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How many of us here think the five disciplines as Peter Senge describes in his book refer to helping employees learn what we are training them at their workplaces as to what they should be doing? How many of us think it is not about such things? by Mind Map: How many of us here think the five
disciplines as Peter Senge describes
in his book refer to helping
employees learn what we are
training them at their workplaces as
to what they should be doing? How
many of us think it is not about such
things?
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How many of us here think the five disciplines as Peter Senge describes in his book refer to helping employees learn what we are training them at their workplaces as to what they should be doing? How many of us think it is not about such things?

Sheila Damodaran

Hmm ... Is it of managing or of learning? And if the latter, I guess the next question is learning what? Actually, I think it almost begs to ask, first, which one comes first?

I just realized Joseph that you'd introduced a term, the first discipline. I do apologize for going on without clarfiying first what that meant (for you) and in what ways did you see that relate to the (well so called Senge's) five disciplines (of Learning Organizations)? And what is it that you said "i do" to? Thanks in advance!

Yes, Bruce, Deming had an influence on Senge's works. That's true about the shifts. Any way to talk about the "new" system of management (i guess in my mind, management is management (old or new - it comes from my background being in the police for close to two decades as much as i was a civilian)? Thanks Joseph that was very helpful. Quick question. what does the first discipline refer to?

Yes. I do not attest the use of the five disciplines in wanting to help employees learn what we are training them at their workplaces as to what they should be doing. That would make the intent and practice being of this work exist as an oxymoron (not meant to exist always as a pair of words: e.g. Dark light, Living dead, New Classic, Old News, Open secret (supposedly a secret but it has leaked), Vintage Modern, Virtual reality). The work would come across as saying one thing but meaning (or doing) another. As @Gene this intention would be doing the very opposite of what Senge advocated. And if we are not quite working with the five disciplines, we may say we want to be a learning organization but not in ways as intended. I do like the Dance of Change. It helps to talk to the subject. Any weblinks Bruce that you have seen we could explore Drucker? I know this conversation is begging another question at this point. But let me pause here for now. (Note: the word discipline here is used to mean the consistency of practice needed to make it work)

Thank you everyone and I hear why most of us think it is not quite about boosting training so as to boost performance. I am not sure if this is happening, the rest do seem quiet (I am assuming we are reflecting) or if one had thought the five disciplines was about boosting training and performance, what was your view on their use in doing so? Or perhaps, in what ways has this question or conversation opened queries for you?

Thanks John for the question. Much appreciated. Using the five disciplines for training typically assumes that the thinking required for us to understand WHY we were not doing as well, was complete. The use of the five disciplines does not make that assumption. It would say, the thinking that the organization is not doing well because the individuals in it were not doing well, needs to be tested [team learning]. It is typically intended to help us understand why was the organization (not the individual) not doing as well as it needs to be. An example. Many healthcare systems for example say we are not able to service the customers (customer-service) since the management of the chain of supply of medication (PART A) is not happening as well. We therefore decide the chain needs to be reengineered, or refocussed or reorganized or standards raised or recalibrated or retrained. So we work hard at changing people's mindsets on levels of efficiency and pumping and pruning and building them to work as a team, etc. Team after team belts it out! A similar situation was seen here as well. What we also noticed was that the rate at which citizens were succumbing to critical illnesses (PART B) was increasing. Many of these rates were increasing at a rate faster than a chain management system was able to re-calibrate itself in time to supply. We could only determine this was happening when we were willing to step outside the chain to (learn and) understand the story beyond it [systemic thinking]. Given this, what did we (as an organization) needed to learn? The need to work faster (PART A) or what was causing the need (PART B) to have to work faster? PART A or PART B? Tongue in cheek, if we did not learn to figure out part B, the very people who were working hard at the supply chain management would soon find themselves falling ill (with diabetes, hypertension, cancer, etc.) and therefore joining the rest of us who were already haemorrahaging the supply chain system. They make worse (by working harder) the very system they were hoping would become better by their actions! Still, there was yet another learning waiting to happen. Yes? Why were more of us succumbing to critical illnesses? If we did not understand and deal with the gaspipe, be prepared to face a swelling deficit in fighting to put the fires out! No? My thought is, there is a much bigger learning that could have taken us further but we allowed ourselves to get busy looking for the needles and not checking if they were inside a haystack. We were forewarned as we learned these sayings as children up but we stuck ourselves out as adults to find the needles anyway! Too much wastes (time, resources, effort) has happened till yesterday and much more wastes are still waiting to happen tomorrow

