The Fift Discipline
The Fifth Discipline provides an opportunity to reconsider the capacity to learn as a team learning organization, where individuals work together, with the common goal of learning as a team. If you are reading this article you are probably a student at Proakatemia, and you unconsciously apply systems thinking. Companies that aim to develop a team learning organization understand that they must change the way they work, because oorganizations go faster, and our world becomes smaller. Because of that, humans should be at the center, to develop sustainable businesses.
In the book Senge differentiates between organizations that are competitive and those that are sustainably competitive i.e. those that know how to learn, as a learning organization. They understand how everything is interconnected: people, the ideas, the context, history, goals, and so on. A change in one area will cause ripples of change and reactions elsewhere, often in unexpected ways (MacFarlane, 2017). In this situation, it becomes fundamental to understand how others work rather than to know just our own job. Long-term business is developed by working with other parties, understanding them and accepting them.
Senge starts by presenting the “Beer Game”, with the difficulties of a complex system that doesn’t work correctly, demonstrating the negative impact on all parties that are dependent of this system. It shows how a structure can have a big impact on an individual’s behavior, when the focus is on their own interest (Academy, 2019). This little game shows how different parties are interdependent and should be awareness of others if they want to achieve their work. The interdependence is the key; i.e understanding how others are and what is happening to them, so you don’t get angry, because you don’t understand the situation, until the system works again. The final message of this game is: don’t focus in your own position, but always try to have a look on everything, having a clear full picture of the process; this is what we call system thinking. But I’ll be back to that later.
Senge cites five disciplines that a company should develop in order to have a true learning system:
- Personal mastery
- Building shared vision
- Method models
- Team learning
- System thinking
1.1 Personal mastery
“Quality of life is related to the nature of inspiration” (Senge, 1990). This quotation highlights the importance of inspiration in our lives. If engagement from team members in projects, then each member of the team should find a purpose in the project. You can create a purpose if you offer the team a shared vision. This can be as well at a professional or personal level.
1.2 Building shared vision (what do we want)
To build a shared vision in a team, you should ask to each member: “What do I really want?” Then everybody shares his personal vision, in order to find a shared vision. With a shared vision, people won’t do their job because they must do it and don’t really care about it. They’ll start doing something, because they really care; they do it because they know why they must accomplish a task. When you build a shared vision, you should try to make it as real as possible, using the power of seeing things as they really are. As in the story: “A Christmas Carol”, have a vision about what, how it is and how it will be. A shared vision can still change with the advancement of the team, so you must listen, over time, to others dreams, to show a common caring for the team in the long-term.
1.3 Method models
What kind of tools or practices could you implement in your company to give your teams the best team development possible? One valuable tool is “feedback”. Here is a definition: “From a managerial perspective, feedback is your evaluation of an employee’s work quality and performance, given to that employee. Feedback lets an employee know what they did right or wrong and gives methods to improve upon the tasks they didn’t complete or did incorrectly. Given in a positive manner, feedback is one of the key methods of developing an employee.” (MCCARTHY, 2019). There are different ways to give an effective feedback, but there are some rules you should always respect:
- Be specific, using concretes situations, so the person receiving the feedback can easily see the situation, using it as a concrete experience and imagine a way of improvement
- Be sincere, saying what you really think and not what others think
- Offer help, in order to show the person, you are giving feedback to, that you are there to help and not judge.
So, start giving feedback to help others changing and to show that you care about their performance and that you care about them, as humans.
1.4 Team learning
Team learning can be defined by three actions:
- Complex issues using the collective intelligence
- Operational thrust (as we’ve seen in “The five disfunctions of a team” by Patrick Lencioni, the thrust is the basis of an effective team)
- The role of team members in each team
When you respect these three different points in your organization, a shared vision will emerge, where individuals share their knowledge, to improve the team. It’s important that each member of the team know how to act to achieve the team goals.
One last thing that is important to have in a team learning, is dialogue. You must dissociate the dialogue from the discussion. The dialogue requests to listen everybody and understand true meaning. Dialogue does not intend to identify the best point of view, rather good conversation is sort, between two or more persons that are thinking together.
This will result in a proactive collaboration and support developing capacity, in everyone in the organization. Individuals learn more quickly and effectively as a focused group than they would on their own (MacFarlane, 2017).
1.5 Learning Organization
This is the discipline of appreciating that individuals, polices, organizations, decisions and relationships, are all interconnected elements in a larger context (MacFarlane, 2017). Has Peter Senge says: “Have fun and you’ll learn as you go”; start creating with your team, by learning how to work in a different way. Then redesign how work works for your team. This will help you to build a safe environment to have an optimal learning, creating a community. It means that people can contribute, carrying about each other’s, to create what they want to create.
“Systems thinking is a sensibility for the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character” (p.69). Once you’ve understood this way of working, and know that it’s perpetually changing, you’ll be able to have an efficient team. Your team will be able to work, help and understand each other for a common goal. This takes time but you won’t regret it!
2 Cited work
Academy, S. C. (2019, June 7). About the Beer Game. Récupéré sur Supply Chain Academy : https://www.supplychain-academy.net/beer-game/?locale=en
MacFarlane, M. (2017). The Fifth Discipline in Three Minutes.
MCCARTHY, D. (2019, September 2). Skills. Récupéré sur The balance careers: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/good-and-bad-examples-of-feedback-2275923
Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline . Currency.
Supply Chain Academy. (2020, February 7). Beer Game. Récupéré sur Supply Chain Academy: https://www.supplychain-academy.net/beer-game/?locale=en