Five Building Blocks of Talent Strategy from “Fifth Discipline”

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | comments

“The Fifth Discipline” series of book written by Peter Senge was published in 1990th, “The Fifth Discipline” is all about learning. As applied in the “learning organization,” it results in changes in action, not just in forming new ideas, the five key disciplines are:

1.    System Thinking

Having been taught to break problems down and see things laterally and sequentially, we’ve lost a sense of the whole, why do we attempt to solve every problem by breaking it down into unconnected parts and attempt to rebuild each one independently then re-create a new whole? Senge says the roots of this approach lie in the culture—in “linear” Western language and the mindset of the Industrial Age.

Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes:

·         It’s a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things

·         Seeing patterns of change rather than static ‘snapshots”

·         Develop a sensibility for the “subtle interconnectedness”, that gives living systems their unique character

 2.     Personal Mastery

 “Organizations learn only through individuals who learn,” says Peter Senge. As “approaching one’s life as a creative work:

·         A special sense of purpose that lies behind their visions and goals. Their vision is “a calling,” not just a good idea.

·         An inquisitive and committed nature. An ability to see reality more accurately.

·         A sense of connectedness to life, to others and to larger creative processes, which they can influence but not unilaterally control. These people “live in a continual learning mode. They never arrive.”

Personal mastery must be a discipline.” Senge says. “It is a process of continually focusing and refocusing on what one truly wants, on one’s visions.”

3.    Mental models

We must seek divergent views before developing a convergent conclusion. Senge recommends a divergent approach:

·         Small Is Beautiful: First, work to see issues from multiple points of view. Then identify tradeoffs; make choices, while continually remaining open to discovering errors in one’s reasoning

·         Be “collaborative inquirers,” suggests Senge, not forceful advocates. Seek to “surface, expose, and bring into conversation people that shared mental models can continually improve.

·         Institutional learning is the process whereby people change their shared mental models of the company, their markets, and their competitors.

·         “Just as ‘linear thinking’ dominates most mental models used for critical decisions today, the learning organizations of the future will make key decisions based on shared understandings of interrelationships and patterns

4. Shared vision

 “The strategy plan will not energize us, vision does", Senge says, “Vision is simply an answer to the questions, What do I truly want? What is it that really matters to me? What is it that I would truly like to be part of creating?”

  •  “The art of visionary leadership”: Organizations do not create visions. People create visions. Organizations will not have visions until individuals have visions, a shared vision is not just “an idea,” but “a force in people’s hearts that shared visions;
·         Common Purpose: Change people’s relationship with the enterprise—it’s no longer “theirs,” but ours. Create a commonplace image, identity, purpose, and set of operating values.

·         Courage: The new ways of thinking and acting, foster risk-taking and experimentation.

·         Aspiration: drives positive visions and is a “continuing source of learning and growth

5. Team learning

“Shared vision and talent are not enough to ensure success", Senge asserts. “The world is full of teams made up of talented individuals who share a vision for a while, yet fail to learn.”

Senge says that the five disciplines’ convergence creates new waves of experimentation and advancement—and, hopefully, “learning organizations” in which “people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire.”

All teams must continually be learning, growing, sharing, and thinking. According to Senge, team learning has three critical dimensions:

·         The need to think insightfully about complex issues.
·          The need for innovative, coordinated action
·          “None of us is as smart as all of us,” Team learning is about tapping the potential of many minds.

We must learn to think, interact and see the connectedness of all things in new and different ways.
The Fifth Discipline is the cornerstone of the learning organization, also the talent strategy for 21st century’s business, and comprehensive guideline for leadership diversity.

Is Social Business = Enterprise2.0 + Fifth Discipline
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