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The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Anglais) Relié – août 1990

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Give Me a Lever Long Enough… And Single-Handed I Can Move The World

From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world. This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price. We can no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinsic sense of connection to a larger whole. When we then try to “see the big picture,” we try to reassemble the fragments in our minds, to list and organize all the pieces. But, as physicist David Bohm says, the task is futile–similar to trying to reassemble the fragments of a broken mirror to see a true reflection. Thus, after a while we give up trying to see the whole altogether.

The tools and ideas presented in this book are for destroying the illusion that the world is created of separate, unrelated forces. When we give up this illusion–we can then build “learning organizations,” organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.

As the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more complex and dynamic, work must become more “learningful.” It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the organization, a Ford or a Sloan or a Watson or a Gates. It’s just not possible any longer to figure it out from the top, and have everyone else following the orders of the “grand strategist.” The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization.

Learning organizations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak, and pretty much run their households all on their own. Learning organizations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great team, a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way– who trusted one another, who complemented one anothers’s strengths and compensated for one another’s limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results. I have met many people who have experienced this sort of profound teamwork–in sports, or in the performing arts, or in business. Many say that they have spent much of their life looking for that experience again. What they experienced was a learning organization. The team that became great didn’t start off great–it learned how to produce extraordinary results.

One could argue that the entire global business community is learning to learn together, becoming a learning community. Whereas once many industries were dominated by a single, undisputed leader–one IBM, one Kodak, one Xerox–today industries, especially in manufacturing, have dozens of excellent companies. American, European, or Japanese corporations are pulled forward by innovators in China, Malaysia, or Brazil, and they in turn, are pulled by the Koreans and Indians. Dramatic improvements take place in corporations in Italy, Australia, Singapore–and quickly become influential around the world.

There is also another, in some ways deeper, movement toward learning organizations, part of the evolution of industrial society. Material affluence for the majority has gradually shifted people’s orientation toward work–from what Daniel Yankelovich called an “instrumental” view of work, where work was a means to an end, to a more “sacred” view, where people seek the “intrinsic” benefits of work.(1) “Our grandfathers worked six days a week to earn what most of us now earn by Tuesday afternoon,” says Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance. “The ferment in management will continue until we build organizations that are more consistent with man’s higher aspirations beyond food, shelter and belonging.”

Moreover, many who share these values are now in leadership positions. I find a growing number of organizational leaders who, while still a minority, feel they are part of a profound evolution in the nature of work as a social institution. “Why can’t we do good works at work?” asked Edward Simon, former president of Herman Miller, a sentiment I often hear repeated today. In founding the “Global Compact,” UN Secretary General Kofi Annan invited businesses around the world to build learning communities that elevate global standards for labor rights, and social and environmental responsibility.

Perhaps the most salient reason for building learning organizations is that we are only now starting to understand the capabilities such organizations must possess. For a long time, efforts to build learning organizations were like groping in the dark until the skills, areas of knowledge, and paths for development of such organizations became known. What fundamentally will distinguish learning organizations from traditional authoritarian “controlling organizations” will be the mastery of certain basic disciplines. That is why the “disciplines of the learning organization” are vital.


On a cold, clear morning in December 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the fragile aircraft of Wilbur and Orville Wright proved that powered flight was possible. Thus was the airplane invented; but it would take more than thirty years before commercial aviation could serve the general public.

Engineers say that a new idea has been “invented” when it is proven to work in the laboratory. The idea becomes an “innovation” only when it can be replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs. If the idea is sufficiently important, such as the telephone, the digital computer, or commercial aircraft, it is called a “basic innovation,” and it creates a new industry or transforms an existing industry. In these terms, learning organizations have been invented, but they have not yet been innovated.

In engineering, when an idea moves from an invention to an innovation, diverse “component technologies” come together. Emerging from isolated developments in separate fields of research, these components gradually form an ensemble of technologies that are critical to one another’s success. Until this ensemble forms, the idea, though possible in the laboratory, does not achieve its potential in practice.(2)

The Wright brothers proved that powered flight was possible, but the McDonnel Douglas DC3, introduced in 1935, ushered in the era of commercial air travel. The DC3 was the first plane that supported itself economically as well as aerodynamically. During those intervening thirty years (a typical time period for incubating basic innovations), myriad experiments with commercial flight had failed. Like early experiments with learning organizations, the early planes were not reliable and cost-effective on an appropriate scale.

