Executive Director's Report

Policy Council Meeting

July 1998

Québec City, Canada


Roberta L. Spencer

Home Office

Operations are intact and continuous. All financial information is computerized using the accounting program "Quick Books."

I see the position of Executive Director as having 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 planned 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 (Attachment I)

Membership services and recruitment. Continuous phone, E-mail and mail coverage are being provided. The replies are fast, focused and very responsive as shown by the positive feedback we have received. A sales and contact database has been growing since January 1, 1997. Currently we have over 1200 records of members, non-members and conference registrants who have contacted this office for products or information. An E-mail distribution list, made up of all E-mail contacts, is also being maintained and updated with every contact.

In 1998 to date, 33 new members have joined the Society as a result of their contact with this office in order to purchase a product or register for the conference. Other new members have contacted Wiley directly.

A Society office website is being maintained. It contains brochure information, including how to order past publications and how to become a member. The website contains conference information, including the call for papers, the registration brochure, the conference schedule and all conference details. There were 899 "hits" in June 1998 at the website. The site address is http://www.albany.edu/cpr/sds/

Coordination of the Society office site with the Policy Council site is being discussed. The possibility is currently being explored to have a domain name. The domain name would be systemdynamics.org and has been reserved.

Beer Distribution Game, Proceedings, Journal , and Bibliography Sales. There is great 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, 1998 totaled 273, and were shipped all over the world. (1997 total orders filled: 271)

Regarding the Beer Game: Sale of the Beer Game continues to be strong. In June 1997 a session of the Beer Game facilitated by John Sterman was videotaped. This raw material is in need of editing in order to produce an instructional video to "train the trainer." According to input from a range of clients from large corporations to small consulting firms, there seems to be a strong need for this new product.

New products available for the Beer Game include the deck of customer order cards and plastic playing chips. Postage is paid by the consumer on all Beer Game sales, increasing Society profits. I remain very enthusiastic about the continued interest and sales of the Beer Game.

Regarding back issues of the System Dynamics Review: The new product - a set of 21 back issues (Volume 1 - Volume 10) is offered for sale for $495.00, a savings of $195.00 over the individual purchase price. A minimum number of out-of-print issues has been photocopied and bound for sale, so now all past issues are available for sale. 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 continue to be available, although the bibliography needs to be updated. The current version is dated 1995. There has been interest on the part of the Information Sciences Department at the University at Albany to take on this updating task.


John Wiley & Sons continues to be very helpful and responsive. The 1998 membership directory will be dated September 1, 1998. The membership directory will be produced and distributed by John Wiley & Sons. The membership directory dated September 1, 1997 listed 680 members. (The membership count based on the directory is always a little higher than actual membership.) Membership as of June 30, 1998 is 605. (June 1997 = 495, membership is up 22%) Please see Attachment II for more detailed membership information.

In June 1998 a system was set up to send welcome letters to new members of the Society. When the Society office receives new member information from John Wiley & Sons, we mail out the welcome 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 corporate sponsors now will receive up to three free annual memberships. We have had success with this new arrangement. For 1998 sponsorship income is $11,000. (1997 was $4,000)

A more expansive procedure for managing sponsors needs to be developed and put into action. I will be expending more personal attention to this situation. Society Finances

Although the proposed 1998 budget projected a loss, we are showing a profit. The Society is managed around three cost centers and all three show a net profit. The cost centers are Conference, Core operations and Sales. Expenses for the Quebec conference will be reimbursed to the Society. Core operations are "holding their own" due to an increase in sponsor dues. Sales are up and profits are subsidizing the office as a whole. Please refer to the full statement shown in David's VP Finance Report.

Due to customer demand and conference involvement by the Society office, the Society has begun to accept credit card payments. This eliminates significant purchase barriers, especially for international customers. The processing charge would be 2.93% on all credit card sales (3.75 for AmEx) with a minimum monthly processing charge of $35.00 Our break even point is approximately $1200 per month. In addition, there is a $15 per month statement fee. Credit card sales (including conference registrations) for the past six months have been:


June 1998: $24,719


May 1998: $11,832


April 1998: $15,678


March 1998: $8465


February 1998: $2664


January 1998: $4904

Management of Conference

Per vote of the Policy Council, the Society has undertaken a shared responsibility in the planning and management of the Quebec conference. Full details are given in the attached Memorandum of Understanding.

