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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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Top Customer Reviews
Covering a wealth of topics in only a little over 400 pages, this book addresses the breakdowns in many modern managagement methods. And, not just the most obvious (ego-centered leaders operating in a sort of "do what I say, not what I do" personalist approach), but really digging into the nature of system breakdown both mechanically (operations) and biologically (personnel). That is, he cuts past the fads of the past ("Management by measurement" or "Competition between people is essential to achieve desired performance" anyone? see page xiv) to unearth more abstract, yet therefore timeless models of the learning organization, that to make real, must be lived, yet allow a transformation and continuous evolution to become truly embodied in such a way that recall memory isn't in operation in the system players and their strategies, but more a muscle memory that requires less thinking about the system and more an allowing of the principles to manifest themselves through each organization, department or person(s).
The book highlights and delves deeply into:
1. How our actions create our reality
2. How our mental models limit our actions
3. How a system is a biofeedback process
4. How short-term gains are self-limiting without long-term commitment
5. How the whole is greater than the sum of its parts
6. How personal mastery replaces personal gain
7. How change and growth come through the parts uniting to form the whole.
8. How to "become a leader is to become a human being."
This book is a useful guide for those taking university statistics. It’s filled with history, personal experiences, and must-knows. It’s dense, however simplified impressively well. For example, he describes the complex system behind a descent beer company through the perspective of the Brewer, wholesaler, and retailer. Along with week by week events, Data, charts, and descriptions. Somehow, he even connects the truck driver into all this…
There are so many examples, he taps into every body’s perspective.
There is one minor drawback: he cites too many examples and naturally does not have space to explain all of them. This book might require a bit of personal research if read critically. For example, he makes controversial claims like the modern education system being flawed, and the influence of terrorism, but hesitates to dissect the issues. He throws them in as fun facts, and trusts the leader to take it from there.
His revised edition contains almost 100 new pages:
-step-by step teachings on how to be not just a leader, but also a designer, teacher, and steward
-how to reconnect within society as a whole
It stands out in the genre of systems thinking literature by addressing the point that’s been bothering many of us: If everyone wants people-centered learning organizations; why don’t they exist? Senge claims it’s because we have no idea the kind of commitment to change that is necessary.
That really engaged my attention; I wondered “what exactly does it take to break the vicious cycles?” I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, because the book is certainly worth the short time it takes to read, but here are two ideas that really stood out and may motivate you to find the many others.
On the discipline of building shared vision: “It's not what the vision is – it’s what the vision does.”
And, surprisingly drawing on the work of theoretical physicist David Bohm during the discussion of Team Learning: ‘Dialogue and discussion are the mechanisms of team learning. Dialogue allows us to expose our thoughts to ourselves; discussion lets us defend them.’
I can see why some reviewers call it redundant, I'd advise everyone to keep pushing. It is a bit verbose but you'd miss a few gems if you choose to skip over passages and or pages.
I'm really happy with this purchase. I bought "Systems Thinking for Social Change" before I purchased this one, and I couldn't get through it entirely. It references "The Fifth Discipline" as well as "Thinking in Systems" by Donella Meadows, After previewing both I figured I'd start here. And I will read them all, this is such a fascinating subject.