The DC-3, for the first time, brought together five critical component technologies that formed a successful ensemble. They were: the variable-pitch propeller, retractable landing gear, a type of lightweight molded body construction called “monocque,” a radial air-cooled engine, and wing flaps. To succeed, the DC3 needed all five; four were not enough. One year earlier, the Boeing 247 was introduced with all of them except wing flaps. Boeing’s engineers found that the plane, lacking wing flaps, was unstable on takeoff and landing, and they had to downsize the engine.

Today, I believe, five new component technologies are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations. Though developed separately, each will, I believe, prove critical to the others’ success, just as occurs with any ensemble. Each provides a vital dimension in building organizations that can truly “learn,” that can continually enhance their capacity to realize their highest aspirations:

Systems Thinking. A cloud masses, the sky darkens, leaves twist upward, and we know that it will rain. We also know the storm runoff will feed into groundwater miles away, and the sky will clear by tomorrow. All these events are distant in time and space, and yet they are all connected within the same pattern. Each has an influence on the rest, an influence that is usually hidden from view. You can only understand the system of a rainstorm by contemplating the whole, not any individual part of the pattern.

Business and other human endeavors are also systems. They, too, 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 a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that 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.

Personal Mastery. “Mastery” might suggest gaining dominance over people or things. But mastery can also mean a special level of proficiency. A master craftsman doesn’t dominate pottery or weaving. People with a high level of pers... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

