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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    The Fifth Discipline

    The Fifth Discipline was a required reading for my Quality Control class. I was assigned to present the concepts to the class and apply them to the engineering field. I think this book is very difficult to read because there is a lot of information and the concepts are mixed of business and engineering concepts.
    Basically, this book is about how to run an organization. Senge addresses five disciplines that organizations and leaders should strive to master in creating learning organizations. The five disciplines are:
    . Personal mastery: similar to continuous improvement. It means continually clarifying our personal vision while striving to see reality objectively.
    . Mental models: becoming conscious of our individual and collective mindset or worldview. Good leaders learn to consider other perspectives through inquiry and reflection.
    . Building a shared vision: the practice of continually engaging people in articulating personal visions for the future and building a common sense of purpose and vision.
    . Team learning: learning skills of dialogue and discussion in order to generate collective learning and produce results that are greater than the contributions of individuals.
    . Systems thinking: changing the way we think in order to see the underlying structures of things, the relationships among players and forces, and the dynamic complexity of many problems we face. The essence of this discipline lies in a shift of mind: seeing interrelationships rather than linear cause-effect chains, and seeing processes of change rather than snapshots.

    Personally, I recommend everyone who is either in engineering or business major to read this book. It's a great book. Since this book is difficult to read because of the deep meaning of the concepts, it would be better if you put enough time to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    A Student Review

    Peter Senge's book details in great length the problems that continue to plague many organizations. His outlines clear steps for solving these problems in a logical and systematic manner. In this book Senge outlines what he considers to be learning disabilities that contribute to the problems of many individuals and organizations. To overcome these disabilities he outlines five disciplines that when followed will provide continuous learning and improvement. He extensively covers the revolutionary ideas of his fifth discipline; systems thinking. Today more than ever there is a need to understand this form of thinking for both the individual and any organization that wishes to succeed in the modern global economy.

    I recommend this book for any student or employee who would like to make a positive contribution in their current or future workplace.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An inspiration...,

    The Learning Organization remains one of the most talked-of management concepts in today's business world, and nobody is as capable of explaining exactly what is a Learning Organization or what are the requirements for such an elusive concept than Peter Senge.
    Senge's main thesis is that for an organization to become a Learning organization, it must embrace five disciplines:
    1) Building Shared Vision so that the organization may build a common commitment to long term results and achievement.
    2) Mental models are a technique that can be used to foster creativity as well as readiness and openness to change and the unexpected.
    3) Team Learning is needed so that the learning is passed on from the individuals to teams (i.e. the organization as a whole).
    4) Personal Mastery is the individual's motivation to learn and become better (hence the term Mastery).
    and Finally
    5) The fifth discipline is that of Systems Thinking which allows to see a holistic systemic view of the organization as a function of its environment.

    However, this is not simply a book about management practice.. though it was written primarily for the use managers. This is a book about growth, improvement and continuous development. If you wish to achieve these results for yourself, your home, or your organization, then you MUST read this book.

    Senge introduces his ideas and concepts smoothly and in an absorbing style. He is able to explain difficult concepts simply and by the end, you find that you have whole-heartedly embraced his belief in the Learning Organization, in fact, you find yourself yearning for it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2007

    useful reading

    It is pretty heavy book to read since the author tries to give a lot of information in the book, I think if you put time to read and understand the book, it will help you to think more clearly in the future, makes you more organized and be more capable. the author also include several examples in his book making it easier to understand his points.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2006

    A Talented Guru

    Peter Senge has a wonderful talent as a founder and teacher of 'learning organization'. I know he has helped many through his deep understanding of the theories and practices on how to make an organization more effective. I know this book will open the minds of all who will read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge was, though difficult to fol

    The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge was, though difficult to follow at times, an extremely insightful book that opens the door to a whole new way of managerial thinking. In the book, Peter Senge goes through many of the problems, or ‘learning disabilities’, that have effected organizations over the years and offers 5 disciplines to remedy these disabilities. The five disciplines include shared vision, mental models, personal mastery, team learning, and systems thinking; the fifth discipline, or systems thinking, being the most important, most overlooked, and is the center piece that the other four disciplines surround. Mr. Senge walks the reader through the disciplines with great examples and stories, and truly believes that organizations must continue to pursue improvement in these areas in order to be successful. 

    One thing that Peter Senge continued to preach throughout the book is the importance of being a ‘learning organization’. A learning organization is an organization where everyone buys into the idea of continuous improvement and innovation. Within this type of organization, the leaders are not as concerned about the hierarchy within the organization but the significance of improvement. Implementing these five disciplines within an atmosphere that encourages creativity, individualism, and innovation is the only way to attain this. By having the boss send a memo demanding for each employee to share their vision for the company is not going to suffice; as this approach will only produce a watered down vision that the employees think their bosses want to hear and not at all what they truly see. Peter Senge does a wonderful job of continually shaping this idea and helping to bring it to life off the page. 

