Principles of a Learning Organization, Five Disciplines, Senge

Summary of the Five Disciplines of a Learning Organization by Rea Gill

Detailed in The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge (1994)


1 Systems Thinking


Senge (1994) describes systems thinking as a “discipline that involves approaching problem solving and addressing issues, not by focusing on isolated events or parts of the whole but rather by looking at the patterns and events as interrelated parts that effect and are affected by each other and that collectively make up a unified and inseparable whole .” (p .7)


2 Personal Mastery


“Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our [the members of the organization’s] personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively .” (p .7)


3 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 …


The discipline of working with mental models starts with turning the mirror inward, learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny . It also includes the ability to carry on “learningful” conversations that balance inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own thinking effectively and make that thinking open to the influence of others . (pp .8–9)


4 Shared Vision


The practice of shared vision involves the skills of unearthing shared “pictures of the

future” that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance .



Team Learning


The discipline of team learning starts with “dialogue,” the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine “thinking together .” … The discipline of dialogue also involves learning how to recognize the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning . The patterns of defensiveness are often deeply engrained in how a team operates . If unrecognized, they undermine learning . If recognized and surfaced creatively, they can actually accelerate learning . (pp .7–10)



From  A School as a Living Entity by Rea Gill