Revue de presse

Les managers ont encore beaucoup à apprendre... et à faire apprendre
Les plus belles réussites d'entreprise contemporaines sont l'oeuvre d'équipes et non plus d'individus agissant en solo. Cinq disciplines sont propres à stimuler le développement continu de l'entreprise à travers un travail en équipe fructueux : la pensée systémique, la maîtrise personnelle, les modèles mentaux, la vision partagée et l'apprentissage en équipe.
En pratique, des disciplines fortement imbriquées mais trois à développer en priorité
La vision partagée, car elle fixe une orientation à long terme et crée le besoin d'apprentissage. Le raisonnement systémique car les managers sont des pragmatiques ayant besoin de comprendre la réalité. Enfin, les disciplines liées aux modèles mentaux et notamment l'art d'exprimer ouvertement des pensées dissimulées. La maîtrise personnelle vient souvent en dernier lieu car elle ne peut être que le résultat d'une liberté de choix laissée à chacun. Résultat : l'avènement des organisations " intelligentes ".
Ce nouveau mode de management fera changer en profondeur les organisations : elles développeront sans cesse leurs capacités à bâtir le futur en s'appuyant sur un apprentissage de l'action. -- Idées clés, par Business Digest --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x8edd6198) étoiles sur 5 135 commentaires
108 internautes sur 114 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e81ed80) étoiles sur 5 positively excellent 24 mars 2004
Par Robert J. Crawford - Publié sur
Format: Broché
All too often, I find myself acting cynically about my field and ready to dismiss just about anything as mediocre, no matter how popular or praised. Well, this is one book that I think is really excellent - for content, for clarity, for sincerity, for the stories reported in it.
When I plow through a business book, I try to see if I can remember the central ideas, the essence of what the author has to say from the mass of details and stories that make up every business book. Most often, they are appalingly banal and pathetically over-applied, touted as able to solve just about every problem, in particular if a fee is paid to the authors to come and talk about it in person. I was preparted to treat this book the same way, and was simply delighted to find a truly excellent and useful book. And gee, I am glad that I can get inspired by a book in my chosen field, rather than bored!
As I see it, this book has three principal ideas. First, we must think of organizations and their missions as complex systems rather than as conglomerations of isolated problems. It is pitch for the development of a holistic view - how everything interacts and what factors act upon what other factors. This is an analytical tool that can pinpoint what should be done, breaking mental habits of looking only at the bottom line of sales revenues, for example, rather than the need to provide better service or delivery times. Second, employees must be empowered to make their own decisions locally, requiring honesty and openness throughout the organization as standard practice. This enables them to question and learn, not just individually but as part of a unified team, hence the subtitle of a learning organization. Mistakes are part of this process and should be allowed as valid experiments. Third, the task of a leader is to design an organizational system within which this can all be accomplished. Rather than control all decisions in a centralized manner in accordance with a rigid plan, the leader must develop a vision of where they organization should go and then allow his employees to pursue that vision as a team with great autonomy.
I have wanted to read this book for almost ten years. It was first pointed out to me by a remarkable business leader in mainland China, Zhang Ruimin, the founder of the Haier Group, as a seminal text for him. He said that he had built a learning organization in accordance with Senge's prescriptions, and after so many years, I see that indeed he did. What this book did for me was to give me a better idea of Zhang's mind and what went on in it. But it has also given me a clearer idea of many other remarkable entrepreneurs whom I have had the pleasure and honor to meet over the years in my work. As Senge explained, these men had a vision, but used the gap that existed between their vision and current reality to inspire their workers to achieve remarkable things. And they created self-reinforcing systems to do so.
Another fascinating aspect of this book is that, in spite of being nearly 15 years old, it felt fresh and its examples did not feel stale and in need of updates. Many books that old extoll Japan as the model to emulate and explain why that country does everything better than everyone else. Just take a look at Porter's books! While this book has some examples from Japan, it does not fall into that trap - for me, that means its analyses have stood the test of time.
This is one of the best business books I ever read - and I have read way way too many of them! Warmly recommended.
61 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e81edd4) étoiles sur 5 An Intellectual Look Into Creating A World-Class Business 14 mai 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The Fifth Discipline stresses the importance of cultivating a learning organization. Accordingly, it is a book of learning more than of application. The content is very philosophical compared to other business-oriented books that I've read. The author, Senge, forces the reader to be alert and to be open. With that in mind, this book has a wealth of information to share with its readers. Although I would not recommend this book to the casual reader, it is a must-read for anyone who cares to be intellectually challenged from a business leadership perspective, and who wants to deepen their own knowledge-base in order to become more insightful leaders in their organization.
In chapter two, Senge wastes no time getting to the fact that most business organizations (even the "good" ones) have a real learning deficiency. Often, businesses find some way to get the job done, but have no culture that fosters real growth and accumulation of new, outside knowledge. As a result, many businesses-while growing in the areas of sales, profits, employees, etc.-nonetheless are often doomed to repeat past mistakes, and perhaps set themselves up for a much bigger fall in the future.
Senge's discussion of mental models (chapter 10) and the role they play in every person's interactions with others is of value to the manager who wonders why they are sometimes ineffective when it comes to working with certain other individuals. Our mental models often effect our outward actions towards others in negative or at least non-productive ways, and we are usually not even cognizant of that fact. The "Action Science" theory is also interesting as we try to learn how to more effectively interact with others in the organization. Towards the end of chapter 10, Senge shares some very basic ideas that, if remembered, can help individuals cultivate more fruitful working relationships within the organization.
In chapter eighteen, Senge focuses on what it takes to be a leader in a continually improving, systems-oriented organization. The leader of this type of organization must become a better "designer" of that business's capabilities. This person cannot expect his employees to perform to his expectations if the system that has been designed (within which they perform) is not capable. The leader must continually improve and redesign the overall system/organization so that organizational growth can always be a reality. "'The bad leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people praise. The great leader is he who the people say, "We did it ourselves."'" In Senge's paraphrase of Lao-tzu, we learn that people have thought about leadership criteria for thousands of years. We also can read that a great leader is one who helps design a system that enables all employees to contribute and grow.
