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The Fifth Discipline

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Book Overview

One of the seminal management books of the past 75 years, The Fifth Discipline is an international multi-million-copy bestseller. Written in an engaging and accessible way, with diagrams and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Good Read for Leaders & Educators

One of the challenges of leading is staying ahead of challenges and in-the-know without being paranoid and overworked. Peter Senge describes how to be a learning kind of leader and create a system where employees (and students) can thrive. He uses relevant examples of companies and tried-and-true wisdom, putting into words the world we live in today. It's a meaty book, for sure.

Where can I find a learning organization?

Since I read this book 15 years ago, the idea of the learning organization has embedded itself in my brain and not let go. I've been on a search to find or create the learning organization ever since. I've never been sure that it really exists in practice, so it's good to see that the revised edition adds the reflections of some successful practitioners, demonstrating that learning organizations have emerged, even if they are almost as rare as they were before the first edition of Senge's book was published. 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. Systems thinking -- fusing the four learning disciplines; from seeing the parts to seeing wholes As Senge explains, the fifth discipline is particularly important because it ties the others together and helps explain the complex behavior and outcomes that happen in organizations. It illuminates the feedback loops -- the growth cycles, control cycles, and delays that drive our organizational systems. Senge's book gives us a language for understanding these systems and explaining their dramatic successes and failures.-- the virtuous cycles and death spirals that are weekly reported in the news -- and shows us a way of thinking that can help us copy patterns of victory and avoid patterns of defeat. Learning organizations are rare because the five disciplines are hard. It's self-evident that personal mastery, shared vision, self awareness, and team learning are essential components of a great company, but to master these disciplines in a large organization requires a level of communication, relationship-building, conflict resolution, and the attendant time and commitment, than most people have the capability or willingness to invest. Even in a small team this is hard: the changes we need are at odds with conventional wisdom and conventional management. Currently, it is only the exceptional leader who is able to defy conventional wisdoms and have the personal vision to build a learning organization. This may be about to change. Business and society are experiencing a dramatic shift. Gl

A Must-Read for Business and Life

I read many business books-this is the best I've read in years, maybe ever. Now I know why so many other business books, methods and cultures leave me feeling empty. The insight in Fifth Discipline aligns with my mental models and suggests a path for achieving great things, rather than for getting promoted or making a buck. 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.

positively excellent

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. 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.I have wanted to read this book for almost ten years. It was first pointed out to me by a remarkable business leader in mainland China, Zhang Ruimin, the founder of the Haier Group, as a seminal text for him. He said that he had built a learning organization in accordance with Senge's prescriptions, and after so many years, I see that indeed he did. What this book did for me was to give me a better idea of Zhang's mind and what went on in it. But it has also given me a clearer idea of many other remarkable entrepreneurs whom I have had the pleasure and honor to meet over the years in my work. 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 fascinating asp

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 Finally5) 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!

Understand the systems around you, and create lasting change

Nothing happens in isolation, every event or situation is the result of numerous related events. In order to create lasting change in a work environment, in your personal life, or in your physical health, there are numerous interrelated factors that contribute to the current situation. Within this book you will discover how your actions create your current reality, and why certain actions may or may not bring about the desired change. The book identifies "systems archetypes" such as the snowball effect, balancing loops, growth and under investment, fixes that fail, limits to growth, shifting the burden and others. These are general models that describe many familiar scenarios and situations.Along the way, the book details:Personal mastery - a commitment to personal growth and learningMental Models - The beliefs that people hold about the world, change, and reality that may be impeding the change process or limiting growth.Shared Vision - Overcoming mental models and bringing concerns and beliefs out in to the open, so members of an organization may work toward a common goal.Team learning - Building on shared vision, by aligning goals, dreams and desires, in a manner such that a group of people function as a whole to achieve a common goal.There are numerous easy to understand examples of the five disciplines at work in the book, that anyone can relate to and understand. They range from corporate examples such as the ultimate failure of Peoples Express airlines, a simple supply chain management scenario in the "Beer Game" and numerous examples from everyday life.It's an easy reading book, very thought provoking, and enlightening, definitely worth picking up a copy. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, and the Dance of Change provide excellent complimentary reading to the 5th Discipline, and are full of exercises relating to the Fifth Discipline. In addition, Eli Goldratt has written several books that compliment this work very well particularly the Goal.
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