Yes. And do not forget when the individual does not perform there are reasons beyond his hands and feet that gets in the way of his or her performance at the workplace, whether or not we care to want to see and learn about them

"there are reasons beyond his [or her] hands and feet" that gets in the way of his or her performance at the workplace: Examples: Some of you here since alluded to them (though John I am curious would hiring someone based on fit not mechanize those hands?) and it includes: * Organizations helping individuals carve for themselves personal visions that include visions of their organization (not only of their personal lives and not the hows but the what pictures) * Organizations helping individuals understand the systemic realities of the organization and of their lives * Organizations helping individuals shape and position their personal visions to fit with pieces of visions belonging to those of others within and outside the organization so that collectively they may see a picture much bigger than any one of them alone - this motivates them far beyond any efforts they would otherwise have applied on their respective visions. * Organizations helping individuals see the reality beyond ways the mind may have been set When these do not happen for the individual in his or her organization, they become reasons why someone hands and feet become tied up (the become deadwoods in the system) eventually. Just some examples for now (been a long day and I am noticing my mind is tired - I'm sure I'll come back to it again).

I had a good rest and I'n back! The disciplines of personal mastery, mental models and team learning and of course shared vision and systems thinking the way it was intended (some of what that may look like what I had outlined in my previous post here) are inconsistent with the command and control structures that prevail in typical organizations: It is possible we all see that. * Organizations helping individuals carve for ourselves personal visions that include visions of our organization (PERSONAL MASTERY not only of our personal lives (after 5 pm) and not the hows but the what pictures) * Organizations helping individuals understand the systemic realities of the organization and of their lives (SYSTEM(IC) THINKING) * Organizations helping individuals shape and position their personal visions to fit with pieces of visions belonging to those of others within and outside the organization. This is pretty much like the process of the jigsaw puzzle so that collectively we may see a picture much bigger than any one of ours alone could see. It is the understanding of the shared realities (SHARED VISION) around us that motivates us far beyond any efforts we could have otherwise applied on our respective visions. * Organizations helping individuals see the reality beyond ways the mind may have been set (MENTAL MODELS - we do not change mindsets, because we need them to help someone else who do not see it the same way to see (TEAM LEARNING) realities beyond their frames) The question I had held earlier here that was 'begging to be asked' was therefore what kinds of ways of leadering would allow some of these to happen? We know what it is not. It is not command and control. So what is it? .... .... so that employees are helping themselves to learn beyond what we are training them at our workplaces as to what we think they should be doing! There is more to Learning Organizations than meet the eye!

Senge's works I find is less so about enhancing an existing mechanistic system (like a manufacturing environment). But if it means the manufacturing systems find themselves working their way out of jobs (the more they are it, and sometimes demand for their product reduces with supply, [unless perhaps you are supplying beer / alcohol / cigarettes - in which you may never go out of business, I mean ... manufacturing]), then understanding these systemic implications could become an area of application of the five disciplines. Yes? No?

Could we try this again? "the application of Team Learning according to Senge in a manufacturing environment could be effective if positioned in alignment with the manufacturing strategy" (which interestingly btw was the question I'd used to start the ball in this discussion rolling) Is this something that you (and perhaps I am also speaking to many more of us within the group) remember reading / interacting specifically (if not, I suppose the question is, is this what we took away as our interpretation) about the discipline? We may be looking at pages 216-221 (of the new edition). When alignment was used it is also used hand-in-hand with words such as: 'functioning as a whole'; that individuals do not sacrifice their personal interests to the larger vision; rather the shared vision becomes an extension of personal visions; members create results that members truly desire. Team learning, is not either about individuals within a team each of them is learning 'to aim towards' the goal out there (the texts refers to as 'individual learning, at some level, is irrelevant for organizational learning'); there is a need for the team to think insightfully about complex issues; each team member remains conscious of other team members and can be counted on to act in ways that complement each others' actions. [Notice: if the words startegy appear within the texts]

