 1,000.00 Membership
$ 760.00 Membership $ 312.00 Copying
$ 749.00 Review Sales $ 277.00 Mailing Supplies
$ 315.00 Bibliography Sales $ 252.00 Phone, Etc.
$ 159.00 Miscellaneous $ 215.00 Refunds
$ 69,709.00 Total $ 26,031.00 Total