Senge P.. 1990. The leader’s new work: building the learning organization. Sloan Management Review. Fall


Describes the new role of leaders in the learning organisation

Geographic Focus: 


Key Findings: 

Senge asserts that organisations in which the top thinks and bottom acts must give way to integrating thinking and acting at all levels to face the complexity of the modern world, given that superior performance requires superior learning. Rather than focussing on problem solving, he suggests that creative tension can generate learning, i.e. where a vision and reality and juxtaposed. In order to achieve this, he suggests that the roles of leaders should be: • Designers: facilitating a common purpose, vision and values and creating policies to translate these into action, and facilitating learning processes • Teachers: guiding and facilitating others within an organisation • Stewards: nurturing the learning process in an organisation in order to achieve its vision Senge suggests this requires new skills (developing a shared vision, surfacing and testing mental models (e.g. how we actually act vs how we think we act, uncovering defensive routines), and systems thinking. Ne then describes some tools to help managers achieve this.


Senge’s focus is on the individual within the organisation. He shows the skills and roles required at senior levels that can help to achieve this. Theory about leadership is relevant to adaptive learning at the scale of organisations and networks. In particular, the contribution enables a focus on roles required to facilitate adaptive learning.