Executive Director's Report

Policy Council Meeting

29 March 2000

Worcester Polytechnic Institute


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. 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 (Please 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 2,700 records of members, non-members and conference registrants who have contacted this office for products or information. (1998 - 1,500 records) An E-mail distribution list, made up of all E-mail contacts, is also being maintained and updated with every contact.

In 1999 the Society office processed 145 new or renewal memberships for both 1999 and 2000 through this office. (1998 - 41)

Forty-five new or renewal memberships resulted from the Society Sponsorship incentive program. (1998 - 34) With the Society Sponsorship incentive, a sponsor receives up to three personal memberships.

After the New Zealand conference, a personal invitation to become a member of the Society was sent to 210 conference attendees who were not members. This resulted in 16 new members registering through this office. (Others may have contacted Wiley directly.) In addition, in October 1999 we sent out 259 letters to 1998 members who did not renew for 1999. This resulted in 24 renewals at the end of 1999. A survey was also sent to non-renewing members asking the reason. Most who responded said that system dynamics was not longer a part of their work or study.

Since 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 a welcome letter, brochure and a directory. John Wiley & Sons continues to be very helpful and responsive.

1999 membership directory was produced and distributed by the Society office. In the past, the membership directory was done by John Wiley & Sons. A request for updated information was mailed to all 1998 and 1999 members in October 1999. Forty-six percent replied with updated or corrected information. The 1999 directory was distributed in December 1999. We received many compliments this year on the directory. Ms. Jen Rowe was primarily responsible for managing the update of the directory. This is reflected in the increase in her percentage of time spent on core operations in the "Current Allocations of Efforts" chart below.

(Please see Attachment II for more detailed membership information.)

A Society home office website is currently being maintained by a volunteer at the University at Albany. Jack Pugh, the newly appointed webmaster, will begin management of the site shortly, with the assistance of Vedat Diker, Ph.D. candidate at the University at Albany. 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 Norway conference information, including the call for papers, list of abstracts received, abstracts received by country, the registration information, the tentative conference schedule and all conference details available at this time.

Website "Hits" History:

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
July: 1,080
August: 1,160
September: 1,339
October: 1,370
November: 1,273
December: 1,302

February: 2,879
January: 1,652

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

The domain name systemdynamics.org has been reserved.

Beer Distribution Game, Proceedings, Journal, and Bibliography Sales.

There is great interest in the Beer Distribution Game, but sales are down 18% from 1998. There is increased demand for the Proceedings and back issues of the System Dynamics Review, sales are up by 40%. Orders filled (including bibliographies) as of December 31, 1999 totaled 765. (1997 - 271, 1998 - 560) The number of game boards sold in 1999 was 619. (1998 boards - 839)

Regarding the Beer Game: The project to produce a training video is still active, but no action has been taken. 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 we offer "parts" to be sold with the Beer Game. These parts now include the deck of customer order cards, plastic playing chips, color coordinated order slips and pencils. Including them makes the game more user friendly and they have been well received. Retail costs have been modestly raised for the Beer Game in 2000. Postage is paid by the consumer on all Beer Game sales. Although sales are down and will probably continue to slowly decline, I remain 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. Possible new initiative would be to sell the game to resellers and/or to invent a new product to sell.

Back Issues of the System Dynamics Review

Regarding back issues of the System Dynamics Review: A set of 36 back issues from 1985 to 1998 (Volume 1-14) is offered for sale for $750.00, a savings of $410.00. The full-time student price for the Volume 1-14 set is $325.00. A minimum number of out-of-print issues has been photocopied and bound for sale, so now all past issues are available. A gradual reduction in price on old issues has been suggested. If this decision is made, clearance will be sought from the Administration Committee.


Bibliography disks continue to be available. The bibliography has been updated through the end of 1999. This project is now being routinely performed by Jennifer Ferriss, bibliographer. The project was originally overseen by Deborah Lines Andersen, from the Information Sciences Department at the University at Albany. In addition, William Steinhurst was consulted for continuity and consistency. Entries include the conference 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 is printed in each issue of the Review. The bibliography is a continuous work in progress. It currently contains over 5,550 database entries (July 1999: 5,367).

The bibliography information that is currently maintained at the Vensim website will be moved to the Society website in the near future.

