Our Top 5 Systems Thinking books for 2024
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Our Top 5 Systems Thinking books for 2024

Systems thinking

Systems thinking offers a way of making sense of complexity, understanding how systems work and how to make change within them. If you want to grasp how to use this methodology and use it in your work, the team at Design Thinkers Academy London have compiled a list of 5 systems thinking books to read in 2024.

These books are perfect for beginners, and have been selected to make learning about systems thinking as enjoyable and accessible as possible. So, grab a comfy seat, and start exploring, and unlocking the mysteries of complex systems.

1. Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows & Diana Wright (2009)

This book is a great introduction to using System Dynamics in the real world. Donella Meadows was a leading figure in systems thinking and her engaging writing style makes complex systems and theories easy to understand. She also provides many examples of different types of systems which help with seeing the underlying mechanics of the systems around us.     

2.The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation by Peter Senge (2006)

This book is heavily focused on how to build and maintain learning organisations, but it also provides a brilliant overview of systems thinking with concrete examples. It opens with a description of The Beer Game, which provides a clear and engaging insight into how easily systems can malfunction, with ideas and practical methods for dealing with the faults and counter-intuitive behaviours. 

3. Systems 1: An Introduction to Systems Thinking by Draper Kauffman and Morgan Kauffman (2021)

This short, accessible introduction to systems thinking covers some of the basics and offers some useful insights into the behaviour of systems. 

4. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice: Includes a 30-Year Retrospective by Peter Checkland (1999)

This is the book which covers Soft Systems Methodology, including a good introduction to the history of its development to show how it originated from attempts to apply Hard Systems ideas to organisational contexts. Link:

5. Systems Thinking for Social Change by David Peter Stroh (2015)

This book provides a compelling narrative on the importance of systems thinking when setting out to drive change in complex programme, be that across public services, economy, conflict resolution and much more.