Essay on The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge

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The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge

In his book The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge emphasizes his model of a "learning organization," which he defines as "an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future." A learning organization excels at both adaptive learning and generative learning.

Senge describes five disciplines that are necessary for a learning organization. "Learning organization" is a catchphrase covering the ideal of an organization built on vision, teamwork, openness, flexibility, ability to act under changing conditions, and so forth and so on. It is an organization where people don't just promote their limited region and privileges, but where they take risks and
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Going beyond simply holding on to one's beliefs as conclusive, examining which models one is actually operating on. Personal mastery means working on developing one's vision, one's abilities, and one's focus of energy on a personal level. It is a divine inner drive to practice mastery, to be the best that one can be. Systems thinking is the fifth discipline. It is the ability and practice of examining the whole system on a regular basis, rather than just trying to fix certain problems. It is also using the conceptual framework and tools of systems thinking to clarify the full patterns and to understand how to effect the most change.

Senge's five components of a learning organization all work together. Personal mastery, shared vision, team learning, and mental models lay the groundwork for the organization. And systems thinking is the glue that makes it together. In order for the learning organization to work, each of the five disciplines must be developed at the same time and incorporated with one another.

Applying Senge's model to the typical corporate mission of "increasing shareholder value" is perceptive. The Fifth Discipline calls this vision limited, since it does not consider what leads up to the increase in shareholder value. The typical corporate mission limits the organization's thinking to only one part of a problem. As an example, Senge states
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