Checking in John (and others feel free to check-in as well if this question resonates for you). Did Team Learning mean for you: Scenario I: Deciding the strategy and then later having the team work (and therefore learn (although I am curious if we had intended to mean somebody needing to teach (and therefore the proliferation of training / workshop programmes) so that others may learn) to reach it (I am assuming the strategy for a goal)? rather than Scenario II: Using team learning to help us in understand the reality (as a whole - which sometimes include looking beyond the organization) and then using the new understanding (of the reality) in deciding the strategy thereafter? [Significance of the latter: This therefore could mean, no further 'teaching' is required since we now see the individuals are striving to figure out the learning for themselves (having now understood the reality) to avoid worsening the reality further or to turn them around (the power of the strategy has now shifted from off the wall and into their hands)!]

(Smile. I should say thank you, John. Though I know I could not have gone there by myself!) That to me sounds like Scenario I. The bottom-line of Scenario I is essentially (one simple bottom) "I want to make money. (I know I also need others to help me get there.) If you want the same thing for yourself, then you are with me here (and you will be rewarded (or tamed) or else you are out (there)." Strategy or a plan is everything we do along the line (sometimes that's what we really intend when we say alignment up and down) as a means to get THERE. Scenario II does not start with a strategy! Of course, when there is a downfall with Scenario I (after every single effort to prop it up fails), we may turn our heads to Scenario II. Usually, of course, we jump the boat! And start all over again (with Scenario I).

@ Bruce # Mechanistic (refrence comes from 13 postings before this current posting): Yes, it includes what you'd suggested (automated / repetitive) And it also includes any part of the system that performs to calibration. For example, somebody sets a target and we spend the next week / month / quarter / year, working to reach that calibration (output levels, etc.). Most organizations, if they think it is not working as well, would say our performance measurement systems is not working well. That's mechanistic. This is as opposed to how most issues that organizations may be 'fighting' / competing or overcoming, are behaving. Many of them do not behave according to calibration. They are typically either increasing at an increasing rate (e.g. population, crime, corruption, CO2 emissions, expenditure, drug and alcohol abuses, traffic congestion, industries, inflation, etc.) or decreasing at an increasing rate (e.g. farming, crop production, customer interest in the product, revenue, etc.). Is this what you were asking about, Bruce? # Team Learning: ... that Team learning to me is about learning to work together. Yes, and more. It includes really learning to 'think' (rather than work) together. It is learning to see how one is seeing the world and how such seeing may be getting in the way of seeing and understanding the world out there or another point of view. Without getting past this learning (to think together), we would really not be able to shape the shared visions we (as a whole) could aspire to (rather than ensuring need for them to work towards it). If I have a vision, you do not need to ensure tht I'd get there. A vision would do that for me. Yes, including a Shared Vision. I would want to get there myself even before you lift a finger at me! If today, the vision is not doing that (inspiring) for me, and you need to lead me in with measurements and calibrations, that's not a vision. It is an obligation (target / goals / measures) that I HAVE TO get to rather than I WANT TO get to. One way we can tell the former is happening is the willingness to decide to lift all targets! Sometimes we would even say we would not dare do so, since often, we know nothing will happen / move. A calibration / measurement system and the five disciplines do not really need to go together. We could but .... ... if the five discipline are working as well as it could be, you could even do without a measurement system ... in such a (Learning) organization! We often would need to take the time needed to make the five disciplines tick for us. We usually do not and therefore we are trading security of what we know with realizing the potential of this work. [... in small letters .... I think I can almost hear John saying .... there she goes again! .... (smiling)]

Smile. An entry point to the practice I have found helpful is to start with the hard knocks of current reality (rather than the end) looking in particular for persistent or stubborn issues. These can act as doorways to understanding what's in the reality tht is keeping the reality where it is and stopping us to reach where we want to become. That is the role systems thinking and we can map causality on to a trend graph and match it to a tee to reality so that we could actually see them unfolding before our eyes (in the reality). I have seen their applications to undertanding water shortages, HIV prevalence, economic diversification, land uses, wildlife conflicts, wildfires, crimes, crop production, traffic accidents, divorce rates, .... almost anything. At some level, the practice of the disciplines may look difficult (smile even utopiac) but it is intended to face reality smack on not just by oneself but as a whole. So question is, why would when it can be as grounded as it can get to be, would our experience of it lead us to say it is difficult to reach the state?

