Systems Concepts in Action: A Practitioner's Toolkit

The book, authored by Bob Williams and Richard Hummelbrunner, is focused on the practical use of systems ideas. It describes 19 commonly used systems approaches and outlines a range of tools that can be used to implement them.


"The book's Introduction gives an overview of systems thinking, its origins, and its major subfields. In addition, the introductory text to each of the book's three parts provides background information on the selected methods. Systems Concepts in Action may serve as a workbook, offering a selection of tools that readers can use immediately. The approaches presented can also be investigated more profoundly, using the recommended readings provided. While these methods are not intended to serve as "recipes," they do serve as a menu of options from which to choose. Readers are invited to combine these instruments in a creative manner in order to assemble a mix that is appropriate for their own strategic needs." (Williams & Hummelbrunner, 2010)


  • Describing and analyzing situations
  • Changing and managing situations
  • Learning about situations

This book is available for purchase from Stanford University Press


Williams, B., & Hummelbrunner, R. (2010). Systems concepts in action a practitioner's toolkit. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press. Retrieved from

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