Top 15 Systems Thinking Books

I know. I have not been very kind to systems thinking in my recent “Complexity vs. Lean” presentation. But most systems thinkers are nice and smart people, and so I will try and make up with this Top 15 of Systems Thinking Books.

I created this list by finding suggestions on Systems Thinking groups (here, here and here), and some intensive searches on Amazon. The results are ranked by a combination of rating and popularity, both on Amazon and GoodReads. (For example, Peter M. Senge’s book is the most popular, but Donella Meadows book has better ratings both on Amazon and on GoodReads, which is why her book won the top slot.)

Oh, and in case you’re wondering. I only read three of the books in this list. But I just added three more to my shopping cart. 🙂


1 Donella Meadows Thinking in Systems: A Primer
2 Peter M. Senge The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization
3 Gerald M. Weinberg An Introduction to General Systems Thinking
4 Michael C. Jackson Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers
5 Russell L. Ackoff Re-Creating the Corporation: A Design of Organizations for the 21st Century
6 Ervin Laszlo The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time
7 Linda B. Sweeney,
Dennis Meadows
The Systems Thinking Playbook: Exercises to Stretch and Build Learning and Systems Thinking Capabilities
8 Jamshid Gharajedaghi Systems Thinking, Second Edition: Managing Chaos and Complexity: A Platform for Designing Business Architecture
9 Dennis Sherwood Seeing the Forest for the Trees: A Manager’s Guide to Applying Systems Thinking
10 John D. Sterman Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World
11 Russell L. Ackoff,
Herbert J. Addison
Systems Thinking for Curious Managers: With 40 New Management f-Laws
12 Peter Checkland Systems Thinking, Systems Practice: Includes a 30-Year Retrospective
13 Stephen G. Haines The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Systems Thinking and Learning
14 Joy Richmond,
Lees Stuntz,
Kathy Richmond,
Joanne Egner
Tracing Connections: Voices of Systems Thinkers
15 John Boardman,
Brian Sauser
Systems Thinking: Coping with 21st Century Problems
And I’m tossing in two extra books that aren’t really about Systems Thinking, but they seem to be mentioned regularly among systems thinkers…
John Gall The Systems Bible: The Beginner’s Guide to Systems Large and Small
Lars Skyttner General Systems Theory

Jurgen is an experienced authortrainer, and speaker. Why don’t you hire him to add some spice to your company event or seminar?

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