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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 21, 2006
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But learning may be about to become less rare in our organizations. The 21st century brings a networked world of business -- and in this era only living, learning organizations will be able to adapt and survive. All companies will be linked in a global ecosystem. No company will know when and where the next competitor will emerge. To sustain themselves, all organizations will need to constantly innovate and learn.
Senge's book is worth having and keeping on your bookshelf because it gets to the essence of what's needed to create a learning organization. Senge describes five disciplines that must be mastered at all levels of the organization:
1. Personal mastery -- clarifying personal vision, focusing energy, and seeing reality
2. Shared vision -- transforming individual vision into shared vision
3. Mental models -- unearthing internal pictures and understanding how they shape actions
4. Team learning -- suspending judgments and creating dialogue
5.Read more ›
Here's my take on a couple of the disciplines:
Systems Thinking: Believing in myths about business leads us to make the same mistakes again and again. We cannot escape these bad cycles unless we see the whole system of how problems occur and then change the structure that create the problems.
Shared Vision: Forget work-life balance. Think work-life integration. Know why the work you are doing is important to you. Transform your work and workplace to create a learning organization where everyone strives to accomplish a shared vision. That vision sounds idealistic, but it is more realistic than trying to lead two separate lives-work and home.
Unfortunately, the author is very long-winded and over-explains concepts repeatedly - taking what should have been less than 50 pages of information and turning it into a 400 page behemoth that is difficult to slog through.
Several people to whom I have recommended this book have suggested that one order the fieldbook instead, as it contains all of the original work's raw information and models in a 17 page executive summary at the beginning. Most people seem to find that more usable than this book.
As a writer, The Fifth Discipline is verbose, meanders all over the place, repeats itself frequently, and name-drops obscure people that you'd never have heard of. These properties makes it a difficult and frequently frustrating read.
As a manager, however, the fifth discipline encodes some ideas about leadership that I've found nowhere else, and hammers home certain ideas in ways that not only make sense, but have you excited about putting them in place.
The central premise of the book is that human organizations are dynamic living systems which have non-linear behavior in response to events and change. This includes several properties that make leadership challenging:
Many incentive systems improve performance in the short term but decrease performance over the long term.
Many feedback cycles are extremely long, far beyond what humans were evolved to deal with, and exacerbate human tendencies to either blame individuals for poor performance or put in place patch after patch to try to solve problems rather than deal with an integrative approach to problem solving. In particular, who you hire, who you fire, and who you promote has performance impact on your organization measured in years, making it difficult to get better because the feedback cycle takes so long.
Most long term solutions and systems approach to problem solving are counter-intuitive and difficult to sell to short-term oriented business cultures.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book if you're looking for a better understanding of organizational systems and trying to become a better leader. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Real Person 12345
Awesome. I work in public education. This is super for professional learning communities (PLC)!!
Administrators should read.
A book that borders on Zen practice for organizations, and one that I intend to return to regularly in my work and with my teams. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Daniel
Great book on how to harness group intellect as well as looking at cause and effect when separated by increasing time frames.Published 21 days ago by Bruce E. Sands MD
A must read not only for understanding business systems, but it's awesome for understanding how things work in general.Published 25 days ago by Debra E. Johnson