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Systems thinking readings + resources

Want to dig deeper into the world of systems thinking and change? We've put together this list of resources that have inspired and informed our work.

The fundamentals of systems thinking + systems practice 


Thinking in Systems:

A Primer

Donella H. Meadows

This foundational text details fundamental tools, methods, and mindsets of understanding and applying systems thinking and systems dynamics to local and global issues.


The Checklist Manifest0

Atul Gawande

As the world – and our role in it – become increasingly complex, a simple checklist can help us navigate and understand how to grapple with it.


The 6 Fundamental Concepts of Systems Thinking

Leyla Acaroglu

A brief, engaging introduction to the core concepts of seeing through a systems lens, from interconnectedness to emergence to mapping.


Emergent Strategy

adrienne maree brown

A necessary, practical, and inspirational text on how we as individuals can continuously grow, learn, and transform our systems through emergent processes.

How to build + sustain systems change

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Systems Thinking for

Social Change

David Peter Stroh​

The key techniques and mindsets to applying systems thinking as a means to sustainably address complex social problems.


Systems Practice Workbook 

The Omidyar Group

A step-by-step workbook for groups and organizations wanting to apply a systems practice, from setting goals to identifying and executing change, to a topic or issue they’re working on.

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The Social Labs Revolution: A new approach to solving our most complex challenges

Zaid Hassan

How to bring together key stakeholders to collaborate and address our world’s most challenging problems.

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Systems Change: A guide to what it is and how to do it

Rob Abercrombie, Ellen Harries, and Rachel Wharton

The key concepts of changing systems and what roles we each play in the process.

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Re:imagining change

Patrick Reinsborough and Doyle Canning, The Center for  Story-Based Strategy 

A handbook for understanding dominant narratives that drive inequity and how media can play a role in shifting them.

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Making Peace Last: A Toolbox for Sustainable Peacebuilding

Rob Ricigliano

Practical learnings and applications of systems thinking to local and global conflicts.

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Using Story to Change Systems

Ella Saltmarshe

A look at the power of storytelling to understand and shift the most complex issues of our time. 

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Transformative Scenario Planning

Adam Kahane

A guide to taking a forward-looking, imaginative approach to creating transformative stories about the future of complex systems.


Ideas - Arrangements - Effects 

Design Studio for Social Intervention

A critical explainer of how our individual and collective ideas shape social systems, and what we can do to transform them.

Systems thinking for organizational strategy

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The Fifth Discipline​

Peter M. Senge

How to consider your organization as a system and seek ongoing transformation, learning, and growth.

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The Essentials of Theory U

C. Otto Scharmer

Shifting how you see yourself and your organization within complex systems and how to transform toward internal and external systems change.

Additional tools for developing your systems practice



An online app for mapping complex systems and networks.


Loopy (v1.1)

Nicky Case

A playful, customizable way of visualizing feedback loops.

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