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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization Paperback – October 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Business; 1st edition (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385260954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385260954
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Peter Senge, founder of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT's Sloan School of Management, experienced an epiphany while meditating one morning back in the fall of 1987. That was the day he first saw the possibilities of a "learning organization" that used "systems thinking" as the primary tenet of a revolutionary management philosophy. He advanced the concept into this primer, originally released in 1990, written for those interested in integrating his philosophy into their corporate culture.

The Fifth Discipline has turned many readers into true believers; it remains the ideal introduction to Senge's carefully integrated corporate framework, which is structured around "personal mastery," "mental models," "shared vision," and "team learning." Using ideas that originate in fields from science to spirituality, Senge explains why the learning organization matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principals, offers some basic tools for practicing it, and shows what it's like to operate under this system. The book's concepts remain stimulating and relevant as ever. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About 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..

Customer Reviews

It's not an easy book to read, but well worth the effort.
Gautam Ghosh
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.
Dave117
The fifth discipline by Peter Senge is probably the most influential book on learning organizations.
Yenky Tanuharjo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on March 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
All too often, I find myself acting cynically about my field and ready to dismiss just about anything as mediocre, no matter how popular or praised. Well, this is one book that I think is really excellent - for content, for clarity, for sincerity, for the stories reported in it.
When I plow through a business book, I try to see if I can remember the central ideas, the essence of what the author has to say from the mass of details and stories that make up every business book. Most often, they are appalingly banal and pathetically over-applied, touted as able to solve just about every problem, in particular if a fee is paid to the authors to come and talk about it in person. I was preparted to treat this book the same way, and was simply delighted to find a truly excellent and useful book. And gee, I am glad that I can get inspired by a book in my chosen field, rather than bored!
As I see it, this book has three principal ideas. First, we must think of organizations and their missions as complex systems rather than as conglomerations of isolated problems. It is pitch for the development of a holistic view - how everything interacts and what factors act upon what other factors. This is an analytical tool that can pinpoint what should be done, breaking 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 empowered 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, hence the subtitle of a learning organization. Mistakes are part of this process and should be allowed as valid experiments.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By "guy-72" on May 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Fifth Discipline stresses the importance of cultivating a learning organization. Accordingly, it is a book of learning more than of application. The content is very philosophical compared to other business-oriented books that I've read. The author, Senge, forces the reader to be alert and to be open. With that in mind, this book has a wealth of information to share with its readers. Although I would not recommend this book to the casual reader, it is a must-read for anyone who cares to be intellectually challenged from a business leadership perspective, and who wants to deepen their own knowledge-base in order to become more insightful leaders in their organization.
In chapter two, Senge wastes no time getting to the fact that most business organizations (even the "good" ones) have a real learning deficiency. Often, businesses find some way to get the job done, but have no culture that fosters real growth and accumulation of new, outside knowledge. As a result, many businesses-while growing in the areas of sales, profits, employees, etc.-nonetheless are often doomed to repeat past mistakes, and perhaps set themselves up for a much bigger fall in the future.
Senge's discussion of mental models (chapter 10) and the role they play in every person's interactions with others is of value to the manager who wonders why they are sometimes ineffective when it comes to working with certain other individuals. Our mental models often effect our outward actions towards others in negative or at least non-productive ways, and we are usually not even cognizant of that fact. The "Action Science" theory is also interesting as we try to learn how to more effectively interact with others in the organization.
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87 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Layla Halabi on February 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
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!
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