The Fifth Discipline Chapter 1

Topics: Toyota, Peter Senge, Organizational learning Pages: 7 (2586 words) Published: June 18, 2012
1) Define a learning organization.

According to Peter M. Senge, a learning organization is “an organization where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together”. It is an organization wherein there is continuous expanding of knowledge, people or businesses learning from one another and capacity to create for the betterment of its future. There should be continuous learning because time continues on going, not waiting for anyone, so we are the ones that should adapt to the changes occurring. To not be left behind in the business world, there should be adaptation and innovation, which would be a great competitive advantage. There are different reasons for the success and failure of businesses and one of the possible reasons for failure is that the company has become complacent and thought that they do not need to learn anything anymore, but that is wrong. A company should be ready to adjust to the whole business activity and also in the traditional operations. Senge believes that we are all learners and all we need to have a learning community is to be able to influence people to be committed and capable to learn at all levels. Senge proposes five disciplines and states that it is important that the five disciplines develop as a whole because having to integrate all the five disciplines would really be beneficial for all and for the success of the business. He acknowledged that it is challenging to integrate several things all at the same time considering that a single discipline is not easy for companies to begin and do with.

2) What are the 5 disciplines/characteristics of a learning organization? Discuss and give examples for each.

Peter M. Senge constructed a framework of five disciplines, which are Systems Thinking, Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Building Shared Vision and Team Learning. The framework, according to Senge, is not from him alone but from different research and studies he has done and his main inspiration is Dr. W. Edwards Deming. He realized that these five are what can summarize what is most important but he claims that it is an instrument for a start of understanding and helping organizations. A discipline is not something that can be learned overnight or just by reading because one should practice it and become a lifelong learner. Without practicing the discipline, one would not really learn the whole purpose and beauty of it.

Senge stated that, “Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer and to help us see how to change them effectively.” It is about observing the whole system, instead of concentrating on a complex individual because without a systemic orientation, there is no motivation to look at how the disciplines interrelate (Loof, 2004). Whatever we do or however we act there is really a consequence, which means that our actions would have an influence on the rest. Most of the time, the effects in others are not clearly visible since the consequences can occur in different time spans. Senge affirmed that businesses are bound by invisible fabrics of interrelated actions, which we should always keep in mind in doing businesses. There is a relation between companies, between stakeholders and between different departments in an organization. We should also look at the bigger picture since some individual actions only cater to the short-term needs that would have a negative long-term effect. Systems thinking is referred to as the fifth discipline because it integrates all the other disciplines, fusing them into a coherent body of theory and practice (Senge, 2006) and it is the “cornerstone that underlies all disciplines” (Loof, 2004).

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