The Fifth Discipline: Summary & Overview

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  • 0:04 The Fifth Discipline
  • 0:36 Central Theme
  • 1:04 Seven Learning Disabilities
  • 2:22 Five Disciplines
  • 3:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (1990) is a groundbreaking book by Dr. Peter Senge, which addresses the idea of a learning organization. In this lesson, we will provide a brief summary of the book and explore some of its key concepts. You will also be given an opportunity to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz.

The Fifth Discipline

The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization helped explain and popularize the concept of a learning organization. A learning organization seeks to facilitate and encourage learning at all levels of the organization in order to permit the organization to adapt continually and transform itself in a highly dynamic and completive world.

The author, Dr. Senge, is a Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management, where he lectures on leadership and sustainability. He is a founding member of the Society for Organizational Learning.

Central Theme

According to the book, it is no longer sufficient for an organization to rely upon just one person to learn for the organization. A successful business is one that can effectively develop the capacity for members to learn at all levels of the organization. A learning organization requires its members to be open to new ideas, be able to communicate effectively with each other, understand the organization, form a vision shared by all members and work together to achieve that vision.

Seven Learning Disabilities

Senge identifies seven learning disabilities from which an organization and its members suffer:

1. I am my position.

We often use our jobs as a proxy for our identity, often failing to understand the purpose of what we are doing for our organization; or, we perceive ourselves as having little power and no need to take responsibility.

2. The enemy is out there.

We fail to understand that external and internal problems are part of the same overall system.

3. Illusion of taking charge.

We often confuse reactive action as proactive when dealing with problems by focusing on outside threats instead of first determining how we contribute to the problem.

4. Fixation on events.

We are too focused on the short term, which prevents us from seeing long-term patterns of change that are the cause of the immediate events.

5. Delusion of learning from experience.

People seldom experience consequences of their decisions directly.

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