© 2010

Systems Approaches to Managing Change: A Practical Guide

  • Martin Reynolds
  • Sue Holwell

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Martin Reynolds, Sue Holwell
    Pages 1-23
  3. John Morecroft
    Pages 25-85
  4. Patrick Hoverstadt
    Pages 87-133
  5. Fran Ackermann, Colin Eden
    Pages 135-190
  6. Peter Checkland, John Poulter
    Pages 191-242
  7. Werner Ulrich, Martin Reynolds
    Pages 243-292
  8. Martin Reynolds, Sue Holwell
    Pages 293-306
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 307-309

About this book


In a world of increasing complexity, instant information availability and constant flux, systems approaches provide the opportunity of a tangible anchor of purpose and iterate learning. The five approaches outlined in the book offer a range of interchangeable tools with rigorous frameworks of application tried and tested in the ‘real world’. The frameworks of each approach form a powerful toolkit to explore the dynamics of how societies emerge, how organisations create viability, how to facilitate chains of argument through causal mapping, how to embrace a multiplicity of perspectives identifying purposeful activity and how to look for the bigger picture across multiple disciplines.

Systems Approaches offers an excellent first introduction for those seeking to understand what ‘systems thinking’ is all about as well as why the tools discussed herein should be applied to management and professional practice. This book provides a practical guide, and the chapters stand alone in explaining and developing each approach.


Change Management Multiple Perspectives System System Dynamics Systems Approach Systems Practice Viable System Model

Editors and affiliations

  • Martin Reynolds
    • 1
  • Sue Holwell
    • 2
  1. 1.Communication & Systems Dept.Open UniversityMilton KeynesUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Communication & Systems Dept.Open UniversityMilton KeynesUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Sue Holwell joined Cranfield University in 1998 and taught on the MSc in the Design of Information Systems and MBA at the Royal Military College of Science. In April 2002 she joined the Systems Department at the Open University. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, Centre for Complexity and Change, Technology Faculty, Open University.

Dr Martin Reynolds joined OU in 2000. He previously worked with Gerald Midgley at Hull University co-authoring Operational Research and Environmental Management with support from the Operational Research Society. His interest in critical systems came through PhD work on participatory natural resource-use appraisal in Botswana, based at the Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“Each course of this banquet is generously served by a master chef, either the creator of the methodology or a prominent practitioner. The chefs trace the origin and history of their creations and the fine ingredients they used, and discuss cooking tips and appropriate pairings. I appreciate the wisdom shared. … Reynolds and Holwell’s book … covers a smaller set of systems approaches. … Systems thinkers should read this book.” (Ernest Hughes, ACM Computing Reviews, October, 2010)

“The selection of the five approaches presented in the book on the basis that there is a rich interplay between the situation, the practitioner community and the methodology of each of the selected approaches. … it will certainly be useful for novice systems practitioners … . this is an excellent resource that will be valuable to systems scholars and practitioners … .” (Shamim Bodhanya, The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa, Vol. 7 (1), July, 2011)