The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Annotation for The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Senge P.M. 2006. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.


Outlines the core disciplines for creating and maintaining learning organizations.

Geographic Focus: 


Key Findings: 

The ideas presented in this book, many of which were considered radical when first published in 1990, have become firmly integrated in many areas of organisational management. In the introductory pages, Senge discusses his introduction to Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a pioneer in quality management. Deming’s ideas are foundational to this book , which include an understanding of complexity and a systems approach for supporting core learning capabilities for teams. Other aspects make up the other core disciplines needed for this core learning, and include aspirational elements such as personal mastery and shared vision, as well as reflective conversations involving mental models and dialogue. Senge identifies a number of basic elements which undermine the capacity for organisations to become effective learning organisations. Top-down systems of command-and-control are central to these limiting factors.


Although some of the concepts in this book are becoming more widely accepted, elements that are considered to be largely responsible for undermining organisational capacity for learning are nonetheless still prevalent. Based on his own work and through conversations with Deming, Senge believes that the systems of education established at an early age tend to reinforce ineffectual organisational learning. These approaches have become mainstreamed and include: management by measurement; creating a culture of compliance; generating the “right answer;” creating uniformity and “solving the problem” of diversity; predicting and controlling; creating competitiveness and distrust; and fragmenting management (and in so doing, losing the whole). These issues are still highly relevant to issues faced by adaptive learning organisations today.