Gene Dundas

I think that the Senge's five disciplines- personal mastery, shared vision, mental modes, team learning and systems thinking may indeed help employees learn what we intend them to learn. However, this intention would be doing the very opposite of what Senge advocated. His concept of the Learning Organization, in my estimation, was not intended to be controlled but rather to be exploratory, wide and broad, would add value to the work of the organization but not confined to what the managers think is necessary to learn through training

Bruce McNaughton

@Sheila ...'helping employees learn what we are training them at their workplaces as to what they should be doing?' I've been on an interesting journey looking at various management practices and system thinking. I was pointed to Deming's book 'The New Economics'. Where I started to understand his 'System of Profound Knowledge'. I started to realize that the purpose of the 'System of Profound Knowledge' was to help people with the tools and understanding of how to move from the 'prevailing system of management' to a 'new system of management'. Deming does not really describe the new system of management (just hints). After reading Deming's book, IMHO, I felt a new understanding of the Five Disciplines. These now felt like Five Disciplines people needed to learn and practice to transition in the same way from the 'old system of management' to a 'new system of management'. These were the foundation the organization needed to 'manage in a new way'. They are not the new way to mange. Today, I re-read the preface to the revised edition of the Fifth Discipline. I believe it confirms what I found. I believe these are disciplines help every employee to transition to a new way of thinking and working together (mental models, shared vision). to allow the 'new system of management to appear'.. I still see that people will still need different knowledge ('how to' about a specific job or work) ... however, learning will be easier, people will be able to 'see' improvements, they will be able to 'communicate' and 'listen' more effectively, and alignment of contribution of individuals and managers will be easier... etc. @Joseph... I feel that compartmentalization of knowledge is not necessarily a bad thing .. specialist knowledge can be useful... if it is maintained with the spirit of the five disciplines and it is improved based upon real usage and vision. (I attempt to help managers who own Business processes to use these disciplines this way). Even within a single discipline there may be different views that represent rigid mental models. This is the challenge of the 'single right answer' or 'my answer is right' rather than a dialogue to explore and value other viewpoints. Improvements can be very effective if the five disciplines are used effectively.. Sorry for rambling ... I now see things a bit differently - and I really value the five disciplines. And people (at all levels) who use them effectively

@Sheila 'Any way to talk about the "new" system of management '.. In my recent journey, I have re-read some old Peter Drucker management books ... IMHO they are still very relevant today. The 1974 book is very holistic.. What I'm finding today is a 'GAP' between the Theory (Drucker and other best practice approaches) and the actual implemented practice. This gets back to your question ... how the five disciplines help with training / learning in the work place to support effective implementation. The 'Dance of Change' has a very useful 'System Model' to help with change. I dip into this book when I sense a problem. I have also been using a similar model to help understand 'Management Systems' to show the interaction of best practice, training, implementation, assessment, etc. This has helped me see the loops and blocks. So, I tend to agree ... I believe a lot of 'good management practice' has been around for a while. There are some underlying problems that are making it difficult for this practice to emerge ... many of the challenges are in 'The Dance of Change' ... some are in Drucker's books. Today, Drucker's concerns are getting much more visible .. unfortunately

@Michele ... I agree the managers have an important role to play and need to really see the cost of the churn... I went through an experience early in my career as a manager where we were introducing a new process across a number of organizations ... we hired a training organization to help ... they took our ideas and packaged the messages into a coherent flow and then refused to provide instructors ... they indicated it was the managers job to teach the materials. By having the managers invovled, our implementation time reduced dramatically ... we were also able to coach the instructors (managers) to not provide answers when they did not know and listen when people had a question ... we also investigated every problem people raised until we had confidence the process was working. I have recently found Peter Drucker's activities of a manager ... these are: Planning, Organizing, Resourcing, Integrating, Measuring, and Developing People. Maybe developing people is more than sending people to training..

