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APM Systems Thinking Specific Interest Group


Specific Interest Groups (SIGs) discuss particular aspects of project management to further understanding and good practice.

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About this SIG

Systems thinking Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing inter-relationships rather than things, for seeing patterns rather than static ‘snapshots’. Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the ‘structures’ that underlie complex situations. 

Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation

The SIG has emerged from a Joint Working Group (JWG), established in 2013 between APM and the UK Chapter of the International Council for Systems Engineering (INCOSE UK).

The JWG set out to foster and encourage better integration between project management and systems engineering, drawing on industrial and academic expertise from across the two professional bodies.

The Systems Thinking SIG will continue the strong relationship with INCOSE UK, supporting (and supported by) members of both communities.


The Systems Thinking SIG is a natural development of the JWG whose aim is now:

“To promote systems thinking as a methodology to improve delivery of complex change initiatives“

  • develop the Project Management BoK for Systems Thinking with particular
    emphasis on good practice and guidance to enable P3M and Systems Engineering
    to work efficiently and effectively in the delivery of complex projects;
  • introduce systems thinking as a recognised competency for project managers;
  • promote systems thinking as a methodology in a broad range of change initiatives and help organisations deliver more effective outcomes with fewer resources;
  • provide an active forum for the community of project management and systems thinking professionals to debate and share experiences, ideas, tools and techniques.

The SIG has a strong agenda in continuing the development of both guidance material and deeper research in line with its aim, and in reaching out across the other SIGs and the wider APM membership to help foster the links and relationships that lie at the heart of systems thinking.

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SIG member volunteers

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Featured resources

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Systems Thinking: How is it used in projects and project management?

Systems thinking is not a new technique for project management, but neither its application, nor understanding of its benefits, is widespread. Interviews and two surveys have been conducted to explore the use of systems thinking in project management. 

What is systems thinking?

Systems thinking is an approach to problem solving which takes into account the overall system as well as its individual parts aims to:

  • capturing the right requirements, ensuring a system addresses the right problem and the right need, considering all stakeholder requirements;
  • understanding the hierarchy and boundary of a system;
  • building in system resilience, robustness and flexibility;
  • understanding emergent behaviours and properties of a system both positive and negative;
  • avoiding development of unintended consequences;
  • defining, understanding and managing the interdependencies of the whole system and across its boundaries;
  • help understanding of complicated, complex and chaotic problems.

Integration of Systems Engineering and Project Management (Joint Working Group Reports)

The members of the JWG have generated a range of reports and guidance as a result of their work aimed at both the P3M and Systems Engineering communities looking at key areas and issues around the overlaps, integration and tensions between the two disciplines.

SE/PM Fusion Guidance

In addition to our main publications, the ST SIG has also developed some short guidance on key SE / PM “fusion areas” – points at which the SE and P3M disciplines overlap and where greater understanding will provide value and benefits.

News by this SIG

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Driving projects "looking through the windscreen": multi SIG conference 2022
APM Systems Thinking SIG 500Px Outlined
APM Systems Thinking SIG committee results for 2022-2023

Blogs by this SIG

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What will make delivering quality easier, boosting project success?
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Agile approaches and achieving project quality
Ship With Supply
Managing quality in the project supply chain
Construction Workers Checking Boards
Planning for quality is planning for success
Question Marks
When does quality need to be managed?
Missing Puzzle Piece Of Big Picture
How systems thinking helps us understand the COVID-19 pandemic

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