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Listing all articles in Systems-Thinking Resources under the category 'Systems Thinking' :


Book : Soft Systems Methodology in Action (1990)

Soft Systems Methodology in Action

Publisher:John Wiley & Sons

Author(s): Checkland, Peter • Scholes, Jim

Published: 1990 ISBN: 0471927686 • 346 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


Soft Systems Methodology was developed in the 1970s. It grew out of the failure of established methods of “systems engineering” (SE) when faced with messy complex problem situations. SE is concerned with creating systems to meet defined objectives, and it works well in those situations in which there is such general agreement on the objectives to be achieved that the problem can be thought of simply as the selection of efficacious and efficient means to achieve them.

SSM was developed expressly to cope with the more normal situation in which the people in a problem situation perceive and interpret the world in their own ways and make judgements about it using standards and values which may not be shared by others. Deciding how a company should make use of information technology, launching a new product, choosing a career, running a sports club, setting about improving care of the elderly in a District of the National Health Service are all problems of the latter type, for which SSM is appropriate.

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Book : Systems Archetype Basics: From Story To Structure (2007)

Systems Archetype Basics: From Story To Structure

Categories: BusinessGeneral SystemsSystems Thinking

Tags: andersonbookkimmanagementorganisationpegasus

Publisher:Pegasus Communications Inc.

Author(s): Anderson, Virginia • Kim, Daniel H.

Published: 2007 ISBN: 1883823048 • 208 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


From the publisher:

Does your organization make the same mistakes over and over again, without being able to get a grip on the cause? If so, a systems archetype might be at work behind the scenes! The archetypes depict the recurring “stories” that often indicate imbalance in a system.

Working with these tools can help individuals and teams surface their mental models, communicate the “story,” and engage in creative dialogue about the entire system.

Written by top authors in the field, this workbook brings you the latest thinking about the archetypes—and provides plenty of practice using them.

Familiarize yourself with eight classic archetypes, such as Fixes That Fail and Limits to Success, by working step-by-step through vivid examples, illustrations, and exercises. Additional activities, potential responses, a handy “archetypes at a glance” chart, and a glossary of terms complete your learning experience.

Ideal for self-study or group practice, Systems Archetype Basics will give you the confidence and skill to start putting your knowledge to work.

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Book : Systems Engineering (1992)

Systems Engineering

Categories: BusinessSystems EngineeringSystems Thinking

Tags: bookbusinesslifecyclemanagementsagewiley

Publisher:John Wiley & Sons

Author(s): Sage, Andrew P.

Published: 1992 ISBN: 0471536393 • 654 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Hardback


From the publisher:

'Systems Engineering' focuses on systems methodology, design, and management.  The contents offer technical insight for professionals concerned with systems engineering and management and to students who need to master the steps to effective systems engineering. Throughout, the book emphasizes the process of systems engineering rather than the product of systems engineering, recognizing that proper attention to processes almost inevitably leads to higher quality products.

'Systems Engineering' addresses the fundamental considerations associated with the engineering of large scale systems. Divided into two sections, the first part deals with systems methodology, design and management including a detailed examination of operational and task level system quality assurance through configuration management, audits and reviews, standards and systems integration. The second part discusses a variety of systems design and management approaches, particularly those concerned with system effectiveness evaluation and the human role in systems.

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Book : Systems Engineering: An Approach to Information-Based Design (1996)

Systems Engineering: An Approach to Information-Based Design

Publisher:Prentice Hall

Author(s): Hazelrigg, George A.

Published: 1996 ISBN: 0134613449 • 469 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


A tentative theory and framework for systems engineering, which accounts for all phases in the life cycle of a product or service such that rational choices can be make concerning design options even when uncertainty and risk are high. Proposes a definition for the emerging field.

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Book : Systems One : An Introduction to Systems Thinking (1980)

Systems One : An Introduction to Systems Thinking

Publisher:Future Systems Inc

Author(s): Kauffman, Draper L.

Published: 1980 ISBN: 9996280519 • Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


Draper Kauffman, in ‘Systems 1: An Introduction to Systems Thinking’ provides a list of 10 characteristics of, and 22 rules of thumb for the operation of complex systems. Complex System Characteristics

  • Self-Stabilizing
  • Goal-Seeking
  • Program-following
  • Self-Reprogramming
  • Anticipation
  • Environment Modifying
  • Self-Replicating
  • Self-Maintaining and Repairing
  • Self-Reorganizing
  • Self-Programming