Administrative Calendar

A Presidential Initiative in 1997 was to create the Administrative Calendar. The rationale 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 Calendar to date. As always, I appreciate input.

Planned Initiatives

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


Developing a Records and Archive System


Aid in Coordination and Development of Electronic Presence

Support to Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters

A proposal has been submitted by a student group in Mexico.

Current Allocation of Effort for Executive Director

Daily time sheets are recorded as time is separated into three cost centers at the System Dynamics Society. Most of my time on Society work continues to be spent on current operations. With the addition of Jennifer Rowe as Assistant to the Director, I am starting to find time for the new initiatives.


Attachment I

Routine Operations - Other Processes

(Not Tied to Administrative Calendar or Research Conference)


Order and Market Beer Game


Inventory and Fill Orders for back issues of Proceedings


Inventory and Fill Orders for back issues of System Dynamics Review (Before Wiley)


Respond to general member inquiries


Manage Certification of Chapters and Special Interest Groups


Records Retention and Preservation




Reconcile Membership Issues/Discrepancies with John Wiley & Sons


Maintain Checking Account


Attachment II

System Dynamics Society Membership

(According to Membership Directories)

Membership over time:



1998 - 605


1997 - 680


1996 - 572


1995 - 504


1994 - 484


1993 - 487


1992 - 406


1991 - 418



June 1998 - 605


June 1997 - 495

Geographic Distribution for 1996 and 1997 - 47 Countries Including:

Country 1996 1997
Argentina 4 4
Australia 17 15
Austria 1 1
Bangladesh 1 1
Belgium 1 1
Brazil 2 5
Canada 15 23
Chile 0 2
China 1 3
Columbia 4 4
Croatia 1 1
Denmark 4 4
Finland 2 2
France 4 5
Germany 14 21
Greece 2 3
India 2 2
Indonesia 4 6
Iran 0 1
Israel 2 1
Italy 17 23
Japan 31 33
Korea 4 6
Malaysia 0 6
Mexico 3 2
New Zealand 4 5
Nigeria 1 1
Norway 9 16
People's R.O.C. 5 0
Peru 1 1
Philippines 1 1
Poland 3 4
Portugal 3 2
Saudi Arabia 0 1
Singapore 2 1
South Africa 2 1
South Korea 0 2
Spain 21 24
Sweden 6 8
Switzerland 15 16
Taiwan 4 6
Thailand 2 1
The Netherlands 12 18
Turkey 1 7
UK 44 65
USA 297 323
Venezuela 2 1
Vietnam 1 0
Russia 0 1
Totals 572 680


Attachment III

Administrative Calendar

(To be Added to, Rationalized, and Scheduled to an Annual Calendar.)

Business Processes Tightly Linked to Administrative Calendar:


Tax Filings


Manage agenda and follow-up for Winter Meeting of Policy Council (Jan, Feb)


Manage agenda and follow-up for Summer Meeting of Policy Council at Research Conference


Manage agenda and follow-up for Fall (?) Meeting of Policy Council


Presidents letter (Max 2 pages), when?


Manage Nominations and Elections Procedures




Jay W. Forrester Award Selection Procedure


New Awards Such as Best PhD dissertation??


Manage Society Sponsors


Annual Membership Billing


Annual Membership Directory


Manage Conference Site Selection (3-4 years in advance)


Update Bibliography


Executive director's report


Editor's report


Treasurer's report


Notices in journals - for what and when


Update SDR - SDS publications for sale page


May 15 Federal (no fee) and State ($100 fee) review to be filed


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


Work with Administration Committee to refine processes.


Who does what/when?


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 Directors Role for Quebéc 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


    Manage Site Arrangements




    Receiving Fees


    Special Events


  4. Develop Electronic Presence