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The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  33,683 ratings  ·  481 reviews
Completely Updated and Revised

This revised edition of Peter Senge’s bestselling classic, The Fifth Discipline, is based on fifteen years of experience in putting the book’s ideas into practice. As Senge makes clear, in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage is your organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. The leadership stories in the b
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Crown Business (first published 1990)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Peter M. Senge

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Peter M. Senge 1990) is a book by Peter Senge, focusing on group problem solving using the systems thinking method in order to convert companies into learning organizations.

The five disciplines represent approaches (theories and methods) for developing three core learning capabilities: fostering aspiration, developing reflective conversati
Neelesh Marik
This book is of biblical importance to any 'systems thinker' and/ or a life long learner, specifically in a organizational context as opposed to a lone ranger situation.

The book traces the endemic learning disabilities that plague most organizations, expounds on the fundamental laws of the fifth discipline, and describes typical ‘system archetypes’ that constitute dysfunctional patterns which impede performance.

Upon that foundation, it goes to describe each of the five disciplines: personal mast
Jack Vinson
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: km
This book isn't so much a knowledge management book as a tome on management philosophy. Senge has a lot of great ideas and thoughts throughout the book. There is the concept of leaders advocating vs. inquiring. The “what I say vs. what I do” idea of Espoused vs. In-use theories. The heart of the book is centered on five characteristics (disciplines) that organizations need in order to move into the next level of quality and competition. 
I. Systems Thinking. This is the ability to see the pattern
Jurgen Appelo
Good ideas, but far too much stories and quasi-philosophical fluff. Could have been edited to one third of its size.
Amanda Brinkmann
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Senge, along with Ackoff and Flood, are some of the great minds in the field of systems thinking and complexity. This book and the full integration and understanding of its content into Leadership and Organisational practice, should, in my opinion, be compulsory. The Learning Organisation is not some pie-in-the-sky, futuristic concept - it is a necessity in respect of Transformation so as to still exist as an organisation, given the rapid change, uncertainty and increased complexity that we live ...more
Sep 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Rarely would I use this term to describe anything but the good book itself but here goes..."this book is the bible for any leader/manager".

Or maybe a better description would be "the canon", since it is a definitive work but one, as by the theme of the book suggests, that can and should be improved upon.

The book is both frustrating and refreshing for the same reason - it doesn't try and present it's ideas in an "easily" replicable framework. Though an outlined framework or step-by-step process/v
P. Lundburg
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not going to write a formal review on this one, but it's worthy of a couple of comments. I'm generally not a fan of business-success books, but Senge's observations about organizations and how they function--and can function better--is honest and spot on. The Learning Organizations are those that see the greatest success, and largely because their leaders cultivate an appropriately humble approach to mission fulfillment. Everybody, including top leaders, are part of the organization: they ar ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Years ago I wrote ". . . I have historically struggled a great deal with reading business-oriented books. And why is this? To begin with, most business books feel terribly pretentious, even if the authors aren't in reality that way." The Fifth Disciple was a reminder of what I wrote that. Although not devoid of value or practical use, The Fifth Discipline is an overly long book, which forces the reader to slog through pages and pages of banal explanations to dig out specks of useful wisdom.

Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Helene by: Wyllis Terry
Though this is NOT an easy read, it IS a must-read for everyone in a leadership position, and that really does include teacher-leaders. I think I started it four or five times before I was able to finish it. I would pick it up read a few chapters and then drop out. I'd pick it up again, start over, and then drop out again. It was Wyllis Terry who finally said, don't start it over, just keep reading from where you left off which allowed me to finally finish it. I'm glad I did. It is such a basic ...more
Morgan Blackledge
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Author Peter Senge’s classic treatise on the composition of ‘learning organizations’ i.e. organizations that change adaptively in response to problems and based on collaborative insight and shared values.

The five disciplines are:

1. Personal Mastery, entailing honest reflection and evaluation for the purpose of identify individual and organizational shortcomings, strengths, needs and goals.

2. Mental Models, referring to explicit understanding of our otherwise implicit personal and organizationa
Jul 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Stumbled upon a copy this week and decided to re-read. I found it more enjoyable now than I did when I read it the first time, perhaps because systems thinking has become such a core part of what we discuss in our company and with our clients.

Most of the texts that I read on systems thinking when I was in school and even today are written in a very 'smarter than you' tone; I think that one of the greatest features of this book is that its choice of language is very accessible.

