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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 21, 2006
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.
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Senge's approach to creating the five disciplines stems from the business theory of systems thinking. This theoretical approach is concerned with how each individual in an organization interacts with others in the organization (the greater system). The system has subsystems and to be a learning organization must incorporate the disciplines to modify the relationships as needed for the greater good of the whole.
The Fifth Discipline is filled with examples that illustrate that goodness of systems thinking approaches. Its antithesis is the silo organization, a common example in local and national governments. In the silo organization, individuals see their own best interests in building their fiefdoms in order to keep their positions. The learning organization always strives to connect individual's best interests with those of the organization as a whole, necessitating a far greater degree of cooperation and much more nuanced management.
The halcyon days when Senge's book appeared are really just a memory now. But many of his ideas have been incorporated into other author's works and these ideas live on.
I wonder if the linking of the each employee's interests to the interests of the organization as a whole is in many cases de-linked by forces of globalization. Since Senge wrote this book, health care costs have increased dramatically. It would be great to have a new edition to this book published.
In support of brevity, here are the two reasons this book is a winner:
1) He logically refutes the culturally accepted and automatic behavior of short-term problem solving. Although a dose of Pepto-Bismol relieves the immediate discomfort, one might consider changing eating patterns (type of food, time of meals, quantity of food, dining environment) instead. His "shifting the burden" archetype explains in detail why short-term problem solving is never the answer to today's complex challenges, but actually the primary perpetrator of organizational extinction.
2) His book is a constant invitation to: a) embrace delays once a "solution" has been acted upon, and b) not panic. This is in contrast to how we (and many organizations) typically: a) reject the most recent "solution" after the desired change doesn't occur quickly, and b) blame others so as to alleviate our panic and/or remove ourselves from the situation (or undesirable consequences of the situation).
This is the most valuable instruction manual you can have in business. Not only that, but the application of Senge's ideas are just as appropriate in the educational, non-profit, or even personal realm. You need this book today.
This is a fairly well written book. The language is generally engaging and the small stories sprinkled throughout the book are effective in keeping the book interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone who is in any level of management, and preferably to groups of managers within a single organization, because the ideas within this writing are much more effective when more people are on board with them from the beginning.
In order to be a learning organization each group must practice an ensemble of 5 disciplines. All explained with great examples. An old but very good book.
I got it for my Grandson who is now working in business. It's one of the best books he could read, right?