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 1999 sponsorship income was $12,738. (1997 - $4,000, 1998 - $11,000)

A systematic Society sponsorship program is on the administrative calendar for September of every year. We contact all past Society sponsors and conference sponsors, inviting them to continue their support in. 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 mailing is not only to solicit, but to also cultivate a relationship, to involve our members and others in the field. To date in 2000 we have five new Society sponsors. A total of eighteen existing or new sponsors have either sent in their gift or made a verbal commitment.

Society Finances

The 1999 amended budget projected a loss of $39,410. We are in fact showing a loss of $22,534. The Society is managed around three cost centers. Combining all three shows a net loss. 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. The total credit card purchases for 1999 were $86,058, and for 1998 were $124,956. For credit card costs, please refer to the Financial Reports. For credit card sales history (including conference registrations) over the past two years, please see Attachment V.

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 worked 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 were being contacted. Our office handled registrations as we did for the Quebec conference. The conference finances were maintained on our QuickBooks program. The New Zealand conference showed a profit of $3,228 for the calendar year of 1999. The net income for the conference was US$40.00.

The 2000 conference in Bergen, Norway is well underway. The program is being developed and sponsors have been contacted. The first registration brochure and contact by e-mail was done in February. Abstracts received were over 330. Sponsorship participation is currently at a minimum of $14,500 with a potential of about another $3000 - $5000. This office became much more involved in the conference planning this year, working with Pål Davidsen, Ali Mashayekhi and David Ford.

The 2001 Atlanta conference palns are progressing nicely. The venue will be the Emory Conference Center. The dates are July 23-27, 2001.

A guide to organizing an International System Dynamics Conference written by Jac A.M. Vennix and Loes H. Builtjes in July 1992 is currently being updated by the Society office. Please see Attachment VI for conference planning schedule.

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. Unfortunately, there has been little progress on the Administrative Calender to date. As always, I appreciate input.

Support to Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters

1999 added the UK and Australasian Chapters. A group of students is still pursuing the creation of a student chapter and have plans to discuss this further in Norway. As requests for information come in, they are forwarded to VP Members/Chapters Nan Lux.

Current Allocation of Effort

Daily time sheets are recorded and 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%
Quebec Conference: 27%
New Zealand Conference: 4%


Core Operations: 46%
Sales: 14%
New Zealand Conference: 28%
Norway Conference: 12%

My time commitment to the Society for 2000 is now at 90%.

Jennifer Rowe, Assistant Director, worked one-half time in 1999 and has moved up to 60% for 2000. Breakdown of time for Jen, working 50%:


Core Operations: 41%
Sales: 35%
Quebec Conference: 22%
New Zealand Conference: 2%


Core Operations: 59%
Sales: 30%
New Zealand Conference: 9%
Norway Conference: 2%

Attachment I

Routine Operations - Other Processes

(Not Tied to Administrative Calendar or Research Conference)


Update Society information vehicles, including brochures, System Dynamics Review


Support website maintenance


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


Respond to general member inquiries/member services


Respond to non-member inquiries


Membership maintenance and recruitment


Reconcile Membership Issues/Discrepancies with John Wiley & Sons


Work with President as needed


Assist President with writing, production and distribution of President's Newsletter


Work with Vice Presidents and Secretary as needed


Archiving/Records Retention and Preservation


Maintain Checking Account


Society Sponsorship Solicitation


Produce Membership Directory

Attachment II

System Dynamics Society Membership

(According to Membership Directories)

Membership over time:

1999 - 995
1998 - 808
1997 - 680
1996 - 572
1995 - 504
1994 - 484
1993 - 487
1992 - 406
1991 - 418

Geographic Distribution for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 - 55 Countries Including:

