The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

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Overview

Completely Updated and Revised

This revised edition of Peter Senge’s bestselling classic, The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth ...
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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

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Overview

Completely Updated and Revised

This revised edition of Peter Senge’s bestselling classic, The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the book demonstrate the many ways that the core ideas in The Fifth Discipline, many of which seemed radical when first published in 1990, have become deeply integrated into people’s ways of seeing the world and their managerial practices.

In The Fifth Discipline, Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning “disabilities” that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations—ones in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create results they truly desire.

The updated and revised Currency edition of this business classic contains over one hundred pages of new material based on interviews with dozens of practitioners at companies like BP, Unilever, Intel, Ford, HP, Saudi Aramco, and organizations like Roca, Oxfam, and The World Bank. It features a new Foreword about the success Peter Senge has achieved with learning organizations since the book’s inception, as well as new chapters on Impetus (getting started), Strategies, Leaders’ New Work, Systems Citizens, and Frontiers for the Future.

Mastering the disciplines Senge outlines in the book will:

• Reignite the spark of genuine learning driven by people focused on what truly matters to them
• Bridge teamwork into macro-creativity
• Free you of confining assumptions and mindsets
• Teach you to see the forest and the trees
• End the struggle between work and personal time

Senge's pathbreaking book draws on science, spiritual wisdom, psychology, and the cutting edge of management thought to show how businesses can overcome their "learning disabilites" and beat the odds of failure. The book provides a searching personal experience and a dramatic professional shift of mind.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Forget your old, tired ideas about leadership. The  most successful corporation of the 1990s will be  something called a learning organization." --  Fortune Magazine.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A director at MIT's Sloan School, Senge here proposes the ``systems thinking'' method to help a corporation to become a ``learning organization,'' one that integrates at all personnel levels indifferently related company functions (sales, product design, etc.) to ``expand the ability to produce.'' He describes requisite disciplines, of which systems-thinking is the fifth. Others include ``personal mastery'' of one's capacities and ``team learning'' through group discussion of individual objectives and problems. Employees and managers are also encouraged to examine together their often negative perceptions or ``mental models'' of company people and procedures. The text is esoteric and flavored with terms like ``recontextualized rationality,'' but the book should help inventory-addled retailers whom the author cites as unaware of their customers' desire for quality. Macmillan Book Clubs selection. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385517256
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/21/2006
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 51,489
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

PETER M. SENGE is the founding chairperson of the Society for Organizational Learning and a senior lecturer at MIT. He is the co-author of The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, The Dance of Change, and Schools That Learn (part of the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook series) and has lectured extensively throughout the world. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Read an Excerpt

1
Give Me a Lever Long Enough… And Single-Handed I Can Move The World

From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world. This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price. We can no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinsic sense of connection to a larger whole. When we then try to “see the big picture,” we try to reassemble the fragments in our minds, to list and organize all the pieces. But, as physicist David Bohm says, the task is futile–similar to trying to reassemble the fragments of a broken mirror to see a true reflection. Thus, after a while we give up trying to see the whole altogether.

The tools and ideas presented in this book are for destroying the illusion that the world is created of separate, unrelated forces. When we give up this illusion–we can then build “learning organizations,” organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.

As the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more complex and dynamic, work must become more “learningful.” It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the organization, a Ford or a Sloan or a Watson or a Gates. It’s just not possible any longer to figure it out from the top, and have everyone else following the orders of the “grand strategist.” The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization.

Learning organizations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak, and pretty much run their households all on their own. Learning organizations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great team, a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way– who trusted one another, who complemented one anothers’s strengths and compensated for one another’s limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results. I have met many people who have experienced this sort of profound teamwork–in sports, or in the performing arts, or in business. Many say that they have spent much of their life looking for that experience again. What they experienced was a learning organization. The team that became great didn’t start off great–it learned how to produce extraordinary results.

One could argue that the entire global business community is learning to learn together, becoming a learning community. Whereas once many industries were dominated by a single, undisputed leader–one IBM, one Kodak, one Xerox–today industries, especially in manufacturing, have dozens of excellent companies. American, European, or Japanese corporations are pulled forward by innovators in China, Malaysia, or Brazil, and they in turn, are pulled by the Koreans and Indians. Dramatic improvements take place in corporations in Italy, Australia, Singapore–and quickly become influential around the world.

