Fifth Discipline," authored by Peter Senge, is a book that deals with the concept of cultivating "learning organization." According to Senge, "learning organization" is a continuous process of learning, where each idea is continually developed and freed, and where people continuously learn from each other. This notion can be guided in building a successful "learning organization" with Senge's five discipline: personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. To demonstrate these disciplines, Senge tells real life stories in the book. Further, almost each chapter begins and ends with a quote from famous persons and friends of Senge.
Peter Senge's the "Fifth Discipline," converses the importance of a "learning organization." It presents new ways of management development. The book focuses on learning not just as individual process, but learning as an organization as well. Senge explains that "learning organization" is important because of the tough competition in businesses nowadays. To survive in the challenge of global economy, business organizations must adopt new learning approach. They must be knowledgeable and prepared in facing difficulties. To be able to accomplish this, organizations must learn from the expertise of their members.
Among the five disciplines, Senge suggests that the first three disciplines are intended for individual learning, while the last two disciplines are for organization or group learning. The book has five sections: the introduction, the fifth discipline, the core disciplines (the four disciplines), prototypes, and coda.
In the first section, Senge views that solutions to problems of an organization are easy to find.
Organizations have the control of solving difficulties with the help of every member. The important thing needed in this is the development of a higher level of communication within the group, a good interrelationship and interdependencies. Senge uses the concept of "the beer game" in this situation. In this example, Senge explains how the result of an individual's action, without considering the dynamics of an organization as a whole, can cause the problem. As in the beer game, to succeed is to support each member.
In the book, Senge wrote that "systems thinking" as a distinct discipline among the five disciplines. He emphasizes that "systems thinking" is a binding discipline that joins the other four disciplines. The five disciplines are explained as follows.
Personal Mastery. It is a continuous motivation for an individual to learn and deepen his visions. It drives an individual to achieve his goal through a continuous personal development.
Mental Models. It is the frame of our thinking. It holds our understandings and internal views of things around us and things that we encounter, which affect our behavior and thinking.
Shared Vision. It is the ability of committing to one goal where every individual strives for the same goal an organization would want to achieve.
Team Learning. It is the key learning unit in an organization in which the organization's goal is achieved through the joint learning and working process of individuals with different skills.
Systems Thinking. It is the cornerstone of Senge's view of a "learning organization." Systems thinking encourages us to view elements in a larger scale, to see the interrelationships and the functions of a complex systems.
What I Learned from the Book
Learning is oftentimes perceived as a process of individual and personal development
Once we achieved our need to learn, rarely do we think of sharing what we have learned to others. Usually, we are focused on accomplishing our individual responsibilities and never think of the impact our actions may bring to the group or organization that we belong. We are used to work in a conventional way, as a separate individual with specific tasks and roles to perform. Managers are thought of monitoring and assessing his members' performance, setting responsibilities, solving problems, and planning the goal of his organization. Members on the other hand must meet their responsibilities by working as a separate individual. It is very rare that we consider interrelationship and interdependencies on each other and to think the impact of each individual's actions on the group as a whole.
In Senge's Fifth Discipline, we are presented with new approach of management and organization process. We can derive that learning is not just about building skills and knowledge individually, but as a group of persons who share and strive for the same goal to the success of the organization they belong to. Senge stresses that organizational perception is essential and can provide an opportunity of a more constructed group working together, and not just as a group of separate individuals. This can be attained through improving relationships between members. Through interrelationship carried out with good communication, discussion, and sharing of ideas and knowledge, a group's capabilities can be maximized.
The book's main focus is on the idea of "learning organization" from which leaders may learn and realize the amount of effectiveness of the organization they are currently involved with. As part of the concept of "learning organization," Senge emphasizes the five disciplines essential towards a successful team building.
The efficiency and being of an organization depends on the individuals comprising it. Personal Mastery is the focus in vision and reality, whereby a creative tension is created to energize the individual in his goal. It is the foundation from which an individual continually develops and improves himself.
Personal Mastery plays an essential role to each individual of an organization. This is because effective individuals, with proper coordination as a group, can form an effective organization. According to Senge, people with such ability are more committed to their work. They have their own initiative of doing what they have to do in a job, and they have a deeper sense of responsibility. Somehow, personal mastery provides self-confidence and high-respect to oneself. It creates a feeling of believing oneself's ability.
Personal Mastery includes a few sub-elements that help in attaining one's improvement. First is the Personal Vision. It is the ability of being clear with reality. An individual must know what his goals are, what he wants to achieve, what he wants to do, and what he wants to become. He must be able to focus himself on the positive visions in life in order to achieve his goals.
The second sub-element of Personal Mastery is Commitment to the Truth. It is a process of understanding the meaning and reason behind every situation. It's not just looking at the occurrence of an event but understanding why such happened. Commitment to the Truth provides an increase in awareness and recognizing the structures of the underlying rationales.
The third element of Personal Mastery is Reason and Intuition. Reason and Intuition may sometimes achieve the same conclusion, however both differ in their practice. In a complex situation, one may rely on his intuition when providing a solution while one may perform careful reasoning before coming up with an answer. Intuition may not lead to right results because it merely depends on one's feeling of what may be right. It's dependent to the word "maybe." However, reason may take a lot of effort but using this is a more careful act than intuition. But, in some cases, it is very difficult to find the right procedure that reason cannot arrive to a solution. In such cases, there's nothing to rely on but intuition.
From the book, we can derive that Mental Models are the basis of our behavior. They are the forces that cause our conduct and actions. This is explained by Senge in one of his examples. If we perceived that "people are untrustworthy," then the possible actions that we may have on people are being distant and careful from them. However, if we do not perceive in such way, our behavior on people undoubtedly will be different than if we perceive that they are untrustworthy.
We must be careful with our mental models because they affect what we do. Two different people may see the same thing but may provide different impressions. If we will have the ability of questioning and studying our perceptions on everything, and knowing and learning if what we perceive are right, then we might be able to act properly. Reconsidering our perceptions is a process that may provide alternative views and may create positive outcomes.
It is not necessary that our perceptions be exactly in accordance to reality. As in the subject of arts, we accept the fact that there is more than one interpretation of an art subject. Varying criticisms may be rendered. These criticisms are actually based on perceptions, and each critic may have different opinions. Through the various literary criticisms, we may find where our personal response matches with other's thoughts.
In Senge's analysis of mental models, he suggests the Leaps of Abstraction and the Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy as sub-skills.
Leaps of Abstraction means taking the general perception in our observation. This is a normal employment of our brain. We often leap to the general views without reconsidering the other possibilities of our observation. Whenever we…