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The Fifth Discipline

The Five Disciplines of the


Learning Organization
And applications to
Clemson and CREDO

A review of The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning
Organization by Peter M. Senge
Published 1990 by Currency Doubleday (a Division of Random House)

Presented by Jonathan R.A. Maier


Clemson Research in Engineering Design and
Optimization Laboratory
February 9th, 2000

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Presentation Map

Roadmap to the Presentation:


• What is a Learning Organization?

• The five disciplines of a Learning Organization

• How can we use this stuff in CREDO and


Clemson in general?

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Learning Organizations

What is a Learning Organization,


and Why Be One?
“The ability to learn faster than your
competitors may be the only sustainable
competitive advantage”
“A fundamental
“The averageshift of mind…from
lifetime of the largest
seeing problems as caused by something
‘out industrial enterprises
there’ to seeing is less
how our ownthan forty
actions
years”
“A Learning
create Organization
the problems weisexperience”
a place where
people are if
“What continually discovering
the high corporate how they
mortality rate
create their“It’s
is only areality,
just and
symptom how
not of theyany
deeper
possible canlonger
change
problems toit.”
figure it
that afflictout
allfrom the top and have every one else
companies?”
following the orders of the grand strategist”

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Learning Organizations

Examples of prototype learning


organizations:
• Herman Miller Furniture
• Hanover Insurance Companies
• Kyocera Electric
• Boeing
• Royal Dutch / Shell Oil
• Harley-Davidson
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The Five Disciplines

What are the five learning disciplines?

I. Personal Mastery
II. Mental Models
III. Shared Vision
IV. Team Learning
V. Systems Thinking

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Systems Thinking

Basic Ideas of Systems Thinking:


Structure influences behavior
Structure in Human systems is subtle
Cause and effect are not closely related in space and
time.
There is no outside. You and the cause of your
problems are part of a single system.
Leverage often comes from new ways of thinking

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes

“Reality is made up of circles


but we see straight lines”
• Systems Thinking is a discipline for seeing the
“structures” that underlie complex sistuations, and
for discerning high from low leverage change.
• In many systems, doing the obvious thing does not
produce the obvious, desired change.
• Systems Thinking simplifies life by helping us see
the deeper patterns lying behind the events and the
details.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes

Nature’s Templates
• Balancing process with delay
• Limits to growth
• Shifting the burden
• Eroding goals
• Fixes that fail
• Success to the successful

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
...
Balancing Process with Delay
Actual
conditions

vio l
r
ha ua
beAct
Delay Desired
behavior

Corrective
action time

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
...
Balancing Process with Delay
Example 1: A Sluggish Shower
Current
water
temperature
HOT! HOT!

Delay Desired
warm
cold cold cold

Shower tap
setting time
Moral: In a sluggish system, aggressiveness produces instability. Either
be patient or make the system more responsive.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Balancing Process with Delay
Example 2: The Real Estate Market
Current
demand for Glut: lots Glut: lots
new houses of houses, of houses,
no demand no demand

time to
build a Sustained
demand and
house
High High High
demand,
production
demand, demand,
no houses no houses no houses
Build more
or less time
Notice the more drastic the response, the longer it takes to reach stability--
exactly the opposite of what was intended.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Limits to Growth
Limiting
Condition

Growing Slowing
Action Condition
Action

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
... Example:
Limits to Growth A Growing Enterprise
Motivation and Size of
productivity market niche
Revenue Morale
$ 

Morale $ Saturation of
Growth
$ market niche

time time
Promotion
opportunities

De
lay
Moral: Don’t push on the reinforcing (growth) process. Remove or
weaken the source of limitation..
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Shifting the Burden
Symptomatic
“solution”

Problem Side
symptom effect

lay
De
Fundamental
solution
The shifting the burden structure explains a wide range of behaviors
where well-intentioned “solutions” actually make matters worse over
the long term.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
... Example 1:
Shifting the Burden Personnel problems
Bring in HR
Staff expert
costs Managers skills
$ and respect
$
Personnel Expectation
Dependency! that
$
performance HR experts will
problem

lay
time solve problems
time

De
Develop manager’s
abilities
Moral: Leverage lies in a combination of strengthening the fundamental
response and weakening the symptomatic response. This usually requires
a long-term orientation.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
... Example 2:
Shifting the Burden Alcohol addiction
Alcohol
Stress

Alcohol
consumption
Stress Health
Ability to
lay control workload
De

time

Reduce workload
Moral: Notice how insidious the reinforcing cycle is, fostering dependence
on the symptomatic solution. Meanwhile the underlying problem grows
worse and the capability for fundamental solutions atrophies.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Eroding Goals
Goal
Pressure to
adjust goals

