The Fifth Discipline is the work Dr. Peter Senge, a lecturer at the prestigious MIT. After years of working with the most innovative and competitive companies in the market, the author wanted to present in this book the methods that precisely make these companies successful.
According to his observations, an organization asserts itself in a market as long as it is able to constantly reinvent itself in order to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. This book is an opportunity for him to present the approaches that promote this capacity for perpetual adaptation, reinvention and innovation.
More than a range of management tools or instructions, Peter Senge wanted to offer managers a number of concepts that would allow them to understand the influences and interactions that take place within their organizations.
According to him, five disciplines - individual or collective - characterize these "learning" companies, which are sufficiently agile to stand out from their competitors in the long term.
1 – Personal mastery is the ability of each person to define their priorities, and to develop an objective understanding of their reality.
2 – Mental models bring together deeply ingrained assumptions; generalizations that influence how we understand the world. Adaptability is the result of the revision of these mental constructs.
3 – Shared vision is the essential emergence of a common vision. The commitment and involvement of employees is guaranteed by the collective definition of this vision.
4 – Team learning is another requirement for making a company "learning": dialogue and the development of common reflection broaden the group's perspectives.
5 – Systems thinking brings integrates all the previous disciplines fusing them into a coherent body of theory and practice. This approach is used to consider the organization as a whole, rather than the particularity of its parts. This must be the manager's approach: this ability to perceive the dynamics and trends of the global entity, which emerge from the collaboration of all its stakeholders.
Finally, Senge defines organizations as dynamic systems that can grow, evolve, learn, transform, and lead their own change, through dynamics and internal interactions. It is the manager's role to understand these interactions, as well as the global trends they trigger.