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THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE


Peter Senge, 1990
(Currency and Doubleday, New York), 1990

Bottomline: If you don't have time to read the book, then read this outline. If you don't have time to read this outline, then read the notes included at the end of this packet. If you don't have time to read the notes at the end of this packet you are too busy!

Note: no notes or packet are included in the Air War College copy of this review.

I hope this helps get us on the same sheet of music concerning a learning organization.

Note: Figures shown in parenthesis ( ) indicate page numbers in the book.

1. THE BOTTOM LINE

2. WHAT DOES THE BOOK SEEK TO DO?

3. HOW DOES THE AUTHOR MARKET HIS BOOK?

4. HOW DO WE KNOW IF OUR UNIT HAS A LEARNING DISABILITY?

5. THE DISCIPLINES OF THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION

6. THE LAWS OF SYSTEMS THINKING

7. HOW TO BUILD THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION

 

The Five Disciplines


The Seven Learning Disabilities

  1. I am my position. Over time, people in organizations develop intense identification with their position--who they are is what they do. This leads to a myopic and nonsystemic view of the organization, where we no longer see how our actions affect the rest of the system.

  2. "The enemy is out there." A by-product of the "I am my position" mentality. When we think of who we are as the position we play or the job we do, then if things go wrong we imagine that somebody out there "screwed up." With a very narrow sense of self-identification, it becomes natural to think of people outside and around us as enemies.

  3. The illusion of taking charge. All too often "pro-activeness" means "I'm going to get more active fighting those enemies out there." If we believe the enemy is "out there" and we are "in here," pro-activeness is really reactiveness with the gauge turned up 500%. True pro-activeness comes from seeing how our own actions contribute to our problems.

  4. Flotations on events. We are conditioned to see life as a series of events, and for every event, we think there is one obvious cause. The irony is that the primary threats to our survival--both in organizations and globally--come not from events but slow, gradual processes.

  5. The Parable of the Boiled Frog. We are very good at reacting to sudden threats to our survival, but we are very poor at recognizing gradual threats. This is analogous to a frog that will sit in a pot of water and let itself be slowly boiled to death because it doesn't perceive any immediate danger.

  6. The delusion of learning from experience. We learn best from experience--from trial-and-error experiments--but we never experience the results of our most important decision. The most critical decisions made in organizations have systemwide consequences that stretch out over years or decades.

  7. The myth of the management team. Most teams operate below the level of the lowest IQ in the group. The result is "skilled incompetence"--teams of people who are proficient at keeping themselves from learning.

 Pages 17-26

Discipline 1

Personal Mastery

Personal Growth and Learning

 

Discipline 2

Mental Models

Our Internal Images of How the World Works

Pages 174-201

 

Discipline 3

Shared Vision

A Common Caring

Possible Attitudes Toward a Vision

Pages 219-220

Guidelines for Enrollment and Commitment

Pages 222-223

Discipline 4

Team Learning

Thinking Together


Discipline 5

Systems Thinking

The Integrating Skill That Fuses the Others Together

 

Key Skills for Future Leaders:




Reviewed by LTC MIKE KIRBY

Last updated: November 06, 1998