Guide The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

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An appreciation of systems will lead to recognition of the use of, and problems with, such reinforcing feedback, and also an understanding of the place of balancing or stabilizing feedback. See, also Kurt Lewin on feedback. Peter Senge 92 concludes:. The systems viewpoint is generally oriented toward the long-term view. They only come back to haunt you in the long term. The five disciplines can be approached at one of three levels:. Essences: the state of being those with high levels of mastery in the discipline Senge Each discipline provides a vital dimension.

Personal mastery. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. It goes beyond competence and skills, although it involves them.

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It goes beyond spiritual opening, although it involves spiritual growth ibid. Mastery is seen as a special kind of proficiency. It is not about dominance, but rather about calling.

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Vision is vocation rather than simply just a good idea. People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. But personal mastery is not something you possess.

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It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident. It has deep echoes in the concerns of writers such as M. Scott Peck and Erich Fromm The discipline entails developing personal vision; holding creative tension managing the gap between our vision and reality ; recognizing structural tensions and constraints, and our own power or lack of it with regard to them; a commitment to truth; and using the sub-conscious ibid.

Mental models. We are often not that aware of the impact of such assumptions etc. The discipline of mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. Senge 9. If organizations are to develop a capacity to work with mental models then it will be necessary for people to learn new skills and develop new orientations, and for their to be institutional changes that foster such change.

Moving the organization in the right direction entails working to transcend the sorts of internal politics and game playing that dominate traditional organizations. In other words it means fostering openness Senge It also involves seeking to distribute business responsibly far more widely while retaining coordination and control. Learning organizations are localized organizations ibid.

Building shared vision. Such a vision has the power to be uplifting — and to encourage experimentation and innovation.

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In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counter-productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt. Visions spread because of a reinforcing process. Increased clarity, enthusiasm and commitment rub off on others in the organization. Where organizations can transcend linear and grasp system thinking, there is the possibility of bringing vision to fruition.

The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization - Book Review

Team learning. It builds on personal mastery and shared vision — but these are not enough. People need to be able to act together. When teams learn together, Peter Senge suggests, not only can there be good results for the organization, members will grow more rapidly than could have occurred otherwise.

To the Greeks dia-logos meant a free-flowing if meaning through a group, allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individually…. When dialogue is joined with systems thinking, Senge argues, there is the possibility of creating a language more suited for dealing with complexity, and of focusing on deep-seated structural issues and forces rather than being diverted by questions of personality and leadership style.

Indeed, such is the emphasis on dialogue in his work that it could almost be put alongside systems thinking as a central feature of his approach. Peter Senge argues that learning organizations require a new view of leadership. He sees the traditional view of leaders as special people who set the direction, make key decisions and energize the troops as deriving from a deeply individualistic and non-systemic worldview In a learning organization, leaders are designers, stewards and teachers. They are responsible for building organizations were people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models — that is they are responsible for learning….

Many of the qualities that Peter Senge discusses with regard to leading the learning organization can be found in the shared leadership model discussed elsewhere on these pages. For example, what Senge approaches as inspiration, can be approached as animation. Here we will look at the three aspects of leadership that he identifies — and link his discussion with some other writers on leadership.

Leader as designer. The functions of design are rarely visible, Peter Senge argues, yet no one has a more sweeping influence than the designer Integrating the five component technologies is fundamental. However, the first task entails designing the governing ideas — the purpose, vision and core values by which people should live. Other disciplines also need to be attended to, but just how they are to be approached is dependent upon the situation faced. Leader as steward. While the notion of leader as steward is, perhaps, most commonly associated with writers such as Peter Block , Peter Senge has some interesting insights on this strand.

One of the important things to grasp here is that stewardship involves a commitment to, and responsibility for the vision, but it does not mean that the leader owns it. It is not their possession. Leaders learn to see their vision as part of something larger.

Peter Senge and the learning organization |

Telling the story in this way allows others to be involved and to help develop a vision that is both individual and shared. Leader as teacher. By and large most managers and leaders tend to focus on the first two of these levels and under their influence organizations do likewise. By attending to purpose, leaders can cultivate an understanding of what the organization and its members are seeking to become.

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One of the issues here is that leaders often have strengths in one or two of the areas but are unable, for example, to develop systemic understanding. It is about fostering learning, for everyone. Such leaders help people throughout the organization develop systemic understandings. Accepting this responsibility is the antidote to one of the most common downfalls of otherwise gifted teachers — losing their commitment to the truth.

Leaders have to create and manage creative tension — especially around the gap between vision and reality. Mastery of such tension allows for a fundamental shift. It enables the leader to see the truth in changing situations. Peter Senge writes for practicing and aspiring managers and leaders.