    I personally recommend this book to not only managers but all people operating within an organization; as the system where you live, work, or attend can always be improved. 

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  • Posted March 17, 2014

    This book was a lengthy but great read that explains the five di

    This book was a lengthy but great read that explains the five disciplines that are critical to running a successful business. At the root of these disciplines is the employee, and  this book emphasis the importance for everyone involved to have that drive to succeed. To develop their personal mastery and feel invested in their work. This book inspired me to create a clear path to reach my vision of running my own business. The concepts in the book are very important to understand and implement in any managerial or team environment where success depends on the collaboration of everyone involved to solve key issues.   

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Like others, I worked on a team that had to read and present on

    Like others, I worked on a team that had to read and present on this book for our Quality Control class. The book is long and a difficult read, yet it does a great job explaining the many errors that most people do not realize they do everyday. There are numerous examples and diagrams to gain a strong understanding of the material, and most of the info ties together to emphasis on each other. The book could be cut down into strong points with fewer examples to have a stronger impact on the reader. If there there was a revise or update, we recommend combining sections so the information had less transitions and flowed from one concept to the next. Overall, great book with a strong message of how to change mentalities of thinking for the better.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    Great book, to lead and for self.

    Initially The Fifth Discipline may seem only as an engineering or leadership book for the management team of a company for the formation and development of the Learning Organization. None the less, it gradually becomes a very engaging read in which the interrelation of self and the organization reveals how the same system can be applied to one self and serve as introspection tool for growth. Although the book is repetitive at times, it serves to truly attain understanding of the points and more abstract ideas treated. The Learning Organization is described as the most efficient model for the functioning of a team and ultimately a company of continual improvement and thus its capacity to achieve goals. Senge guides its formation based on five principles or "disciplines" with the help of many vivid examples that make deep though and making the connection to a real organization dynamic and exciting.
    I found one of the most interesting quotes was "Structures of which we are unaware hold us prisoners", which envelops the general problem that without being aware of shortcomings, improvement and development cannot occur. This concept resonates throughout the book, where every chapter begins by identifying the fundamental problem which prevents discipline implementation . This concept is also the cornerstone of the Fifth Discipline-Systems Thinking, where the underlying fabric of interrelated factors is a juxtaposition of the factor which makes organizations fail when ignored or makes them true Learning organizations, both as result of their learning environment..
    - Personal Mastery is the individual motivation created by "creative tension" or the moving force to reach a vision by purpose. It is essential to develop before systems thinking is achieved by surpassing archetypes of fundamental problems.
    -Mental Models is very similar to the concept of individual schema, and which has to be modified to attain shared vision (another Discipline) for everyone in the team from which it then can move forward.
    -Shared vision is explained as the concrete concept of a goal which is fueled by purpose to long term results and improvement.
    -Team Learning encompasses the various types of leaders and their capabilities in directing and "passing on" learning from individuals to the organization as a whole.
    As a result of Senge's passionate narration of how all these disciplines are interconnected, the book is an absorbing guide that encompasses every aspect of how to begin and achieve a Learning organization from the perspective of unit to the whole. It is truly a great book in as much for academic learning as for personal and social examination that leaves one believing in the Learning organization for its nominal and human value of common purpose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    This book was very hard to read. However, there was interesting

    This book was very hard to read. However, there was interesting information about the learning disabilities and how that can impact a company/organization. What I found to be most interesting was the importance of having a learning organization and systems thinking. Senge stated in order to be successful, people within an organization must learn how to learn together, and one must view the system as a whole. One person’s action will impact the entire system. Although such a simple concept, it is still plaguing many organizations. What helped with the reading was listening to the audio book also. The audio book contained many examples that cleared up much confusion from reading. I felt that the book had more information than needed. Senge could have reduced the number of pages and still have made all of his points.

