Term Paper: Fifth Discipline, Authored by Peter

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[. . .] The truth is oftentimes left out during this process because we incur in our mind the generalization that others may have concluded.

One instance of a Leap of Abstraction is in racism. When we see someone of a different race, doing unpleasant activities, most tend to generalize that, as a whole, the race of that person does the same thing. This tends to result prejudice among people of that race.

Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy on the other hand has two modes: the inquiry mode and the advocacy mode. In the inquiry mode, the individual tries to learn from other's opinions. He listens and asks if there are things that he wants to understand. He has an open learning attitude whereby he accepts opinions from others. Advocacy mode, however, doesn't accept other's views. Instead, he enforces his own perceptions without even listening and caring for other's opinions. These modes, however, can provide a balance with each other. For instance, in an organization, a manager is usually perceived to be the commanding voice and action of a group.

He is the one who decides on things like solving problems and assigning tasks. Sometimes, with his ability to get things done and influence others, this makes a manager effective. Inquiry, in contrast, is not recognized in such manner. But when a manager is promoted to a more senior position, the inquiry mode can be functionally effective. Because senior managers are oftentimes faced with complex situations and problems, they need to ask for opinions and advices from their subordinates.

What Senge emphasizes in his book, and what we need to learn, is that proper balancing of the inquiry and advocacy mode is needed for a more effective leadership and team building. Neither one can be effective individually because of the varying views members may have on each mode, thereby, a balancing of these modes is essential.

Shared Vision

From the Shared Vision, we can learn that one important building block of "learning organization" is the power of sharing the same desire of achieving the same one goal. In shared vision, every individual work together to accomplish what the organization or group, as a whole, want to achieve. In this process, individuals are committed to work, not as a separate element, but as member of a group who coordinate with the others. This in turn increases motivation to every individual, being able to feel the importance of being a part of a group.

Contrast to each other, personal vision is an individual's desire to attain his goal, while shared vision is the attainment of a goal with common desire from the individuals forming the organization. Sometimes, shared vision takes place because of one's aspiration of being a part of important undertaking.

Team Learning

Team Learning is the basic unit of "learning organization." This is essential in an organization for an organization cannot learn without the coordination of teams to learn. It is a pre-requisite method in building shared vision, and is assisted by personal mastery and mental models.

In team learning, there can be a rapid growth of development and improvement on each individual. Because team learning encourages sharing of one's skills and knowledge to others, team learning becomes a process of progress to many individuals at one time, and is better than just one individual who gains knowledge during the same time frame. With the improved knowledge capacity of individuals, a team can achieve extraordinary capabilities because of the combined strong workforce of better individuals.

Team Learning gives emphasis to a synchronized organization, where shared visions can be built. It is a method of improving the weaknesses of each individual to produce better teamwork results. Through this discipline, rarely will a team have the inability to face complicated situations and problems.

One essential approach in team learning is an effective dialogue and discussion. Through this, an individual can gain idea and opinions through a dialogue of each individual's point-of-view. A team can explore on various possibilities in which they can surface and communicate their suggestions. Through a discussion, the team can freely evaluate each opinions and views presented, and find out the most sensible solution. With the varying views that may occur from each colleague, an effective dialogue and discussion can organize things out leading to successful team learning.

Systems Thinking

The fifth discipline, Systems Thinking, focuses on the issues and problems "learning organization" undertake as a whole, as well as the solutions that they can apply to be an effective group. In the book, Senge analyzes that the main problem of an organization's collapse is its inability to view all levels of its system. Oftentimes, problems are only dealt at a specific level without reconsidering its effect on the whole system.

It is important to learn how to understand each level of an organization, their interrelationship, to find an accurate and efficient way of solving problems. Senge uses the "beer game" as an example in this discipline. In order to win, while each player supports each other, each must know the effects of his action on the team as a whole. Through this, they can be able to see where the problem is and apply the necessary actions in the solution.

The essence of Systems Thinking is the ability to see the interrelationships and the structure as a whole. It emphasizes focus on the relationship of every levels of event to see the system and structure of an organization. The need to understand a system, being a product of interrelationships, will help in the process of finding solutions to a problem. According to Senge, the method of studying each component of a system, finding out the problem in each component is already an inadequate process.

As in the five disciplines, each discipline has an interrelationship with the others. A shared vision is built in team learning, while team learning is supported by personal mastery and mental models. Systems thinking on the other hand is an integration of the four disciplines. If interrelated, all the five disciplines will comprise an effective learning organization.


Peter Senge has shared a lot of good ideas in the Fifth Discipline. It would be an inspiring and informative source from which leaders can effectively learn on how to build a successful organization where each member works not as a separate individual, but as a part of a team who shares and aspires a common goal. The five disciplines Senges imparts, if combined and interrelated together, can revolutionize the traditional management schemes of an organization into a learning organization that builds the same goal.

The Fifth Discipline highlights the need for improving and developing an organization. The book shares the methods of achieving this through the concept of its four disciplines and the discipline of systematic thinking. Senge's discussion of each concept is well supported by examples from real life and by quotes of famous individuals.

The fundamental argument of the Fifth Discipline is the art and practice of learning organization. Senge supports proper balancing of systems and implementing interrelationship to an organization. This does not only help in the aspiration of achieving one common goal, but also helps in the development and improvement of each individual. Their sense and capability of working with others can also be enhanced in the process.

Most organizations today have poor development when it comes to skills, knowledge, and abilities of their people. This is due to their poor learning organization. Most employees tend to retain the same skills, lacking growth and advancement in their abilities. With the Fifth Discipline, the imparted methods of surpassing an organization's disabilities will facilitate the learning process of an individual and the organization he… [END OF PREVIEW]

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