@Sheila ... "there are reasons beyond his [or her] hands and feet" Can you give some examples?

@Sheila ... 'mechanistic system' Could you clarify 'Mechanistic'... if you mean 'repetitive' or highly automated, there are actually many parts of an organization that meet this criteria ... think of a 'call centre'. However, I think your example does indicate that the disciplines do apply in these cases. Job Design and Job Enrichment also apply to these areas too as people need meaningful jobs in these situations .. and there are some positive ways to do this. So my conclusion is that where there are people working in one or more teams, the five disciplines apply. I also now see a team as a fundamental unit within an organization. A team has a manager and team members or is self managing. So actually the alignment of the contribution of all of the teams to the overall vision (mission / purpose) is very important

@Sheila ... "Did Team Learning mean for you" Team learning has always meant for me 'the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts'. I played a lot of team sports where an individual looking after their own self interest can reduce the overall results of the team. So Team learning to me is about learning to work together ... be authentic, communicate, practice in a safe environment, talk about issues, understand where people are coming from, check assumptions and ensure everyone is working towards the shared vision ... assuming there is a shared vision (another discipline). (NOTE: I'm in learning mode ... this is the first time I've shared my understanding). I also see a planning process (like Hoshin Kanri) as a separate practice that aligns the contributions of teams across the organization. (this is like Management by Objectives a similar process). (aligning Objectives / Strategies). This goes with the approach to organizing or forming teams and establishing their initial purpose (mission / vision). The processes above are much more effective if the five disciplines are also being used. ... so orchestras practice, sports teams practice, etc before they perform. Where do people in teams in organizations get to practice? Training?

John Fleming

Shelia, an interestingly worded question. It had never occurred to me that the five disciplines (5D) were related to training in the sense of “helping employees learn what we are training them at their workplaces as to what they should be doing”. A thought provoking question. And, by intention or not, addresses the discussions in HR circles for “creating Learning Organizations” which as others have also indicated building a Learning Organization is transformational rather than transitional. What was your thought process in drafting the question in the way that you did? I’m interested in your answer, and while waiting for the reply, will add thoughts to the discussion. My perception is that the 5D's are cultural as in the “way” we do things or “How” information is processed rather than “What” is done; The decisions and choices related to “what” may be enhanced as a result of the 5D approach and a culture that facilitates learning, coaching and the freedom to fail. Hence, 5D in my world is a framework around which to build a culture to encourage and guide behavior that can shape learning in the organization to facilitate, trust, agility, flexibility and freedom to act based on individual and collective perceptions of changing circumstances. It is not the “what” one does at their workplace...it is "how" an organization does what it does. Senge’s approach facilitates a learning culture within which the training needs (what they should be doing) can be aligned with and systemically tested against the strategic and tactical needs to sustain performance levels. His “Laws of Complexity “is another tool to help an organization look at and test “the way” it works not “what” i.e. on the job tasks of the employees. As, I'm late to the discussion, let me also say that an HR or Corporate Training function that approaches the creation of a Learning Organization from the bottom up will discover a lot of frustration and less than positive feedback. Transformation must be driven by the senior leadership who walk the talk and reward the right behaviors. Reversing the process i.e. starting with the front line or middle management as an HR or Training initiative, NOT openly supported by word and deed from the executive management, may have negative results and reduce the credibility of the training function as a whole.

Thanks Shelia. Just to confirm I understood your comments let me phrase it differently and see if you agree. My take is that within a Learning Organization effective training takes place only after there is an understanding of the organizations (system) performance dynamics and the implications of any changes that might impact the whole or any of the various elements.Once that is understood and if needed individual performance can be addressed (training/coaching/etc) to enhance the systemic outcome and/or alternative action can be taken to address the impact of external issues on the output of the organization. Are we on the same page?