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  • Posted May 30, 2012

    The Fifth Discipline - great book

    The Fifth Discipline was assign in my Quality Class. What this book did for me, it gave me a good idea of how business are affected because they do not or are not able to implement the different strategies of being a leader and knowing how to run a business when one faces bigger problems than the ones we are used to seen everyday. There are some people out there that are very successful for example the Google Company or Facebook. These people are the type of people that are able to see their vision of where they want to be. As Senge explained, these men had a vision, but used the gap that existed between their vision and current reality to inspire their workers to achieve remarkable things. And they created self-reinforcing systems to do so. Another, thing that I really enjoy about this book is that, even though this book is really old it has examples that one can relate to and be able to understand them. The way it is written with different kind of examples help people understands the concept and the importance of the book. Sometimes when books are old the examples that are used usually need some updates but this book was really good it doesn’t feel like it needs any updating even though it is old it gets the point across.
    The fifth discipline has three primary steps that are really helpful to any organization and business. These steps should be learned by the managers and the bosses in order to have a successful business. First, we must think of organizations and their missions as complex systems rather than as collections of isolated problems. It is pitch for the development of a complete view. How everything interacts and what factors act upon what other factors. This book is a tool that can help pinpoint what should be done, or what needs to be done in an organization. It assist on how to break mental habits of looking only at the bottom line of sales revenues, for example, rather than the need to provide better service or delivery times. Second, employees must be permitted to make their own decisions locally, requiring honesty and openness throughout the organization as standard practice. This enables them to question and learn, not just individually but as part of a unified team. It helps managers to listen to workers and to implement their ideas into the business or organization. Mistakes are part of this process and should be allowed as valid experiments. Third, the task of a leader is to design an organizational system within which this can all be accomplished. Rather than control all decisions in a centralized manner in accordance with a rigid plan, the leader must develop a vision of where they organization should go and then allow his employees to pursue that vision as a team with great autonomy.
    It was a great experience in reading this book. It was the first business book that I have read but I am looking forward on reading more business books because they give you a good idea of what business are like and what are the problems that organizations are having and how they can be solved. I really recommend this book to everyone but specially to managers because they are the ones that will face most of the problems in the businesses or organizations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Good work

    This is a great look into ways that businesses can thrive.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Must Read

    It's complicated, but its depth is wide-reaching and comprehensive. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    A good step towards personal mastery

    The Fifth discipline written by Peter Senge overall is a very interesting book, it has great theories supported with examples which are critical to many different organizations and personal life. The methodologies proposed in the book can definitely help reinforce already existing belief or help highlight mistakes that are currently in existence. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with Senge's views, it is without a doubt a good read.
    The only negative aspect of this writing is that although he provides actual stories of businesses succeeding or failing as evidence for his points. Many times he fails to show that his theories are the actual reasons why the companies were able to succeed. One example of this would be the success of the Shell Corporation during the oil crisis. Although he was able to show that with proper mental models the company used was critical to their success, the Shell Corporation could have just as easily have had an improper forecast and failed. Then the example would have been detrimental to his theory instead. Perhaps if Senge were to include fewer examples and explain the examples further so that he can reinforce his points it may be more convincing.
    None the less the five disciplines mentioned in the book are useful. Some of the disciplines are focused on changing oneself instead of merely focusing on changing the organization. This way, although trying to change the organization may be long and strenuous to some being able to improve one's personal mastery can be a great accomplishment in the personal aspect. In addition to that being a part of a learning organization with a shared vision is better than one without these qualities. Although it is unsure the importance and effectiveness of the disciplines as heavy as Senge claims, it is certain that results will vary from organization to organization. Despite a few blemishes, the book is a useful read and can help add value to the reader being a part of any organization.

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  • Posted June 3, 2011

    This is a useful book that I strongly recommend

    Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline contains the information and practices necessary for an organization to become a learning organization. That being said, the lessons in this book are of great help to anyone looking to improve the way they work within a group, how a group works, and even improve a large multinational corporation. The "five disciplines" are all strongly tied together and spelled out in plain language for many to read, understand, and benefit from. They are, however, quite complex to master. The book teaches people to alter or avoid actions that come naturally with being human. From defensive mechanisms that hinder cooperation, to small scale thinking that keeps people from focusing on an entire system, Senge has written a book that is a must read for anyone that cares and wants to improve upon the way that they or their company works, learns and strives for goals.

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    Good book for Leaders Out there

    The book does explain very well about the five disciplines and he does use good examples such as the Cold War, Water Faucet, and the Beer game. However, I had some hard time understanding the flow of the book contents. It seems like Senge keeps going back and forth between different subject and it seemed quite hard for me to keep up with it. He first starts off the book explaining about Systems Thinking which is the fifth discipline that kind of sums up the other four disciplines and I think it would have been better if he talked more about systems thinking after he has fully wrote about the four disciplines. The most favorite chapter that I enjoyed was his chapters Impetus and Strategies. Those two chapter explain thoroughly about how some organizations have benefited from applying the principles and also explain about the possible strategies that other organizations can use to succeed in their part of the business. I strongly recommend that all of the leaders of an organization should read this book because it has a lot that can be learned on how to become a successful organization.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2010

    A Mind-shifting Book

    Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization is a mind-shifting read that flies in the face of traditional business habits and tendencies. Senge contends that Systems Thinking, the "fifth discipline", has to be the backbone of an organization that truly excels. In the first few chapters, Senge presents the Beer Game which illustrates the critical importance of viewing a business as merely one component of a much larger process. The flaw in the beer game is behaving as if your organization is the only piece of the process that you can control. Senge brilliantly demonstrates that all parts of a system are tightly integrated and that they can, and do, affect each other thoroughly.

