11th April 2018

Knowledge Type

Data & Statistics Research paper


, Association for Project Management

Major Project



Dr Michael EmesWilliam Griffiths

Of Interest To

Academia Consultants Contractors Leadership teams Operators Private sector clients Public sector clients

Systems Thinking: How is it used in projects and project management?


Systems thinking is not a new technique for project management, but neither its application, nor understanding of its benefits, is widespread. Interviews and two surveys were conducted to explore the use of systems thinking in project management.

The study found that the majority of respondents believe that project managers use some form of systems thinking at least half of the time, but many recognised systems thinking tools like rich pictures and soft systems methodology are not widely used in projects. Use of systems thinking tools is slightly greater for more experienced project managers, and for those working in sectors that deliver complex technological products such as defence and aerospace.