Sheila, I could not agree more. Your comment reminded me of comments by a seasoned regional CEO of a five star hotel brand with the area HQ in Singapore. My associate and I were doing research—in the mid 1980’s for a project we called "Making it Happen". We had been involved in transformational cultural work in Europe, Asia and the Americas and wanted to document what CEO's deemed as the key components of success or what it takes to "make it happen" in their organizations. The hotel executive stated it this way. "We are a service organization and our employees differentiate us from the competition…it can be good or bad. Thus, we hire attitude...if we get the right attitude we can train the skills..." This speaks to your reminder that there are reasons beyond the hands and feet that get in the way of performance. In this case the service vision was clear, the culture was supportive of frontline and support level service delivery on the promise; there were regular team meetings to enhance the outcome and employees were hired based on cultural fit. Then training was designed to support and reinforce skills and behaviors to “make it happen”. The culture and the attitude were the drivers of competitive success; the hands and feet then followed.

Sheila In response to your question/comment a day or so ago, “I am curious would hiring someone based on fit not mechanize those hands?” I suppose it could, however, I w interpreted “hands” in the physical sense as it relates to someone doing something with their hands or more generally one utilizing a skill set. My reference to “fit” was “cultural fit” with regard to ones attitude about work, team contributions, ability to focus on and yet challenge processes, willingness to take initiative, work with others, share credit, solution oriented, etc. Thus, the soft behavioral skills. And, rather than mechanizing the hands in a “hands-on” perspective it would perhaps mechanize hands in a “participative and solution oriented” manner. The point was that these soft skills were more important in a hiring decision in the instance mentioned than the position skills. Cheers John

Robynne, I read your comments several times and, if you don’t mind, would like some clarification. You alluded to the point that Senge’s disciplines being presented in a theoretical and less practical manner made it difficult for manufacturing operational folks (and others I suppose). My take on your comment is that you believe it is the method of presenting the material and engaging the participants rather than the disciplines and the implications of the disciplines that fosters the ‘disconnect’. Is that correct? In your follow-up entry, you lost me in your comment, “leveraging the disciplines within the scope of talent management to drive bottom line results.” And , then connecting this thought and team learning with “positioned in alignment with the manufacturing strategy”. What, perhaps is puzzling me here is the other side of the coin; i.e. if one is attempting to facilitate a Learning Organization / Systems Thinking environment what else would they be attempting to aligne with if not the strategy/vision/goals of the organization? My assumption being that all organizational strategies are in alignment. Where that is not the case, my personal view is that a “team learning" or other exercise related to the five disciplines would have minimal effect at best and could actually be detrimental as there is a bigger problem to resolve first. It is hard in this forum to see through the eyes and experiences of other contributors and my comments on Senge and HR earlier in this thread clearly positioned me in a different mind set than what you alluded to in your comments. Thus, it would be interesting to learn more of your perspective. Cheers John

There you go again Sheila. Asking those thought provoking questions. My perspective includes both scenarios. At the beginning there is a business idea, a plan, a strategy that should be shared with all participants. (let's assume that it is for this discussion) In the dynamic environments in which one does business the success of the idea-plan-strategy is influenced by internal (people and resources primarily) and external factors (economic, competition, political, etc). And, team dialogue considers all relevant information and allows for scenario type discussions (free of mental models) to test systemic implications of the influencers and decisions being considered. The product/outcome of this dialogue could easily be a new strategy as you suggest in scenario II or simply a change in tactics or internal processes depending on what we have learned. The high level component is the shared vision. If that is severely impacted by the product of the team learning dialogue(s) then it might be necessary to rethink the purpose of the business/organization. This works for all organizational levels—at least for me it has--. The CEO / Executive team clarify the vision and must ensure that it is communicated AND understood by everyone. It is not enough to send out a memo or post it around the company. Sharing the vision and facilitating a common understanding –word by word—is imperative. Without this base everything else we talk about is less effective. I do agree that further teaching MAY NOT be required. As we have discussed earlier in the thread moving to a learning environment is transformational. Once the transformation is set the behaviors of the leadership reinforce the right things and the right things are rewarded. This is the importance of “freedom to fail”. When the trying is encouraged and rewarded and mistakes become opportunities the learning becomes sustainable. Then as you reminded us Shelia, when ‘functioning as a whole’ individuals do not sacrifice their personal interest to the larger vision; rather the shared vision becomes an extension of personal visions and the organization creates results they truly desire. And, the system becomes self policing, efficient and very effective.