Complex System Rules of Thumb

  • Everything is connected to everything else
  • You can never do just one thing
  • There is no “away.”
  • There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch
  • Nature knows best
  • If ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it’s what you DO know that ain’t so
  • “Obvious solutions” do more harm than good
  • Look for high leverage points
  • Nothing grows forever
  • Don’t fight positive feedback; support negative feedback instead
  • Don’t try to control the players, just change the rules
  • Don’t make rules that can’t be enforced
  • There are no simple solutions
  • Good intentions are not enough
  • High morality depends on accurate prophecy
  • If you can’t make people self-sufficient, your aid does more harm than good
  • There are no final answers
  • Every solution creates new problems
  • Loose systems are often better
  • Don’t be fooled by system cycles
  • Remember the Golden Mean
  • Beware the empty compromise
  • Don’t be a boiled frog
  • Watch our for thresholds
  • Competition is often cooperation in disguise
  • Bad boundaries make bad governments
  • Beware the Tragedy of the Commons
  • Foresight always wins in the long run.

This brief primer on ecological and societal systems was to have been the first in a series on systems thinking, but the rest of the series never materialized. Its easy vocabulary, creative cartoons, and use of white space make it a non-threatening place to begin learning about systems.

Book : Systems Thinking : Managing Chaos and Complexity (1999)

Systems Thinking : Managing Chaos and Complexity

Publisher:Butterworth - Heinemann

Author(s): Gharajedaghi, Jamshid

Published: 1999 ISBN: 0750671637 • 328 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


From the publisher:

In a nutshell, this book is about systems. This book is written for those thinkers and practitioners who have come to realize that while the whole is becoming more and more interdependent parts display choice and behave independently, and that paradoxes are the most potent challenge of emergent realities.

With a practical orientation and yet a profound theoretical depth, the book offers an operational handle on the whole by introducing an elaborate scheme called iterative design. The iterative design explicitly recognizes that choice is at the heart of human development. Development is the capacity to choose; design is a vehicle for enhancement of choice and holistic thinking. ‘Designers’, in this book, seek to choose rather than predict the future. They try to understand rational, emotional, and cultural dimensions of choice and to produce a design that satisfies a multitude of functions. They learn how to use what they already know and also about how to learn what they need to know.

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Book : Systems Thinking and Modelling: Understanding Change and Complexity (2007)

Systems Thinking and Modelling: Understanding Change and Complexity

Publisher:Pearson Higher Education

Author(s): Cavana, Robert • Maani, Kambiz

Published: 2007 ISBN: 1877371033 • 288 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


Systems Thinking, System Dynamics offers readers a comprehensive introduction to the growing field of systems thinking and dynamic modelling and its applications. The book provides a self-contained and unique blend of qualitative and quantitative tools, step-by-step methodology, numerous examples and mini-cases, as well as extensive real-life case studies. The content mix and presentation style make the otherwise technical tools of systems thinking and system dynamics accessible to a wide range of people.

This book is intended as a text for students in diverse disciplines including business and management, as well as the social, environmental, health and applied sciences. It also has particular relevance for professionals from all backgrounds interested in understanding the dynamic behaviour of complex systems, change management, complex decision making, group problem solving and organisational learning.

Systems thinking and system dynamics provide a scientific paradigm, a set of tools and computer technology which can help explain the forces and dynamics that underlie change and complexity in business, political, social, economic and environmental systems.

Using systems thinking and system dynamics makes it possible to:

  • examine and foresee the consequences of policy and strategic decisions
  • implement fundamental solutions to chronic problems
  • avoid mistakenly interpreting symptoms as causes
  • test assumptions, hypotheses and scenarios
  • boost staff morale and improve productivity
  • improve the stability and performance of supply chains
  • find long-term sustainable solutions and avoid ‘fire-fighting’ behaviour.

The world grows more and more interconnected every day, and yet our institutions of commerce, education, health care, and government, by and large, remain firmly wedded to the reductionistic worldview of the Industrial Age. While more and more leaders in institutions of all sorts realise the importance of systems thinking, few have progressed far in practical application, often daunted by what seems like a steep technical learning curve. This is unfortunate, because it leads to either complete neglect or relegating the tools to technical experts, and fails the urgent need for re-thinking critical issues that must engage us all.

If you believe as I do that enhanced systems intelligence is the mandate for living together in our shrinking world, you will be delighted by Kambiz Maani’s and Bob Cavana’s new book, which takes a big step toward clarifying the underlying philosophy and demystifying the system dynamics method that has long been the core of our work.

Peter M. Senge, Society for Organizational Learning, MIT -Boston

New to this Edition

The slight change in the title from Systems Thinking and Modelling – Understanding Change and Complexity to Systems Thinking, System Dynamics – Managing Change and Complexity reflects two things:

  • (a) the field ‘System Dynamics’ has been brought directly into the title to reflect the flow in ideas and concepts from systems thinking to system dynamics; and
  • (b) the shift from understanding to managing conveys a shift of emphasis towards practice and a broader vision of not only understanding the dynamics of change and complexity, but also to provide tools and support to manage change and complexity.

