Executive Director's Report

Policy Council Meeting
February 1999
Worcester, Massachusetts
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 (See 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 1500 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, a total of 46 new members 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.

After the Quebéc conference, a personal invitation to become a member of the Society was sent to 76 conference attendees who were not members. This resulted in 10 new members registering through this office. (Others may have contacted Wiley directly.) In addition, in November 1998 we sent out 99 letters to 1997 members who did not renew for 1998. This resulted in 9 renewals at the end of 1998 for membership in 1998. 17 new or renewal memberships were processed through this office as a result of the Society Sponsorship incentive - receive up to three personal memberships with a sponsorship.

John Wiley & Sons continues to be very helpful and responsive. The 1998 membership directory is dated November 1, 1998. The membership directory was produced and distributed by John Wiley & Sons. Unfortunately, members outside Europe received their 1998 membership directory in 1999. 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.) The 1998 membership directory lists 808 members. Please see Attachment II for more detailed membership information. A computer problem at the Wiley office resulted in errors with many of the new E-mail addresses that were entered into the directory. A list of corrections will be mailed to all members.

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.

A Society office website is being maintained by a volunteer at the University at Albany, until it is taken over by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Once it is moved to WPI, the Society office and WPI will work closely together to keep it updated. The site currently contains brochure information, including how to order past publications and the beer game, and how to become a member. The website contains New Zealand conference information, including the call for papers, the conference schedule and all conference details available at this time. A link has been set up to the conference site in New Zealand. There were over 900 "hits" in July before the 1998 conference.


August hits: 863


September hits: 835


October hits: 775


November hits: 812


December hits: 669


January 1999 hits: 1004

The site address is http://www.albany.edu/cpr/sds/

The domain name is 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 December 31, 1998 totaled 560, and were shipped to 49 countries. (1997 total orders filled: 271) The number of game boards sold in 1998: 839

Regarding the Beer Game: Sales of the Beer Game continues to be strong. According to input from a range of clients from large corporations to small consulting firms, there seems to be a strong need for an instructional video to "train the trainer." Raw material exists for this project, but more videotaping needs to be done to produce the training video.

As a convenience to our customers, in 1998, we offered new products to be sold with the Beer Game. These products are the deck of customer order cards and plastic playing chips. Including them makes the game more user friendly and they have been well received. 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. The profit from this "cost center" helps supports the core operations offered by the Society office.

Regarding back issues of the System Dynamics Review: A set of 33 back issues from 1985 to 1997 (Volume 1 - Volume 13) is offered for sale for $725.00, a savings of $325.00 over the individual purchase price. The full time student member price for the Volume 1 - Volume 13 set is $375.00. A minimum number of out-of-print issues have 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. The bibliography has been updated through the end of 1998 and will be available for sale soon. This project is being performed by Jennifer Ferriss, bibliographer and overseen by Deborah Lines Andersen, from the Information Sciences Department at the University at Albany. In addition, William Steinhurst is being consulted for continuity and consistency. Almost 1000 new entries have been made including the 1996, 1997 and 1998 proceedings with system dynamics references if provided; the System Dynamics Review and the relevant bibliographies, as well as other miscellaneous entries. A request for bibliography information will be sent out electronically through our distribution list and the listserve to help keep the bibliography updated. The bibliography is a continuous work in progress.

Society Sponsorship

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 systematic Society sponsorship program was started in November 1998 for 1999 sponsorship. We contacted all past Society sponsors and conference sponsors, inviting them to continue their support in 1999. In addition, we identified and mailed out letters to repeat customers, to organizations with numerous members and to other consulting firms owned by members. This mailout is not only to solicit, but to also cultivate a relationship, to involve our members and others in the field. To date in 1999 we have three new Society sponsors. All our existing sponsors have either sent in their gift or made a verbal commitment.

Society Finances

Although the proposed 1998 budget projected a loss, we are showing a profit. The Society is managed around three cost centers. Combining all three shows a net profit. The cost centers are Conference, Core Operations and Sales. The core operations cost center is running in the negative, being subsidized by the sales and conference cost centers. Sales are up and these profits are subsidizing the office as a whole. Please refer to the full statement shown in David Andersen's VP Finance Report.

Due to customer demand and conference involvement by the Society office, the Society now accepts credit card payments. This eliminates significant purchase barriers, especially for international customers. Our "break even" point is approximately $1200 per month. For credit card costs, please refer to the Financial Reports.