There is also another, in some ways deeper, movement toward learning organizations, part of the evolution of industrial society. Material affluence for the majority has gradually shifted people’s orientation toward work–from what Daniel Yankelovich called an “instrumental” view of work, where work was a means to an end, to a more “sacred” view, where people seek the “intrinsic” benefits of work.(1) “Our grandfathers worked six days a week to earn what most of us now earn by Tuesday afternoon,” says Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance. “The ferment in management will continue until we build organizations that are more consistent with man’s higher aspirations beyond food, shelter and belonging.”

Moreover, many who share these values are now in leadership positions. I find a growing number of organizational leaders who, while still a minority, feel they are part of a profound evolution in the nature of work as a social institution. “Why can’t we do good works at work?” asked Edward Simon, former president of Herman Miller, a sentiment I often hear repeated today. In founding the “Global Compact,” UN Secretary General Kofi Annan invited businesses around the world to build learning communities that elevate global standards for labor rights, and social and environmental responsibility.

Perhaps the most salient reason for building learning organizations is that we are only now starting to understand the capabilities such organizations must possess. For a long time, efforts to build learning organizations were like groping in the dark until the skills, areas of knowledge, and paths for development of such organizations became known. What fundamentally will distinguish learning organizations from traditional authoritarian “controlling organizations” will be the mastery of certain basic disciplines. That is why the “disciplines of the learning organization” are vital.

DISCIPLINES OF THE LEARNING ORGANIZA TION

On a cold, clear morning in December 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the fragile aircraft of Wilbur and Orville Wright proved that powered flight was possible. Thus was the airplane invented; but it would take more than thirty years before commercial aviation could serve the general public.

Engineers say that a new idea has been “invented” when it is proven to work in the laboratory. The idea becomes an “innovation” only when it can be replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs. If the idea is sufficiently important, such as the telephone, the digital computer, or commercial aircraft, it is called a “basic innovation,” and it creates a new industry or transforms an existing industry. In these terms, learning organizations have been invented, but they have not yet been innovated.

In engineering, when an idea moves from an invention to an innovation, diverse “component technologies” come together. Emerging from isolated developments in separate fields of research, these components gradually form an ensemble of technologies that are critical to one another’s success. Until this ensemble forms, the idea, though possible in the laboratory, does not achieve its potential in practice.(2)

The Wright brothers proved that powered flight was possible, but the McDonnel Douglas DC3, introduced in 1935, ushered in the era of commercial air travel. The DC3 was the first plane that supported itself economically as well as aerodynamically. During those intervening thirty years (a typical time period for incubating basic innovations), myriad experiments with commercial flight had failed. Like early experiments with learning organizations, the early planes were not reliable and cost-effective on an appropriate scale.

The DC-3, for the first time, brought together five critical component technologies that formed a successful ensemble. They were: the variable-pitch propeller, retractable landing gear, a type of lightweight molded body construction called “monocque,” a radial air-cooled engine, and wing flaps. To succeed, the DC3 needed all five; four were not enough. One year earlier, the Boeing 247 was introduced with all of them except wing flaps. Boeing’s engineers found that the plane, lacking wing flaps, was unstable on takeoff and landing, and they had to downsize the engine.

Today, I believe, five new component technologies are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations. Though developed separately, each will, I believe, prove critical to the others’ success, just as occurs with any ensemble. Each provides a vital dimension in building organizations that can truly “learn,” that can continually enhance their capacity to realize their highest aspirations:

Systems Thinking. A cloud masses, the sky darkens, leaves twist upward, and we know that it will rain. We also know the storm runoff will feed into groundwater miles away, and the sky will clear by tomorrow. All these events are distant in time and space, and yet they are all connected within the same pattern. Each has an influence on the rest, an influence that is usually hidden from view. You can only understand the system of a rainstorm by contemplating the whole, not any individual part of the pattern.

Business and other human endeavors are also systems. They, too, are bound by invisible fabrics of interrelated actions, which often take years to fully play out their effects on each other. Since we are part of that lacework ourselves, it’s doubly hard to see the whole pattern of change. Instead, we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system, and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get solved. Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.

Though the tools are new, the underlying worldview is extremely intuitive; experiments with young children show that they learn systems thinking very quickly.

Personal Mastery. “Mastery” might suggest gaining dominance over people or things. But mastery can also mean a special level of proficiency. A master craftsman doesn’t dominate pottery or weaving. People with a high level of personal mastery are able to consistently realize the results that matter most deeply to them– in effect, they approach their life as an artist would approach a work of art. They do that by becoming committed to their own lifelong learning.

Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. As such, it is an essential cornerstone of the learning organization–the learning organization’s spiritual foundation. An organization’s commitment to and capacity for learning can be no greater than that of its members. The roots of this discipline lie in both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, and in secular traditions as well.

Bu few organizations encourage the growth of their people in this manner. This results in vast untapped resources: “People enter business as bright, well-educated, high-energy people, full of energy and desire to make a difference,” says Hanover’s O’Brien. “By the time they are 30, a few are on the fast track and the rest ‘put in their time’ to do what matters to them on the weekend. They lose the commitment, the sense of mission, and the excitement with which they started their careers. We get damn little of their energy and almost none of their spirit.”

And surprisingly few adults work to rigorously develop their own personal mastery. When you ask most adults what they want from their lives, they often talk first about what they’d like to get rid of: “I’d like my mother-in-law to move out,” they say, or “I’d like my back problems to clear up.” The discipline of personal mastery starts with clarifying the things that really matter to us, of living our lives in the service of our highest aspirations.

Here, I am most interested in the connections between personal learning and organizational learning, in the reciprocal commitments between individual and organization, and in the special spirit of an enterprise made up of learners.

Mental Models. Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior. For example, we may notice that a coworker dresses elegantly, and say to ourselves, “She’s a country club person.” About someone who dresses shabbily, we may feel, “He doesn’t care about what others think.” Mental models of what can or cannot be done in different management settings are no less deeply entrenched. Many insights into new markets or outmoded organizational practices fail to get put into practice because they conflict with powerful, tacit mental models.

For example, in the early 1970s, Royal Dutch/Shell, became one of the first large organizations to understand how pervasive was the influence of hidden mental models. Shell’s success in the 1970s and 1980s (rising from one of the weakest of the big seven oil companies to one of the strongest along with Exxon) during a period of unprecedented changes in the world oil business–the formation of OPEC, extreme fluctuations in oil prices and availability, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union–came in large measure from learning how to surface and challenge managers’ mental models as a discipline for preparing change. Arie de Geus, Shell’s Coordinator of Group Planning during the 80s, said that continuous adaptation and growth in a changing business environment depends on “institutional learning, which is the process whereby management teams change their shared mental models of the company, their markets, and their competitors. For this reason, we think of planning as learning and of corporate planning as institutional learning.”(3)

The discipline of working with mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. It also includes the ability to carry on “learningful” conversations that balance inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own thinking effectively and make that thinking open to the influence of others.

Building Shared Vision. If any one idea about leadership has inspired organizations for thousands of years, it’s the capacity to hold a shared picture of the future we seek to create. One is hardpressed to think of any organization that has sustained some measure of greatness in the absence of goals, values, and missions that become deeply shared throughout the organization. IBM had “service”; Polaroid had instant photography; Ford had public transportation for the masses and Apple had “computers for the rest of us.”(4) Though radically different in content and kind, all these organizations managed to bind people together around a common identity and sense of destiny.

When there is a genuine vision (as opposed to the all-too-familiar “vision statement”), people excel and learn, not because they are told to, but because they want to. But many leaders have personal visions that never get translated into shared visions that galvanize an organization. All too often, a company’s shared vision has revolved around the charisma of a leader, or around a crisis that galvanizes everyone temporarily. But, given a choice, most people opt for pursuing a lofty goal, not only in times of crisis but at all times. What has been lacking is a discipline for translating individual vision into shared vision–not a “cookbook” but a set of principles and guiding practices.

The practice of shared vision involves the skills of unearthing shared “pictures of the future” that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance. In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counter-productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I How our actions create our reality ... and how we can change it
1 "Give me a lever long enough ... and single-handed I can move the world" 3
2 Does your organization have a learning disability? 17
3 Prisoners of the system, or prisoners of our own thinking? 27
Pt. II The fifth discipline : the cornerstone of the learning organization
4 The laws of the fifth discipline 57
5 A shift of mind 68
6 Nature's templates : identifying the patterns that control events 92
7 Self-limiting or self-sustaining growth 113
Pt. III The core disciplines : building the learning organization
8 Personal mastery 129
9 Mental models 163
10 Shared vision 191
11 Team learning 216
Pt. IV Reflections from practice
12 Foundations 258
13 Impetus 272
14 Strategies 283
15 The leader's new work 317
16 Systems citizens 341
17 Frontiers 363
Pt. V Coda
18 The indivisible whole 379
App. 1 The learning disciplines 383
App. 2 Systems archetypes 389
App. 3 The U process 401
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 36 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • 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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