Country 1996 1997 1998 1999
Argentina 4 4 6 8
Australia 17 15 21 31
Austria 1 1 1 2
Bangladesh 1 1 1 1
Belgium 1 1 2 4
Brazil 2 5 7 8
Canada 15 23 24 33
Chile 0 2 2 2
China 6 3 4 5
Columbia 4 4 5 5
Cote d'Ivoire 0 0 1 1
Croatia 1 1 2 2
Czech Rep 0 0 0 1
Denmark 4 4 3 3
Finland 2 2 2 3
France 4 5 6 8
Germany 14 21 23 34
Greece 2 3 4 5
Hong Kong 0 0 0 2
Iceland 0 0 1 1
India 2 2 1 2
Indonesia 4 6 7 15
Iran 0 1 1 1
Ireland 0 0 1 1
Israel 2 1 1 2
Italy 17 23 28 28
Japan 31 33 32 36
Korea 4 8 7 12
Kuwait 0 0 0 2
Lebanon 0 0 0 1
Malaysia 0 6 7 8
Mexico 3 2 4 6
New Zealand 4 5 5 10
Nigeria 1 1 1 1
Norway 9 16 22 32
Peru 1 1 0 0
Philippines 1 1 3 3
Poland 3 4 3 3
Portugal 3 2 4 5
Russia 0 1 2 2
Saudi Arabia 0 1 1 1
Singapore 2 1 1 3
Slovenia 0 0 0 1
South Africa 2 1 1 1
Spain 21 24 22 26
Sweden 6 8 9 10
Switzerland 15 16 17 18
Taiwan 4 6 7 6
Thailand 2 1 2 2
The Netherlands 12 18 21 24
Turkey 1 7 6 17
UK 44 65 89 104
USA 297 323 386 451
Venezuela 2 1 1 1
Vietnam 1 0 1 1
Totals 572 680 808 995


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 Feb/March and after conference


Manage Nominations and Elections Procedures




Jay W. Forrester Award Selection Procedure


New Awards Such as Best PhD dissertation??


Manage Society Sponsors (mailout in September)


Membership Issues - work with Wiley


Annual Membership Directory


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


Update Bibliography


Executive director's report


Editor's report


Treasurer's report


Member/Chapter's report


Conference report


Notices in journals - for what and when


Update SDR - SDS publications for sale page, officers page, conference information 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)

A. Develop Records and Archive System




Continuously being developed in the home office.


Next Steps


Perform routinely.

B. Make Contacts and Support Special Interest Groups, Sponsors and Chapters


K-12, Consultants, Systems Thinking




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


Perform routinely.

C. Link to Annual Research Conference


Define Executive Directors Role for conferences


Notice of Conference in Research Journals


Manage Mechanics of Conference Program including:


Call for Papers


Proposed Review


Paper Selection Program Design


Contact Sponsors and Special Interest Groups


Manage Site Arrangements




Receiving Fees


Special Events




Conference involvement is becoming more defined and reactions by future hosts have been welcoming.


Next Steps


Perform routinely.

D. Develop Electronic Presence




Development of electronic presence to date at Society home office website has been by volunteers at the University at Albany. Discussions are currently underway for progress on what the Society should do for electronic presence.


Next Steps


Perform Routinely.

E. New Product to Broaden Sales Possibilities Beyond the "Beer Game"






Next Steps



F. Update Conference Guide, Including Policy on Financial Aid for Needy Attendees




Currently underway, existing guide has been reviewed, all past conference correspondence and dates have been gathered.


Next Steps


Revise continuously as each conference progresses

G. "Own" membership process




We currently have all membership information in a database as a result of the membership directory.


Next Steps


Estimate labor, benefits to Society and members

H. Active Job Exchange Message Board




We've received input from a number of sources.


Next Steps


Determine if this is something worthwhile for the Society and its members

I. Upgrade Computers and Furniture in Office.




Purely financial.


Next Steps


The office has been surveyed by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety with recommendations for new chairs and work stations. Get quotes and build into next year's budget.

Attachment V

Income through Credit Card Purchases


December: US$3,744

November: US$4,038

October: US$6,006

September: US$4,049

August: US$3,753

July: US$35,104

June: US$24,719

May: US$11,832

April: US$15,678

March: US$8,465

February: US$2,664

January: US$4,904


Total for 1998: US$124,956.