Credit card sales (including conference registrations) for 1998 have been:


December 1998: $3,744.


November 1998: $4,038.


October 1998: $6,006.


September 1998: $4,049.


August 1998: $3,753.


July 1998: $35,104.


June 1998: $24,719.


May 1998: $11,832.


April 1998: $15,678.


March 1998: $8,465.


February 1998: $2,664.


January 1998: $4,904.

Management of Conference

Per vote of the Policy Council, the Society has undertaken a shared responsibility in the planning and management of our conferences.

For the 1999 conference, the Society office is working with Bob Cavana and Jac Vennix. The call for papers brochure was mailed from the Society office, advertisements in related journals have been posted and conference sponsors are being contacted. The conference information brochure will be mailed out at the beginning of March from the Society office. Our office will handle the registrations as we did for the Quebéc conference. The conference finances will be maintained on our QuickBooks program.

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.

Support to Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters

A proposal has been submitted for a UK Chapter.

Current Allocation of Effort

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. Breakdown of time for Roberta, working at 75%:


Core Operations: 41%


Sales: 28%


Quebéc Conference: 27%


New Zealand Conference: 4%

With the addition of Jennifer Rowe as Assistant to the Director, I am starting to find time for the new initiatives. Jen is doing an excellent job. Jen is currently working one-half time and is willing to move up to 60%. Breakdown of time for Jen:


Core Operations: 41%


Sales: 35%


Quebéc Conference: 22%


New Zealand Conference: 2%

Attachment I

Routine Operations - Other Processes

(Not Tied to Administrative Calendar or Research Conference)


Update Society information vehicles, including brochure and website


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/ member services


Membership maintenance and recruitment


Reconcile Membership Issues/Discrepancies with John Wiley & Sons


Manage Certification of Chapters and Special Interest Groups


Records Retention and Preservation




Maintain Checking Account


Society Sponsorship Solicitation


Attachment II

System Dynamics Society Membership

(According to Membership Directories)

Membership over time:



1998 - 808


1997 - 680


1996 - 572


1995 - 504


1994 - 484


1993 - 487


1992 - 406


1991 - 418

Geographic Distribution for 1996, 1997 and 1998 - 49 Countries Including:

Country 1996 1997 1998
Argentina 4 4 6
Australia 17 15 21
Austria 1 1 1
Bangladesh 1 1 1
Belgium 1 1 2
Brazil 2 5 7
Canada 15 23 24
Chile 0 2 2
China 6 3 4
Columbia 4 4 5
Cote d'Ivoire 0 0 1
Croatia 1 1 2
Denmark 4 4 3
Finland 2 2 2
France 4 5 6
Germany 14 21 23
Greece 2 3 4
Iceland 0 0 1
India 2 2 1
Indonesia 4 6 7
Iran 0 1 1
Ireland 0 0 1
Israel 2 1 1
Italy 17 23 28
Japan 31 33 32
Korea 4 8 7
Malaysia 0 6 7
Mexico 3 2 4
New Zealand 4 5 5
Nigeria 1 1 1
Norway 9 16 22
Peru 1 1 0
Philippines 1 1 3
Poland 3 4 3
Portugal 3 2 4
Russia 0 1 2
Saudi Arabia 0 1 1
Singapore 2 1 1
South Africa 2 1 1
Spain 21 24 22
Sweden 6 8 9
Switzerland 15 16 17
Taiwan 4 6 7
Thailand 2 1 2
The Netherlands 12 18 21
Turkey 1 7 6
UK 44 65 89
USA 297 323 386
Venezuela 2 1 1
Vietnam 1 0 1
Totals 572 680 808


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 and Special Interest Groups


    Manage Site Arrangements




    Receiving Fees


    Special Events


  4. Develop Electronic Presence

Developments (1998)

Continuously being developed in the home office.

Contacts made for sponsorship, conference - more time needs to be invested here to inform these organizations of how we can help them network, and to cultivate relationships. Chapters may need more support at start up or with membership drives.

Conference involvement is becoming more defined and reactions by future hosts have been welcoming. Management at Quebéc of notices, call for papers, registration brochures, and finances worked very well. Involvement in the New Zealand conference is a little different this year as their original proposal did not include assistance from the home office.

Development of electronic presence to date has been by volunteers at the University at Albany. In 1999 it will be taken over by Worcester Polytechnic Institute.