is one single thing a learning organisation does well, it is helping people
embrace change. People in learning organisations react more quickly when
their environment changes because they know how to anticipate changes that
are going to occur… and how to create the kinds of changes they want. Change
and learning may not exactly be synonymous, but they are inextricably
Peter Senge et al 5th
Discipline Fieldbook p. 11
Five Learning Disciplines...
In 1990, Peter Senge published "The Fifth Discipline"
(later followed by "The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and
Tools for Building a Learning Organization" in 1994). His books pulled
together his extensive research into what different organisations do to
build learning capacity – and why some organisations use learning better
codified these practices into what he called 'The 5 Learning
Disciplines' as well as coming up with the concept-label of
The 5 Learning Disciplines –
Personal Mastery, Team Learning
Thinking – are each made up of a set of tools and
practices for building and sustaining learning leadership capability in
organisations. Each Discipline consists of:
Principles, propositions or concepts (Senge calls these
Tools or techniques that, once learned and practised,
assist in making the Disciplines come to life
Practices or precepts to follow in your own leadership
behaviour and approaches
According to Senge, leaders in learning organisations learn
to thrive on change and constantly innovate by methodically cultivating
these 5 Disciplines. They may never be fully mastered, but
learning-centred leaders, teams and organisations practise them
Our approach to workplace improvement and learning-centred
leadership is based firmly in the values, concepts, principles and
language of learning organisations.
The 5 Leadership Learning
Disciplines in brief are:
Vision: The key
vision question is ‘What do we want to create together?’. Taking time
early in the change process to have the conversations needed to shape a
truly shared vision is crucial to build common understandings and
commitments, unleash people’s aspirations and hopes and unearth
reservations and resistances. Leaders learn to use tools such as
‘Positive Visioning’, 'Concept-shifting’ and ‘Values Alignment’
to create a shared vision, forge common meaning/focus and mutually agree
what the learning targets, improvement strategies and challenge-goals
should be to get there.
Mental Models: One key to change success
is in surfacing deep-seated mental models - beliefs, values, mind-sets and
assumptions that determine the way people think and act. Getting in touch
with the thinking going on about change in your workplace, challenging or
clarifying assumptions and encouraging people to reframe is essential.
Leaders learn to use tools like the 'Ladder of Inference' and
'Reflective Inquiry' to practise making their mental models clearer
for each other and challenging each others' assumptions in order to build
is centrally to do with ‘self-awareness’ – how much we know about
ourselves and the impact our behaviour has on others. Personal mastery is
the human face of change – to manage change relationships sensitively, to
be willing to have our own beliefs and values challenged and to ensure our
change interactions and behaviours are authentic, congruent and
principled. Leaders learn to use tools like 'Perceptual Positions'
and 'Reframing' to enhance the quality of interaction and
relationship in and outside their teams.
Team Learning happens when teams start
‘thinking together’ – sharing their experience, insights, knowledge and
skills with each other about how to do things better.
develop reflection, inquiry and discussion skills to conduct more skillful
change conversations with each other which form the basis for creating a
shared vision of change and deciding on common commitments to action. It’s
also about teams developing the discipline to use the action learning
cycle rigorously in change-work. Leaders learn to use tools like the
'Action-Learning Cycle' and 'Dialogue' to develop critical
reflection skills and conduct more robust, skillful discussions with their
teams and each other.
is a framework for seeing inter-relationships that underlie complex
situations and interactions rather than simplistic (and mostly inaccurate)
linear cause-effect chains. It enables teams to unravel the often hidden
subtleties, influences, leverage points and intended/unintended
consequences of change plans and programs and leads to deeper, more
complete awareness of the interconnections behind changing any system.
Leaders learn to use 'Systems Thinking Maps' and 'Archetypes'
to map and analyse situations, events, problems and possible
causes/courses of action to find better (and often not obvious) change
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