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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization Paperback – Deckle Edge, Mar 21 2006

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; REV edition (March 21 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385517254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385517256
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Forget your old, tired ideas about leadership. The  most successful corporation of the 1990s will be  something called a learning organization." --  Fortune Magazine.

From the Back Cover

"Forget your old, tired ideas about leadership. The  most successful corporation of the 1990s will be  something called a learning organization." --  Fortune Magazine.

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Format: Paperback
Thinking about how one thing affects another either comes naturally to you or it doesn't. For most people it is the latter. For these people, The Fifth Discipline is a wonderful gift. Our emotions tell us to do one thing, and that one thing is usually not in our own best interest. I had heard clients of mine talk about the beer game, and I was delighted to see it described in this book. For the average reader, this book will make you expert enough in systems thinking to be much more successful with your decisions. If you feel that you would like more help in this area, please read The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. It is a very helpful companion book that will give you practical advice for implementing what you learn in this book. If you have colleagues or friends who often make decisions that do not turn out well, it may be because they do not understand how to think about business as a system. Give them this book, and you will have done the person a great favor. Follow-up by discussing what they have learned, and help them with an exercise or two from the Fieldbook. You'll be glad you did.
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A very practical and humanistic approach to understanding the realities of life and the systems that influence circumstances. Knowledge of systems thinking influences a much broader perspective and instills compassion. It allows one to take a step back and see 'what is going on' instead of 'who is to blame'. An excellent book that will fortify the leader and strengthen leadership decision making in any capacity. A MUST read for all leaders.
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This really captures the essence and potential of organizations. We usually "dissect" organizations in to functions, assets, resources, etc. But this work recognizes that organizations are much more than the sum of their components.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa238f618) out of 5 stars 225 reviews
148 of 152 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2383be8) out of 5 stars Where can I find a learning organization? Sept. 12 2006
By Graham Lawes - Published on
Format: Paperback
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. Global business and global development are transforming everything. Organizations will have to adapt or they will not survive. Only vital, living organizations will manage to sustain themselves -- and the vitality they need will not be created by accident, it will have to come from mastery of the five disciplines of the learning organization.

Senge's work is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how to design, build, and sustain -- or even work in -- a learning organization. It may not be the only answer, and the ideas are certainly hard to put into practice, but the experiments are encouraging. There is a better way of working, and the ideas in this book will help us find it.

Graham Lawes
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa27bcce4) out of 5 stars A Must-Read for Business and Life Aug. 11 2006
By Robin Mathias - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
123 of 145 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3b57bc4) out of 5 stars The Sixth Discipline Feb. 18 2008
By R. Redmond - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Fifth Discipline contains some great concepts which are very usable in the day to day management of an organization.

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.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa27baf54) out of 5 stars Insightful and Informative Book Oct. 19 2007
By Elijah Chingosho - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Fifth Discipline is a seminal book by the famous author Peter M. Senge. The book teaches the concept of the learning organization namely that the successful organization must continually adapt and learn in order to respond to changes in the environment effectively and therefore to grow and prosper. I have read the book a number of times and keep on referring to it as is filled with a lot useful knowledge and wisdom. System thinking and learning is critical to organisational growth and development in the present highly dynamic operating environment.

According to Peter Senge, "real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning"--powerful advice indeed from a real learning guru.

This revised and updated edition includes the thoughts and ideas of some successful practitioners, taking into account developments since the first edition was published about 15 years earlier. Do not be intimidated by the length of the book, over 450 pages, as it is very informative, insightful and interesting to read.

I recommend this book for individuals interested in understanding the nature of how organizations develop, how behaviours are formed, and how organizations achieve growth and augment their capabilities. You will learn how to improve the way your organization or department functions, how to review and improve systems and how to develop shared visions, create long term goals among other critical insights.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa27bcc24) out of 5 stars What Goes Up, then Comes Down Feb. 27 2013
By Andrew WhiteHatBear - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is one of those books that first inspires great optimism and then slowly the reader slides into the slump of despair. From a purely intellectual point of view, the explanation of team learning makes it obvious how this would benefit any company. However, the practical reality is that most organizational behavior is "coin-operated." For the past two decades, we front-line and middle managers have been rewarded mostly for "doing more with less" and meeting demanding deadlines by working many more than 40 hours per week. This increases productivity, to be sure, but there's rarely enough time or incentive to undertake team learning. In my opinion, only companies that uphold intelligence as a core value will have a hope of implementing the strategies in the book and reaping the rewards.