Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines

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1.0 Introduction

Peter Senge was born in 1947, and he graduated in an engineering Stanford and then undertake a Master in Social Systems modelling at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and after that he completed his PhD on Management (Mark,2001). According to Peter Senge , learning organizations are “ Organizations where people continuously expand their capacity to create the results they really want , where expanded and new patterns of thinking are developed, where collective goal is set free, and where people are continuously learning to see the whole together”.

The basic needs for such organization is that in situations of continuous change only those are adaptive, flexible and productive will succeed. In order for this to happen, organizations need to find out how to get people’s capacity and commitment to learn at all levels. According to Peter Senge, learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human, and be able to re-create. This applied to both organizations and individuals. For a learning organization it is not enough to survive and “adaptive learning” is important and necessary. But for a learning organization, “generative learning” must be joined with “adaptive learning”, learning that enhances the capacity to create (Mark,2001).

The dimension that differentiates learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines. The five that Peter Senge identifies to be leading to innovative learning organizations are:

(a) Systems Thinking
(b) Personal Mastery
(c) Mental Models
(d) Building Shared Vision
(e) Team Learning (Mark,2001)

2.0 The Usefulness of Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines As a Tool in Helping Managers

(a) Systems Thinking

It is an idea of the learning organization developed from a body of work called systems thinking. This is a conceptual framework that allows managers to educate their employees to study businesses as bounded subject. Managers use this method when assessing their company and have information systems that measure the performance of the organization as a whole. Systems thinking relate that all the characteristics must be possible at once in an organization for it to be a learning organization. If some characteristics go missing then the manager will have a hard time to make the organization achieve its goal (Boydell,1999).

(b) Personal Mastery

Personal mastery is when an individual or an employee is committed to the process. There will be a competitive advantage for the organization whose workforce can learn quickly compared to other workforce of other organizations. Individual learning is done through staff training and development but learning cannot be forced upon an employee who is not receptive into learning. Research has shown that most learning in the workplace is related rather than product of formal training. In that case, it is important for a manager to develop a culture where personal mastery is practised in daily life. A learning organization has been defined as the sum of individual learning, but there must be mechanisms for individual learning to be transferred into organizational learning (Boydell,1999).

(c) Mental Models

Mental models are the assumptions held by employees and organizations. These models must be challenged in order to become a learning organization. Employees tend to support theories which are what they intend to follow and theories-in-use are what they actually do. Similar to that, organizations have “memories” which preserve certain behaviours, values and norms. It is important for managers to replace confrontational attitudes with open culture that promotes inquiry and trust. In order to achieve this, the learning organization needs mechanisms for locations and assessing organizational theories of action. Unwanted learning needs to be rejected in a process called “unlearning” (Boydell,1999)

(d) Shared Vision

Shared vision is...
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