I think that ther
Sri Shivananda
In continuing to learn about systems thinking, I picked up this book as a recommendation from a colleague. Peter writes about the fifth discipline - systems thinking. The other four being Shared vision, mental models, personal mastery, and team learning. Good lessons on mindset shift, identifying patterns that control events, a culture of commitment vs. compliance, creating a learning organization, and more.
Ali Sattari
Nov 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, development
Well, I listened to the abridged version (unknowingly at first), I think I should at least partially reread the unabridged version. Points on mental models and systems thinking are useful and to the point.
Oct 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Why this Book: I had read most of this book about 10 years ago, and it really appealed to me – it’s easy to read, but it’s long and entailed. I was invited to participate in a reading group discussion of the book with the Cleveland Indians, and agreed – which meant reading it again – just a couple of chapters at a time and then discussing. Very worthwhile.

Summary in 3 sentences: In The Fifth Discipline Peter Senge describes a vision of what he calls a “learning organization” and offers a number
Bob Wallner
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I remember when I got out of my undergraduate studies in the early 1990s the buzzword “Learning Organization” was all in fashion. At the time there were a lot of discussions around making our organization a learning organization to compete with the Japanese.

We didn't have a good understanding of what was happening with the Japanese invasion, so we played whack-a-mole trying different things to see what worked. Within a couple of years “Learning Organization” was not talked about much other than
Nov 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
It's a management book that is about 150 to 200 pages too long. In the passages, the late in the book passages, which could be moving or inspirational, Senge has to muck them up with his own take on things rather than leave it to the experts. Kudos to him for briefly exploring women's management styles and positing that they are worth reviewing because there are so many examples of good managers who happen to be women. The books and people he quotes from are people that I like, and the discussio ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you have always had the feeling that there is something wrong with your organisation/institution and you have been unable to define it; if you have not found the right language to describe the ills; if you have always wanted to draw a larger and clearer picture of the workings of the organism that your organisation is, but never found the right brush - look no further, this book is the answer.

This is not one book that you can read and put away in a couple of days. It is going to be tedious l
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely exceptional concepts, and remains a must read for anyone who wants to understand fundamentally important concepts such as organizational learning, systemic approaches (that overtly recognize how processes/actions/sub-systems cause circular impacts) and how to take steps toward related improvements.
Nay Keppler
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The densest of the dense. Some good takeaways, but not very accessible.
Omar Halabieh
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
The main premise of the book is best summarized by the author in the opening chapter: "The tools and ideas presented in this book are for destroying the illusion that the world is created of separate, unrelated forces. When we give up this illusion—we can then build "learning organizations," organizations 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 w ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The committed person doesn’t play by the rules of the game. He is responsible for the game. If the rules of the game stand in the way of achieving the vision, he will find ways to change the rules.”

I expected systems thinking to be more specific collection of principles (maybe they are in some other fundamental book about them) but it's mostly about common sense. The discussions about creating vision resonated in this book - you cannot define vision in a managers workshop, vision is defined th
Stefano Zanella
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This has been a longer run than expected, almost an ultra marathon. The book is so dense of information I had to stop several times to connect the dots and reflect. But sticking to it has been very much worth it. The last two parts are full of inspirational stories and ideas that lifted my mood instantly.
I've been looking into systems thinking previously, but here the discipline is put into a larger context in order to provide a framework for structuring change without the traditional command-an
Trevor Melsheimer
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021-books
Nearly three years ago I asked a family friend, Duane, what his favorite or most-recommended book was. He said The Fifth Discipline. I glanced at its contents and felt it was a book for CEOs, project managers, and leaders building businesses. I was wrong...

This is a book about systems thinking, learning organizations and disciplines, personal development, and the foundations for sustainable growth in any organization or system. It provides a thorough introduction to the framework and tools nece
عدنان عوض
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another Audiobook from Audible, and Another essential read in my journey with Systems Thinking.
Peter Senge is a new name to me, and I'm surprised how this figure is unknown to me before.

Despite the complexity of the ideas in the book, I found them easy to grasp and follow, the reason for that is my previous readings on the field. However, it is a MUST, to reread and revisit.

strongly recommended.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it liked it
It is enormous and, at times, too much. But there are great nuggets of thought here, things which incite future action and discussion. It definitely serves more as a reference material than a book that should be read through from cover to cover.
Achi Arjevanidze
May 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business-economy
Boring and useless
How do you instill personal motivation and vision? In yourself and in your employees? How do you create a learning organization?

Why I started this book: Professional Reading title that was under 5 hours.

Why I finished it: This book was too long, and it was very dated.
Diana Suddreth
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's the classic book on leadership. I took notes. The bottom line is that leading takes a systems approach and sometimes the obvious "solution" will actually create more problems than solve them. ...more
Teri Temme
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Put into words some of the things I’ve seen and wondered about. I want to explore this topic more.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it
it was okay. Some nice nuggets and examples but not as fulfilling as I had hoped. Commitment vs compliance, enrolling vs being sold both excellent concepts. also enjoyed the pattern of the beer game.
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Peter M. Senge is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants dedicated to the "interdependent development of people and their institutions."
--from the author's website

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