Sheila, Your explanation makes sense. And, it appears that the difference in our thinking may simply be timing (on the point of entry into an organization) or semantics. But, let me make my case for the movement between SI and SII being dynamic. Albeit, I can appreciate the value of looking at them in independently. My approach to business/org issues is to begin at the end. As such visioning is always the first component. i.e. Where/what do you want to be? What problem are we trying to solve? Etc. Adjustments are made to the strategy/action plan based on the input and feedback (team learning). Accordingly, both scenarios appear to be in play when using your definitions of SI/SII. In my experience there have been numerous occasions where 'team learning' provided ‘aha’ moments that challenged an SI strategy that resulted in a new reality and an SII strategy. The S-I strategy was good but considering the new understanding of reality the S-II was better. In this way the ‘team learning’ colored the reality and broadened the understanding. Waiting until "every effort to prop it up fails" takes the risk of running too deep into a less than optimum plan and a high risk of failure. Looking at it another way...the ‘reality’ is always there. We enter at some point along the continuum of understanding. (e.g. as perceived by: child, teenager, adult, senior) The greater the use of ‘team learning’ (and other 5D components) the faster one can move and adjust to the changes and perceptions of ‘reality’ by employing different tactics or a whole new strategy. The information era offers good examples. E.g. Book sales/distribution. Borders started by a couple of brothers in Ann Arbor Michigan (home of University of Michigan) and became a national chain beginning by selling discounted text books and expanding to become a national book retail chain. They focused on the store front model and stuck with it until their recent bankruptcy. Barns and Noble began in the printing business in the 1800’s and adjusted to reality based on market/service needs---made mistakes, took risks and adjusted with agility---and has, to date, survived the move to internet sales, e-books, etc. Both started in SI but B&N appears to have moved to SII. Perhaps it was the ability to consider all models (and challenge ones mental models) or thinking systemically with the likes of Amazon taking market share. But, whatever the mix...the results demonstrate a willingness to learn and act on the new understanding. Perhaps it was as simple as one having a vision to sell discount books and the other having an evolved vision to serve customers with published content. But one might make the case for Borders staying too long in SI and B&N repeatedly moving between SI and SII as they gained more insight and understanding of the market reality. Sheila, you did it again...that thinking thing! Cheers

Shelia, Wow, thoughts do go around the world! (Laughing) Sheila, your comments to Bruce hit home a very important point. At the highest level a Learning Org. is self sustainable. And, performance measures and goals become less important when everyone is thinking and acting as one with a shared vision. Utopia however is rare. But to be in constant pursuit of a true learning organization is a measure of success. I appreciate your passion and your pursuit of the highest level of underestanding by all who care to participate in the journey. Cheers John

Joseph Manuel

I do but these are not really disciplines that stand alone. but different aspects of the discipline of managing, the first discipline or discipline of disciplines

Please see the four quadrants on the left. It will depend on where you start counting from.

Senge says, the ills of compartmentalization of knowledge creates a false sense of knowledge, that the traditional disciplines like economics, accounting, marketing, and psychology divide the world into arbitrary subdivisions. The five disciplines are certainly the pillars of the learning organisation and they are fundamental to the discipline of management but pillars alone will not make the organization, We need a foundation and a roof in addition, to address the issue of not missing the woods for the trees. As he says, life comes to us as a whole and why we miss the wholeness is due to limitations with our analytic lens that we use to look at the whole. I said I do because these five pillars are integral to organizational learning though I would not use the term discipline. They can not stand alone like economics or accounting. They compliment each other and make sense only when we address the issue of learning as a whole, a process that involve all these and much more. Hope I make myself clear. Thanks.

