Systems Thinking resources

Welcome to the Systems Thinking resources page. This is a rich source of helpful material including books, papers, presentations, videos, webinars, and social media – all related to Systems Thinking.

"Systems Thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, or 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 Joint Working Group on SE/PM Integration was set up in 2013 between the APM and INCOSE UK. The JWG originally set out to foster and encourage the overlapping relationships between the disciplines of P3M and Systems Engineering (SE), drawing on industrial and academic expertise from across the two professional bodies with the aim of promoting systems thinking as a methodology to improve delivery of complex change initiatives.

As a recommendation from the Joint Working Group, the Systems Thinking SIG was set up in December 2016.  It continues the relationship between APM and INCOSE UK, but encompasses the spectrum of Systems Thinking application to all aspects of P3M. As a result, this page includes both the outputs from the Joint Working Group as well as now the resources developed by the Systems Thinking SIG.

Research

Systems Thinking research report: How it is used in project management.

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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 with the express aim of:

  • 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.

Presentations

Our work has been presented at various conferences (either directly or indirectly) – these give a good summary of the past work of the JWG and now of the Systems Thinking SIG:

  • “From good to great” APM Annual Conference 2015 (Presentation)
  • “Valuing our place in the world: Using SE in P3M” INCOSE UK Annual Systems Engineering Conference 2015 (Paper | Presentation)
  • “Foundations for improved integration” INCOSE International Symposium 2017 (Paper)

For further information on the JWG, read APM Volunteer research on Systems Thinking in P3M

Publications

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.

Coming soon:
  • Case studies looking at SE and PM integration 

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.

Coming soon:
  • Portfolio and programme architecture
  • Verification and validation in benefits realisation
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