Senge interviewed three executives whose organizations have thrived as learning, systems-oriented businesses, and included their responses in the chapter on leadership (18). Ray Stata, President and CEO of Analog Devices, Inc. notes that "the rate at which organizations learn may become the only sustainable source of competitive advantage" in the future (p349). As worldwide industries mature, and companies become global, we have every reason to believe that certain variables (employee education, technology, etc.) will be increasingly equal. If this assumption holds to be true in the future, then Ray Stata's observation is one that today's business leaders should beware. In the not too distant future, it may be only the learning organizations that survive and prosper.
90 internautes sur 97 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e81efa8) étoiles sur 5 An inspiration... 7 février 2002
Par Layla Halabi - Publié sur
Format: Broché
The Learning Organization remains one of the most talked-of management concepts in today's business world, and nobody is as capable of explaining exactly what is a Learning Organization or what are the requirements for such an elusive concept than Peter Senge.
Senge's main thesis is that for an organization to become a Learning organization, it must embrace five disciplines:
1) Building Shared Vision so that the organization may build a common commitment to long term results and achievement.
2) Mental models are a technique that can be used to foster creativity as well as readiness and openness to change and the unexpected.
3) Team Learning is needed so that the learning is passed on from the individuals to teams (i.e. the organization as a whole).
4) Personal Mastery is the individual's motivation to learn and become better (hence the term Mastery).
and Finally
5) The fifth discipline is that of Systems Thinking which allows to see a holistic systemic view of the organization as a function of its environment.
However, this is not simply a book about management practice.. though it was written primarily for the use managers. This is a book about growth, improvement and continuous development. If you wish to achieve these results for yourself, your home, or your organization, then you MUST read this book.
Senge introduces his ideas and concepts smoothly and in an absorbing style. He is able to explain difficult concepts simply and by the end, you find that you have whole-heartedly embraced his belief in the Learning Organization, in fact, you find yourself yearning for it!
60 internautes sur 65 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e8265f4) étoiles sur 5 Understand the systems around you, and create lasting change 8 avril 2000
Par Adam F. Jewell - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Nothing happens in isolation, every event or situation is the result of numerous related events. In order to create lasting change in a work environment, in your personal life, or in your physical health, there are numerous interrelated factors that contribute to the current situation.
Within this book you will discover how your actions create your current reality, and why certain actions may or may not bring about the desired change. The book identifies "systems archetypes" such as the snowball effect, balancing loops, growth and under investment, fixes that fail, limits to growth, shifting the burden and others. These are general models that describe many familiar scenarios and situations.
Along the way, the book details:
Personal mastery - a commitment to personal growth and learning
Mental Models - The beliefs that people hold about the world, change, and reality that may be impeding the change process or limiting growth.
Shared Vision - Overcoming mental models and bringing concerns and beliefs out in to the open, so members of an organization may work toward a common goal.
Team learning - Building on shared vision, by aligning goals, dreams and desires, in a manner such that a group of people function as a whole to achieve a common goal.
There are numerous easy to understand examples of the five disciplines at work in the book, that anyone can relate to and understand. They range from corporate examples such as the ultimate failure of Peoples Express airlines, a simple supply chain management scenario in the "Beer Game" and numerous examples from everyday life.
It's an easy reading book, very thought provoking, and enlightening, definitely worth picking up a copy. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, and the Dance of Change provide excellent complimentary reading to the 5th Discipline, and are full of exercises relating to the Fifth Discipline. In addition, Eli Goldratt has written several books that compliment this work very well particularly the Goal.
30 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8e826618) étoiles sur 5 Even More Relevant and More Valuable Now 17 février 2000
Par Robert Morris - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This is the first of three Senge books I greatly admire, the others being The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook and The Dance of Change. It is important to keep in mind that "total learning" is a misnomer. We can never learn everything it is possible to learn (are you fluent in Mandarin Chinese?) nor can we ever learn all of the possible applications of what we do know. Senge's objective is to help all organizations (regardless of nature or size) to optimize opportunities for appropriate learning, and, to assist everyone involved to optimize the results of their efforts to learn. What several other reviewers have either ignored or minimized is Senge's substantial contribution to our understanding of effective, sustainable change within any organizational structure. (You are also urged to check out O'Toole's Leading Change, another excellent source of information and counsel.) Senge organizes The Fifth Discipline as follows:
Part I How our Actions Create Our Reality...and How We Can Change It
Part II The Fifth Discipline: The Cornerstone of the Learning Organization
Part III The Core Disciplines: Building the Learning Organization
Part IV Prototypes
Part V Coda
According to Senge, there are five new "component technologies" which are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations: Systems Thinking ("invisible fabrics of interrelated actions"), Personal Mastery (of various skills at the highest possible level), Mental Models ("deeply engrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images" which influence learning), Building Shared Vision (of "a set of principles and guiding practices" which help to define "pictures of the future"), and finally Team Learning (based on dialogue which enables effective collaboration). The book examines each of these five separate but interdependent "disciplines" with meticulous care and compelling eloquence.
Organizations as well as those who comprise them can (and often do) have learning disabilities. For example, what I call the Negative Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: "I can't do "it" or "We can't do "it." The prophecy is then fulfilled (of course) as if it had been expressed by the Oracle at Delphi. Senge is well-aware of learning disabilities. Within the framework of his narrative, he suggests a number of practical strategies and tactics to overcome them. In effect, Senge has created a highly-readable, immensely practical, and extraordinarily comprehensive examination of "The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization."
Although first published ten years ago, The Fifth Discipline is more relevant and more valuable today than ever before. Why? Because change is the only constant and it can occur in seconds rather than in years or even days. Because there is now so much more information to absorb, digest, and evaluate. Because organizations are (finally) beginning to recognize their under-utilization of their "human capital" and need immediate assistance. I give The Fifth Discipline the highest possible rating and conclude my review of it by quoting Derek Bok's response when parents of Harvard students complained about a tuition increase: "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
Those who share my high regard for this book are encouraged to read William Isaacs' Dialogue, also. Senge provides an excellent Introduction to it.
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