The fifth discipline and individuals
As for the book, it aims to create a set of indications of necessary elements existing on “Learning Organizations”. The author defines the necessity of organizations to be flexible and also absorb instead of outputting information only. Systemic thinking is well explored concept and in the book denominated “a discipline that sees the whole scope”. A set of general principles that are only possible to be implemented by a change in the mentality of the individuals that are part of the corporation. When well understood and elucidated, this concept increases the individual perception of the responsibility of actions not being purely consequence of an individual but a group.
The importance of adopting these concepts is expressed very clearly by the necessity of change and constant adapting. The arguments presented to enhance the applicability of the theory are related to the increase in overall satisfaction and efficiency throughout the organization. Similarly to most of the business books written nowadays, the author also create several concepts and denominations and again, similarly to most of the business books written nowadays, those concepts are always being backed by “extensive research”. Most of these names created are related to normal processes and procedures, part of the working life of any corporation environment. That single aspect might make the reading exhaustive and require memorization for random concepts applied to random processes.
The book has its relevance especially by mentioning the individual aspect and its impact on the corporation. Most of the organizations are seen as an operating body and its composition of procedures and processes are normally attributed to its administrative scope. What the books elucidates clearly is that those actions and procedures are performed by individuals, therefore the understanding of the individual within the organization is essential.
The main concepts developed through the book are the disciplines:
- “Personal mastery is a discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively”
This concept presented in the book has been extensively researched previously. When analyzing the studies (mainly) of Peter Drucker, it is possible to see for one of first times, the importance given to the individual aspect of organizations.
- “Mental Models, are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures of images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action”
It is very important to take those assumptions and understandings in consideration when having a working life. Especially when working on an international environment, the tendency of individuals to behave, think and act differently is highly increased. Workers should have the understanding and perception to realize those differences and live with them.
- “Building shared vision – a practice of unearthing shared pictures of the future that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance”
Building a shared vision could be putted into different words by building the sense of community within the organization. For this to be achieved, it requires the employees to have a high level of understanding of all the underlying process within the organization. Quality management is an important asset within organizations, once the processes and procedures are mapped, it is extremely easier for the employees to have a bigger picture of the functions and even on the working of the organization as a whole.
- “Team Learning starts with dialogue, the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine thinking together.”
The ability of not only provide valuable output but also understand and absorb valuable input. Team learning is extremely valuable for organizations for several obvious reasons.
- “Systems Thinking- The Fifth Discipline that integrates the other four.”
It is almost a biological view of an organization. As if the whole operation aspect of an organization could be viewed as a living being, where all the departments are performing functions for a common good and common goal. This interconnection within the organization as mentioned on the book is an incredible asset and the future of learning organizations.