This is an important book with seminal ideas, and highly recommended to readers interested in Action Research; Systems Thinking; and Conflict Management. For these three subject areas are blended through a change process (System of Inquiry).
Professor Burns introduces key ideas of systemic change such as Improvisation; Parallel Development of multiple streams of inquiry; and Resonance in achieving stakeholder commitment. There are also a wide range of supporting techniques, some new as part of the development of Systemic Action Research such as Whole System Review; Storyboards; Cross road events; and Mapping Connections, while others are drawn in such as "Open Space" and "World Cafe" covering a range of senses: verbal; visual; physical.
My personal view is that this is a very important book on how to enable successful and sustainable change, one that also has the potential to fit into the area of Complex Socio-Technical Systems Thinking.
The book's strength can also be it's weakness. The book is written as an extension of Professor Burns' experience in this field; his "Journey Traveled". While this benefits the narrative it can also make the book more difficult to read for some, such as myself. Though I do encourage persistence if this is the case. For example: First, one cannot dip into it, it is best read cover to cover to understand what the author is conveying. Second, key concepts are not highlighted but built into the text's narrative. Third, examples are based on academic and non government agency funded social research some readers may not relate easily to. Fourth, while consistent with past and current perspectives on Action Research it is inconsistent with Systems Thinking with regard to organisations. That is, organisations are not just social systems to be addressed through a social perspective, but socio-technical systems (e.g. Human Activity Systems) where cultural, relationship, and human design dimensions of a purposeful system are involved. Systemic Action Research: A Strategy for Whole System Change