    Many of the ideas in Senge's book are counterintuitive and somewhat complex, but are presented in a straightforward and palpable manner that can be absorbed by most readers with any level of business experience. Throughout his book are pictures and diagrams that prove to be very helpful in grasping some of the more elaborate concepts. Systems thinking can be daunting to grasp at first. However, Senge uses simple, thought-provoking statements such as "faster is slower", "the cure can be worse than the desease", and "the easy way out usually leads back in" to paint the picture of Systems Thinking. While the book is primarily intended for managers, leaders and business owners, it certainly has much to offer for anyone who wants a more well rounded perspective on how to view cycles and systems that we all encounter in daily life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2010

    A well written road map to the use and implementation of a Learning Organization

    I was assigned to read this book, "The Fifth Discipline; The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization" for a college Statistical Quality Control course. The book's author, Peter M. Senge is unarguably brilliant and the ideas brought forth in his book emphasize this. The fifth discipline is essentially an encyclopedia of the five learning disciplines; personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, team learning, and the discipline that ties all others together, systems thinking. Senge's purpose for the book was obvious; to convince top management in a company to use the "Learning Organization" style that he created promoting continuous improvement in all levels of employment from the shop workers to the CEO. This enables a company to be flexible and adaptive in an ever changing social business dynamic such as what is seen in our modern society. This promotion at all levels at a company and its facilitation is the premise of the five disciplines. Each individual must be aware of his or her own visions and purpose as well as remember that their actions, inactions, or decisions have overall effects on others and may perhaps even affect the company as a whole. This idea of systems thinking and self-awareness ties in the four other important book concepts; self promotion and continuous improvement of mind and attitude, perceiving potential limiting beliefs (mental models) that, while long accepted, may hinder the continuous learning attitude and growth promoted in the organization, creating a mutual desire or goal among a group of people more readily allowing learning growth at all levels in an organization, and using the peer network to encourage personal growth as well as giving employees a voice in decision making and discussion hence enhancing the company as a whole.
    Senge uses many ready examples to back up his personal dialogue. He uses examples from all sectors of business from insurance to aerospace to the beer market. He also makes extensive use of flow diagrams to visually emphasize his system dynamics theories. However, there are times when Senge takes things into unnecessary detail with continuous repetition of points. There are times in the book where Senge could have put down the pen, yet his points would still be crystal clear. This can turn many away (especially in the first few chapters in the book) from wanting to continue through the book. Some of the book is dry on humor and hard to follow due to the sheer complexity of the topics discussed. Also, many chapters drag on despite the conclusion of the discussion. Though, one other thing to note; you can skip through the book a bit and not miss any key details. It is not a novel, more of an encyclopedia/roadmap with four parts plus one (systems thinking again ties it all together). So, while a bit of the book is tedious and cumbersome to get through, Senge's main points are extremely well written out and are enlightening from any perspective. Overall, I would recommend anyone in a position of leadership (management, supervisor, etc.) to at the least read and understand Senge's main points and a few of his examples illustrating them. They may just broaden the horizons of someone looking for a way to improve overall company system dynamics and interactions between those in a leadership positions and those being directed.

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  • Posted May 29, 2010

    A great book for all

    The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge is a great book which focusing on group problem solving using the systems thinking method in order to convert companies into learning organizations. Senge discussed five disciplines of the learning organization by providing a lot of examples from some famous former and current companies.
    The five disciplines are personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. Senge also explained and provided excellent examples how to put the theory into practice. Most of these points were written in the views as of an engineer. Managers should really read this book; however, I think everyone should also read it, and you could benefit from the reading.
    The book was easy to understand, and it taught us how to improve ourselves in the way of seeing and thinking things differently. Senge suggested us to share our ideas and to learn from each other. By applying the five disciplines, Senge showed us how individual behavior impacts the whole system and how systems create their own crises as well as how to handle certain situations and avoid failures.
    The Fifth Discipline was a great book for everyone who is working in an organization. It especially helps managers to become more profession in the ways of seeing, thinking, and practicing. After I read this book, I really love it because it is helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2005

    The Big Picture

    This book is a definite must read for any person in a higher management position, but the principals that are dealt with can be applied by anyone. The main concept of the book is how we as people grow up dealing with situations piece by piece instead of looking at the big picture. It shows how if you look at an entire system you are more likely to truly solve a problem because you will see interactions between different parts of the system and how one affects another. It also shows how the solution to a problem can sometimes end up being worse than the problem itself. With out using systems thinking, a company will never be able to reach their full potential. The book can be hard to read at times but the information that is taken from it is priceless. If someone was to only pick up the book, and read a chapter or two, vital information can be learned.

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