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The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization”1

What are the Five Core Disciplines?

Personal Mastery

Personal mastery goes beyond competence and skills, though it is grounded in competence and skills. It goes beyond spiritual unfolding or opening, although it requires spiritual growth. It means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living from a creative as opposed to reactive viewpoint.” (141)

Shared vision – a common caring

Shared vision is not an idea. It is, rather, a force in people’s hearts, a force of impressive power. It may be inspired by an idea, but once it goes further – if it is compelling enough to acquire the support of more than one person – then it is no longer an abstraction. It is palpable. …At its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question, “What do we want to create?” When people truly share a vision they are connected, bound together by a common aspiration.” (206)

Mental Models

Mental models are “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. …new insights fail to get put into practice because they conflict with deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting.” (174)

Team Learning

Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacity of the team to create the results its members truly desire… it converts individual learning into institutional learning.

Systems Thinking

human endeavors are systems. They are bound by invisible fabrics of interrelated actions, which often take years to fully play out their effects on each other. Since we are part of that lacework ourselves, it’s doubly hard to see the whole pattern of change. Instead we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get solved…. Systems thinking is … has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively. Though the tools are new, the underlying worldview is extremely intuitive; experiments with young children show that they learn systems thinking very quickly. (7)

All quotes are from Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline (New York: Doubleday Currency, 1990).1


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