Executive Director's Report

Policy Council Meeting

July 1999

Wellington, New Zealand


Roberta L. Spencer

Home Office

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

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 (see Attachment IV). Items listed below have been completed, are in the works or are planned for the future. With the guidance of the Administration 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 2200 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.

As of June 30, 1999, a total of 34 new or renewal members have joined the Society as a result of the Society Sponsorship incentive. A sponsor receives up to three personal memberships with a sponsorship.

After the New Zealand conference, a personal invitation to become a member of the Society will be sent to conference attendees who are not members. In addition, in the fall of 1999 we will send out letters to members who did not renew for 1999. A full analysis of membership for 1999 will be done at the end of the year.

Since June 1998, we have sent out 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. John Wiley & Sons continues to be very helpful and responsive.

In 1999 the Society office will produce the membership directory. A request for correct/updated information will be mailed to members and the directory database will be maintained at the home office.

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 server at WPI is in place, the addresses on the domain name are being transfered to the WPI site. Additional information under consideration to be contained on the new website include the membership directory, the bibliography and more links. Access to some areas, such as the directory, will be limited to current members with passwords. The current site 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, with a link to the Victoria University at Wellington. After the New Zealand Conference, the Norway Conference information will be placed on our website.

Website "hits" history:

July: 920
August: 863
September: 835
October: 775
November: 812
December: 669

January: 1,004
February: 1,000
March: 1,114
April: 1,032
May: 1,230
June: 1,169

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, but sales are down by 24% from last year at this time. There is less demand for the Proceedings and back issues of the System Dynamics Review, but in this category sales are up 20% from the same time last year. Orders filled (including bibliographies) for the first six months of 1999 totaled 382.
330 Beer Game orders
22 Past Proceedings
21 Past System Dynamics Reviews
9 Bibliographies

1998 total orders filled: 560

1997 total orders filled: 271

Regarding the Beer Game: Sale of the Beer Game continues to be strong, but declining. According to input from a range of clients from large corporations to small consulting firms, there seems to be a strong need for an instruction 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. In addition, 1999 we are including color coordinated order slips and pencils. 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. 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 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 Administration Committee.


Bibliography disks continue to be available. The bibliography has been updated including the System Dynamics Review Volume 15, Number 1 - 1999. 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. Over 1,200 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 was sent out electronically through our distribution list, the listserve, and with the President's Newsletter to help keep the bibliography updated. As a result of this request, 17 members responded. The total number of references currently on the bibliography database is 5367. The bibliography is a continuous work in process.

Society Sponsorship

In an effort to increase membership, corporate sponsors receive up to three free annual (personal) memberships. We have had success with this new arrangement.
1999 Sponsorship income to the Society: $12, 738
1998 Sponsorship income to the Society $11,000
1997 Sponsorship income to the Society $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 mail-out is not only to solicit, but to also cultivate a relationship, to involve our members and others in the field. We will continue this program for Society sponsors in the year 2000.

Society Finances

The proposed 1999 budget projects a loss, we are showing a slight loss at the half year mark. The Society is managed around three cost centers. 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. 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 accepts credit card payments. This eliminates significant purchase barriers, especially for international customers. Our "break even" point is approximately $1,200 per month. Credit card sales (including conference registrations) for have been:

December: $3,744.
November: $4,038.
October: $6,006.
September: $4,049.
August: $3,753.
July: $35,104.
June: $24,719.
May: $11,832.
April: $15,678.
March: $8,465.
February: $2,664
January: $4,904

June: $23,026.
May: $10,646.
April: $4,780.
March: $4,361.
February: $2,689
January: $3,796

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 New Zealand Conference, the Society office is working with Bob Cavana and Jac Vennix. The call for papers and registration brochures were mailed from the Society office, advertisements in related journals were posted and conference sponsors contacted. The home office will handle the registrations for conference attendees from all locations except the Australia/New Zealand area. The conference finances will be maintained on our QuickBooks program.

For the 2000 Norway Conference, the Society office is working with Pål Davidsen, David Ford and Ali Mashayekhi. Planning is already underway for a wonderful conference in Bergen. The dates are August 6 - 10, 2000.

Administrative Calendar

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. There has been progress on the Administrative Calender. As always, I appreciate input.

Support to Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters

The Society is very pleased to have a new chapter in the U.K. There is also a proposal by Australasia for chapter formation. There has been much interest by a number of countries and special interest groups. For more information on chapters and special interest groups, please contact Nan Lux, VP Member and Chapter Activities, or the Society office.

Current Allocation of Effort

Daily time sheets are recorded as time is separated into three cost centers at the System Dynamics Society. Breakdown of time for Roberta Spencer, working at 75%, Jennifer Rowe working at 50% totaling 1.25 staff persons:

Roberta Spencer 1998 1999
Core Operations 41% 50%
Sales 28% 17%
Current Conference 27% 31%
Next Conference 4% 2%
Jen Rowe    
Core Operations 41% 54%
Sales 35% 31%
Current Conference 22% 15%
Next Conference 2% 0%


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


Archive System


Maintain Checking Account


Society Sponsorship Solicitation

Attachment II

System Dynamics Society Membership

(according to membership directories)

Membership over time:
June 30, 1999 - 655
June 30, 1998 - 600

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
President's Newsletter
Manage Nominations and Elections Procedures (October/November)
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

Produce membership directory and maintain up-to-date information on all members

Developments: All members are currently in our database

Next Steps (1999): Contact members for correct information, produce and distribute the directory to our membership


Assist VP - Member and Chapter Activities to Make Contacts and Support Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters

Systems Thinking

Developments: 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.

Next Steps (1999): Perform Routinely


Link to Annual Research Conference: Define Executive Directors Role for conferences

Developments: Conference involvement is becoming more defined and reactions by future hosts have been welcoming. Management by home office of notices, call for papers, registration brochures, and finances works very well.

Next Steps (1999): Perform Routinely


Develop Electronic Presence

Developments: 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.

Next Steps (1999): Perform Routinely