The Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge

The Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge

Build a successful company and get ready for the future! Apply the five disciplines to create commitment and motivate people to keep learning.

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With the book "The Fifth Discipline" Peter Senge teaches you how to make your company be, and remain, successful.

It's no longer enough to have one person learning at the organization. Solutions can't be found only in top management, at the possession of the "great strategist".

So, forget the old ideas about leadership. The most successful company of the 21st century will be the "learning organization", according to Fortune.

If you want to have a successful company, all employees have to learn. You have to encourage and motivate them to keep improving.

With a summary of Senge's teachings, this Pocketbook will help you apply the five disciplines. Check it out!

About the book "The Fifth Discipline"

"The Fifth Discipline", originally released in 1990, was again published by Doubleday on 21 March 2006.

Written by Peter Senge, the book shows the essential techniques for a company to achieve success.

It is one of his biggest sales hit, with a total of 445 pages and eighteen chapters, divided into five parts.

About the author Peter Senge

Peter Michael Senge, American born in 1947, is a writer and senior professor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), where he graduated in engineering and obtained a master's degree in Social Systems Models.

Among his successful works is The Fifth Discipline. Considered by the Harvard Business Review one of the most influential business books of the past seventy years.

To whom is this book indicated?

The book "The Fifth Discipline" shows people how the systemic view can change everything around us, involving personal and professional life.

Senge's work is an essential tool to be used in reorganization of a company. Through it, employees will develop their vision of management, making it broader.

Main ideas of the book "The Fifth Discipline"

  • Internal restructuring of a company;
  • By applying the five disciplines, a company will become successful;
  • An organization that learns will be prominent in the modern world. Forget the old ideas about leadership.

Peter Senge's book is filled with teachings and ideas on how to reorganize the company and the way its employees see the world. In the following overviews, we will emphasize some parts of the book.

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[Book Summary] The Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge

Overview: How Our Actions Create Our Reality... and How We Can Modify It

Peter Senge addresses the world and its relationships. He makes it clear that the world is made up of interconnected forces. From the moment we are aware of this idea, we can start building learning organizations.

An organization that can learn is a company that expands its power to create the future.

The company's employees constantly improve their ability to obtain the results they truly want. To Senge, organizations that learn are possible, because deep down we are all learners.

The five disciplines listed by the author are Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, Team Learning, and the fifth discipline, System Thinking.

It is fundamental to develop the five disciplines together, being the fifth is the one that connects all of them.

Currently, few organizations manage to stay in the market for a certain time. What happens is that many problems are left aside, the solutions adopted are not feasible and in the end, what was a trivial problem, ends up becoming a huge loss. Sometimes worse, the break is the only way out.

Before the company goes bankrupt there are ways to fix the problems. The author lists 7 learning disabilities. If organizations struggle against these shortcomings, listed below they will be closer to excellence.

  • "I am my position"

We tend to confuse our position with who we are, with our own personality. This makes people limited only in their activities.

  • "The enemy is out there"

It is when individuals try to blame an external agent for the mistake made;

  • "The illusion of taking charge"

People often mistake proactivity for reactivity. Proactivity is to understand what is our contribution to our own problems, while being reactive is making decisions only after the situation is out of control;

  • "The fixation on events"

Currently, the main risks to the well-being of companies are gradual and not immediate events. In order to maintain the learning of the employees in the long term, their mentality have to be long term too;

  • "The parable of the boiled frog"

Peter Senge makes it clear that in order to perceive the gradual changes, we have to slow down our work pace and pay attention around. It is necessary to pay attention to both the drastic and the gradual events;

  • "The delusion of learning from experience"

We usually learn from trial and error. However, what happens when we can not analyze the results of our actions? And when these actions are beyond the reach of our vision? Senge affirms that there is a dilemma in learning from experience because, even though we learn from it, we never experience directly the consequences of our most important decisions;

  • "The myth of the management team"

Have you ever seen a co-worker being awarded, not for solving urgent company problems, but for asking complex questions about the company's current policy? In the book "The Fifth Discipline", Senge says that companies reinforce the idea of rewarding the competent professionals who defend their points of view, instead of those who raise difficult questions. This leads teams to the "skilled incompetence" - when people hinder their own learning.

After identifying these disabilities, however small they may be, it's necessary to adopt countermeasures and eliminate them.

Overview: The fifth discipline: the cornerstone of the learning organization

What is System Thinking? Before clarifying this, there are some characteristics that limit its application, such as the culture of immediacy, selfishness, lack of vision, fear, individualism, among others.

Well, that's exactly where the first four disciplines come in, they serve as support for the fifth discipline. They are:

  • Personal Mastery: By increasing personal capacity, towards the desired results, the greater the likelihood of the company's employees, and the company itself, to engage people so that they can achieve their chosen goals;
  • Mental Models: Ask, modify, rethink, rearrange, reflect, and clarify how to continually improve the way you see the world. That way you will also shape your decisions;
  • Shared Vision: Creating a vision may be easy, but sharing it and engaging the team towards the future is certainly a challenge;
  • Team Learning: The individual talents of each employee should be added when they are part of a team, not the other way around. This is a great challenge for a leader.

Now that we have an idea of the four disciplines, let's talk specifically about the fifth one.

According to Peter Senge, System Thinking is the discipline that allows changing systems more effectively and acting in accordance with the processes of the natural and economic world.

It is the ability that an individual acquires to analyze the events and their possible consequences, in order to create a unique solution that meets the expectations of all parties involved.

The author reinforces in the book "The Fifth Discipline" that to build System Thinking, we need all four disciplines.

Because building a Shared Vision encourages commitment to the long term and Mental Models focus on the gap needed to reveal the limitations in our current ways of seeing the world.

Team Learning, in turn, develops the ability of groups to see the whole picture that is beyond individual perspectives. And Personal Mastery encourages people to keep learning about actions and consequences.

Finally, System Thinking makes understandable the subtlest aspect of the learning organization: the new way in which individuals see themselves and the world.

One of the things that limits the formation and improvement of the fifth discipline is when there is a high turnover rate of employees in the company.

Thus, with the company's loyalty compromised, the necessary continuity for the formation of systemic thinking is damaged. To solve this, it is essential to create a culture where people are continually learning and motivated to do so.

When companies understand this, they will have understood the essence of the last discipline.

What do other authors say about it?

Ed Catmull, author of the book "Creativity, Inc." advises: always give more preference to people than to ideas, because creative people create good ideas, but they can be destroyed by bad teams.

For John C. Maxwell, author of the "Leadership Gold" the best leaders are those who can listen. Listeners know what is happening because they pay attention. They learn better than others because they absorb from many places. Besides, good listeners have the ability to better see other people's strengths and weaknesses.

Finally, the book "Traction", by Gino Wickman, shows that successful entrepreneurs have an attractive and well-defined vision for their business. Also, they know how to communicate it to their employees. From this, a guideline is created to be followed by everyone within the organization.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

  • Building learning organizations is a gradual process. It's necessary to reformulate structures and help all employees to understand their role in the company, which is far beyond the activities they do;
  • Leaders should share their victories because it makes teams feel fulfilled in being part of a company that is capable of producing results;
  • The practice of learning starts with changes in old leadership ideas;
  • People's opinions are welcome and everyone has to understand the vision of the company, being able to see the big picture;
  • The five disciplines are the strategies of learning organizations. It's important to keep improving every aspect of them and eliminate disabilities.

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Book “The Fifth Discipline”