December: US$2,834

November: US$6,319

October: US$4,646

September: US$4,512

August: US$10,824

July: US$4,620

June: US$22,714

May: US$10,346

April: US$4,700

March: US$8,465

February: US$2,309

January: US$3,769


Total for 1999: US$86,058

Attachment VI

Conference Planning Schedule (Revised 03/03/00)

General Conference Overview

Time Line for 2000 Conference



reserve hotel/banquet/conference site


start to prepare social program


secure a travel agent for the conference


look into airline deals



hand out call for papers/preview sheet


promote next year's conference


have pre-conference meeting - create and sign memorandum of understanding



pre-conference planning meeting on site


call for papers mail out


email distribution of call for papers/list serve


information to publications - call for papers


contact sponsors (vendors), continue process until conference


continue to prepare social program


invite keynote speakers


monitor budget


form abstract review committee


prepare review process and guidelines for abstracts


form review committee for papers


prepare review process and guidelines for papers


close out previous year's conference finances


send JWF Award speech/presentation to Graham for SDR


mail out President's Newsletter #2 with next year's conference information


update website



email distribution of call for papers/list serve - reminder


invite session conveners


notify authors of receipt of their abstract


create author e-mail distribution list


create master abstract spreadsheet with author/reviewer information for program use


review abstracts


prepare guidelines for final paper to be included on the CD


update website with information and abstracts received (published/unpublished sites)


assist program committee with management of abstracts



January 15 deadline for abstracts submissions


assist program committee with management of abstracts


create report of conference status for February Policy Council meeting


talk to President about President's Newsletter


draft 1st registration brochure, produce final copy


get labels for 1st registration brochure from mailing partners


look into customs information for sponsors/vendors (maybe obtain a customs broker)


look into visa information


talk to Usman Ghani and this year's Consultants' Roundtable host


update website



February 1 deadline for tutorials/workshops submissions


produce brochure, ready envelopes and labels


mail out 1st registration brochure - early February to arrive mid - late February


find printer for printed abstracts proceedings after comparing costs


find CD manufacturer after comparing costs


produce President's Newsletter #1 with information about conference


assist program committee with management of abstracts


assist conference chair with schedule


update website



March 1 deadline for abstract acceptances


March 1 deadline to send invitation to submit full paper for plenary


send letters of (non) acceptance with guidelines, reminder of deadlines for final paper


e-mail distribution of 1st registration brochure


bulk mail out to universities of 1st registration brochure


arrange for draft of conference evaluation


mail out President's Newsletter #1


contact exhibitor supplier for exhibitor needs


update website



April 15 deadline for completed papers submission


April 15 deadline for receiving CD materials


check on progress of Forrester Award


plan for planning meeting for next year's conference


send out tentative schedule with PC meetings, editor's meeting, curriculum committee, chapter presidents, next years conference planning meeting


decide on plenary and parallel papers


send out form requesting special AV or other equipment


arrange for on site photocopier


update website

MAY 00


mail out of 2nd registration brochure


produce next year's preview sheet/call for papers


e-mail distribution of 2nd registration brochure, travel information and instructions


track coffee/tea/lunch/dinner/other reservations and activities


produce next year's preview sheet/call for papers


send out letter of acceptances of paper for plenary/parallel session presentation


order satchels, folders, pens, pads of paper, etc.


update website



electronic CD papers and artwork to CD maker (assign ISBN)


produce printed abstracts (assign ISBN)


create email distribution list of registrants


schedule registration desk helpers


send out hotel reminder


order award winner plaque


delivery of CD for approval


updated conference schedule mailout with new information


check authors to registrants


check registrants who claim to be members


buy supplies for badges, etc.


update website



e-mail/fax of newest information


delivery of CDs and printed abstracts


produce preliminary participant list for folder


produce participant list for updating at conference


produce registration check in lists


produce on-site registration form


make badges


make sign posts


stuff satchels/folders on site and stuff registration envelopes


distribute next year's preview sheet/call for papers


update website for current and make new website for next year

Other Notes

Conference Issues for Consideration and Improvement


computer equipment and presentation equipment


credit card capability at conference


on-site registration forms


free registrations to sponsors


dress code information


weather information


tipping customs


local - day pass newspaper ad


news story


day passes


conference banquet in one room


overheads only with specific standardized format



registrants without e-mail (need to fax late information)


student status clarification


waivers and discounts for students and low income


grants/funding in addition to waivers


lame duck last day


ensure placement of award presentation (middle day of conference)




move up fee discount date


make late registration fee more


include title line (Mr./Ms/Dr./Professor)


include full address


print off should be one complete page - ours was 2 when printed off


unreadable hand written forms


include title of paper for coordination


include proof of full time student status


hotel cut-off date later