Two new cases studies related to complex global and business issues and challenges, such as the bird flu pandemics and sustainable fishing practices, have been included.

An update and modernising of one case based on the dynamics of a hypothetical beer distribution system to reflect the rapidly growing field of supply chain management and modelling. Further background on the history and development of systems thinking and system dynamics.

Enhancements to the problem structuring phase of the five-phase systems thinking and modelling methodology based on system dynamics outlined in the book.

Additional technical material to assist readers to better understand the dynamic modelling process.

Further improvements to applications of systems thinking in organisations and an additional learning laboratory, the Brand Management Microworld, in Chapter 6, to aid in managerial learning of systemic and dynamic behaviour of complex systems undergoing change in uncertain environments.


This revised edition includes additional material on theory as well as several new cases.  The book comes with a CD-ROM that includes the simulation models presented in the book as well as the installation package for a save-disabled version of the iThink software and the installation program for Vensim PLE (Personal Learning Edition).

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Book : Systems Thinking Basics : From Concepts to Causal Loops (1997)

Systems Thinking Basics : From Concepts to Causal Loops

Categories: Systems Thinking

Tags: andersonbookcausal loopsystems thinkingtechniquetool

Publisher:Pegasus Communications Inc.

Author(s): Anderson, Virginia

Published: 1997 ISBN: 1883823129 • 144 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


From the publisher:

Systems Thinking Basics is a self-study, skill-building resource designed to introduce you to the power of systems thinking tools. With an emphasis on behavior over time graphs and causal loop diagrams, this workbook guides you step by step through:

  • Recognizing systems and understanding the importance of systems thinking
  • Interpreting and creating behavior over time graphs and causal loop diagrams
  • Applying and practicing systems thinking day-to-day

Each of the book’s six main sections contains a wealth of examples from the business world, as well as learning activities that reinforce concepts and provide you with the opportunity and space to practice. An array of appendices offers:

  • Extra practice activities
  • A summary of key points and suggested responses to the learning activities
  • A table showing the “palette” of systems thinking tools available
  • A glossary of systems thinking terms
  • A list of additional resources
  • A summary of the systems archetypes

The many diagrams within the book clarify concepts and visually reinforce key principles. Systems Thinking Basics is ideal for aspiring systems thinkers eager to try their hand at using these powerful tools.

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Book : Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The Failure of the Reform Regime…. (2008)

Systems Thinking in the Public Sector: The Failure of the Reform Regime….

Publisher:Triarchy Press

Author(s): Seddon, John

Published: 2008 ISBN: 0955008182 • 228 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Paperback


From the publisher:

The free market has become the accepted model for the public sector. Politicians on all sides compete to spread the gospel. And so, in the UK and elsewhere, there’s been massive investment in public sector ‘improvement’, ‘customer choice’ has been increased and new targets have been set and refined.

But our experience is that things haven’t changed much. This is because governments have invested in the wrong things. Belief in targets, incentives and inspection; belief in economies of scale and shared back-office services; belief in ‘deliverology… these are all wrong-headed ideas and yet they have underpinned this government’s attempts to reform the public sector.

John Seddon here dissects the changes that have been made in a range of services, including housing benefits, social care and policing. His descriptions beggar belief, though they would be funnier if it wasn’t our money that was being wasted.

In place of the current mess, he advocates a Systems Thinking approach where individuals come first, waste is reduced and responsibility replaces blame. It’s an approach that is proven, successful and relatively cheap - and one that governments around the world, and their advisers, need to adopt urgently.

John Seddon trained originally as an occupational psychologist. He is known around the world for his pioneering work on change in organisations and for translating and adapting the Toyota Production System (TPS) for use by service organisations.

John is also known for his consistently informed and controversial criticism of management fads and of much of the theory that has underpinned public sector reform. He is the leading advocate of systems thinking in business and in the public sector.

John is a widely published author and lectures at seminars conferences, universities and management schools around the world. He is Managing Director of Vanguard Ltd, a consultancy specialising in organisational change, and is a visiting professor at the Lean Enterprise Research Centre, University of Cardiff.

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Book : Systems Thinking, Systems Practice (1981)

Systems Thinking, Systems Practice

Publisher:John Wiley & Sons

Author(s): Checkland, Peter

Published: 1981 ISBN: 0471279110 • 344 pages Delivery Format: Hard Copy - Hardback


A classic in the field, this book discusses the interaction between theory and practice of problem-solving methodology. The culmination of a decade of action research aimed at using systems ideas as a help in tackling the ill-structured problems of the real world

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