Thanks Bruce, for the rambling and bringing in Deming. I certainly appreciate and agree. Let the dialogue go on

@Sheila, Quick answer to you. First discipline is just another term for management,old, new and what is yet to come. I see management as the foundational discipline to all other disciplines. (I can not give you a short answer to this here).IMHO, the walk talk gap has contributed to a crisis in credibility of practitioners, more so at this point in time and from a developmental perspective. Thank you. Pause for now......Let us go to that question begging to be asked.

Zareer Aga

I feel that if a organization is going to be a learning org then every person in that org needs to be familiar with 5 disciplines. Even if one person is not into it then the organization will have to be carried forward by one person less. What I am saying is every individual from the laborer to the top management nedd to manage themselves effectively first

Low Hun Seng

I would say that 5 disciplines is more about learning how to learn to achieve transformational outcomes. It is more about organizational members adopting the disciplines to inquire into their own mental models, using team learning, which requires them to suspend assumptions, in order to see more holistically and better understand how others see the often messy kind of situations that they are in. The disciplines involves organizational members learning together whereas training is often focused on individual skills and knowledge to do a specific job.

i can see the discussion getting warm up..... permit me to share an example.A classic example is one where managers push their employees to work harder, see more clients and close more sales... a case of working harder when performance is down. So, managers would recommend more training to get their people up to speed. That may not solve the problem.However, if we adopt team learninng and systems thinking discipline, we may begin to realize that sales has declined when the competitors introduced new programs. So, what is really relevant would be to ask what is really happening and asking the right questions

Michele Bondy

I am in agreement with Low Hun Seng as well as with Bruce McNaughton. In my reading of Senge and in having had the opportunity to study with one of his early adopters, my perception is that we consistently overlook the real cog in the wheel -- the so called "subordinate." Employees do the work, have many excellent ideas and are often on the very front line of change and its impact. I believe the Fifth Discipline and the concepts of wholistic learning are spread from the leader of an organization downward, but that at each level, the manager must "pull" employees into the mode of learning how to learn, taking risks, making mistakes and enjoying the journey. Of course this is ideal. But our current system is geared toward turn-over and churn and we are loosing millions of dollars ramping up new employees instead of encouraging those we have to stay on and find new challenges within their jobs and in other roles as they become available. In my own experience I have never found "training" to provide me with enough time or breadth to truly engage it in my work. Then what I am left with is a big binder that sits on a shelf and collects dust.

Doug Collins

I like your turn of phrase, "as to what they should be doing." Does the human resources group in a learning organization hire people to perform a specific job -- or do they seek people pursuing a vocation whose practice the organization perceives will support its shared vision? The idea of hiring smart people -- which I equate with people who are pursuing their own form of personal mastery in whatever way resonates with them -- and giving them space to define the nature of the contribution in turn resonates with me.

Robynne Sherrill

This is such an interesting topic. I believe that many organizations are still seeking what Senge has already defined for them. The challenge is making Senge's discipline operational and less intimidating to those not grounded in theory and scholarly research. Positioning Senge's work, for example, in a manufacturing environment may feel too theoretical and less practical. The coupling between the theoretical and practical is often difficult to obtain so there is often a choice between the two versus leveraging the strengths of the two. Thanks for the discussion!

Hi Shelia! I'm thinking more about the people implications than the manufacturing system - leveraging the disciplines within the scope of talent management to drive bottom line results. For example, the application of Team Learning according to Senge in a manufacturing environment could be effective if positioned in alignment with the manufacturing strategy. However there is often a disconnect between talent management and operations strategy that does not consider this positioning. Just a thought.

Hi John! Your interpretation of my comments are right on target. Relative to the second part of my comment, I totally agree that this should be the alignment, however some organizations struggle with this....example...not recognizing that creating a lean culture is just as much about people than it is about systems. Perhaps some random thinking on my part that's confusing :)

R. Hannon Sparks

Important to distinguish between dialogue and discussion. One is general the other is more specific. Must be a part of sr and Jr level leadership. Green associates need to be introduced to this concept correctly. Must have good trainer, facilitator to do so.