Gap
Actions to
Condition Improve
Conditions
y
Dela

Eroding Goals is a shifting the burden type structure in which the short-
term solution involves letting a long-term, fundamental goal decline.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
...
Eroding Goals Example: Quality standards
High quality Customer
standard Pressure to dissafisfaction
lower budgets
Quality below Quality
standard standard

Customer Invest in new Quality


dissatisfaction higher quality time
methods
y
Dela

Quality standards and hence quality quietly erode. Meanwhile, the customer
base becomes dissatisfied, driving down revenues and undermining the
enterprise’s ability to invest in the fundamental solution.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Fixes that Fail

Problem Fix

Del
ay
Unintended
Consequences
Fixes that Fail describes a system where a fix is effective in the short term,
but has unforseen consequences which may require even more use of the
original fix, thus perpetuating the problem.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Archetypes
...
Fixes that Fail Example: Maintenance
Maintenance
High Cutting back Costs
maintenance maintenance Break-
downs
costs schedules
Maintenance
schedule

Del time
ay
More breakdowns
and higher costs
Moral: Maintain focus on the long term. Disregard short term “fix,” if
feasible, or use it only to “buy time” while working on a long term remedy.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
...
Success to the Successful
Success
of A Resources
to A
Allocation to A
instead of B

Success Resources
of B to B

In a Success to the Successful system, the more one competitor succeeds,


the more resources it gets, thus starving its competitor.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Systems Archetypes
...
Success to the Successful
Example: Balancing work and home life
Time and
Success success at work
at work Time at
work
Time and
Only 24 hours success at
home
in a day
time
Success Time at
in family home

Because of the dominant reinforcing feedback, a Success to the Successful


system is inherently unstable. The imbalances are not self-correcting. The
only leverage lies in changing the underlying structure.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Systems Thinking

Recap of Systems Thinking:


“The bottom line of Sytems Thinking is leverage--
seeing where actions and changes in structures
can lead to significant, enduring improvements.”
“The art of Systems Thinking lies in seeing through
complexity to the underlying structures
generating change.”
Translation: Systems Thinking is not a magic bullet.
It only helps you understand what’s going on
and what to do about it. It’s still up to you to
implement the necessary change.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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The Five Disciplines

The Other Four Learning Disciplines:

I. Personal Mastery
II. Mental Models
III. Shared Vision
IV. Team Learning
V. Systems Thinking

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Personal Mastery

“Personal Mastery” Means:


• The discipline of personal growth and learning
• Approaching one’s life as a creative work
• Continually clarifying what is important to us
• The ability to see current reality
• Pursuing a vision as a purpose rather than just a good
idea
• That practicing the virtues of life and business success
are not only compatible but enrich one another
• Not something possessed, but a process.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Personal Mastery

The Discipline of Personal Mastery


“The way to begin developing a sense of personal mastery
is to approach it as a discipline, as a series of practices
and principles that must be applied to be useful.”
• Personal Vision
• Creative Tension
• Structural Conflict
• Commitment to the Truth
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Personal Mastery:

Personal Vision
• Identify ultimate intrinsic desires, not only secondary goals
• Coupled with Purpose (‘why’) (abstract)
• Vision is a specific destination (‘what’) (concrete)
• True vision is not composed of negatives of the now
• Multifaceted (material+personal+service+…)
• Takes courage to hold and pursue
Personal Mastery is a process of continually focussing and
refocusing on what one truly wants, on one’s visions.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Personal Mastery:

Creative Tension
Vision We are acutely aware of the gap between our
vision and reality
• This gap can be discouraging, or...
• The gap can be a source of energy, in fact...
Current • This gap is the source of creative energy!
reality
“There are only two possible ways for the tension to resolve
itself: pull reality toward the vision or pull the vision toward
reality. Which occurs will depend on whether we hold steady
to the vision.”
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Personal Mastery:

Structural Conflict
“Practically all of us
have a dominant
belief that we are not
able to to fulfill our
Belief in Your Your
powerlessness current Vision desires.”
or unworthiness reality
• Our unawareness of this belief contributes to its power
• We “cope” by letting vision erode, focussing on erasing
negatives, or through shear will-power
• But the only real leverage lies in gradually changing the
underlying beliefs and by Commitment to the Truth...
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Personal Mastery:

Commitment to the Truth invovles...


• Rooting out the ways we limit or deceive ourselves
• Continually updating our theories of why things are the way they are
• Continually broadening our awareness
• Deepening our understanding of the structures underlying current
events
• Recognizing ‘coping’ with structural conflict and then making
appropriate changes
• Compassion: Seeing the structures that trap all of us unless
discovered

I. II. III. IV. V.


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The Five Disciplines

I. Personal Mastery
II. Mental Models
III. Shared Vision
IV. Team Learning
V. Systems Thinking

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Mental Models

The Discipline of Mental Models


• Involves surfacing, testing, and improving our
internal pictures of how the world works.
• Our mental models determine not only how we make
sense of the world, but how we take action
• Problems with mental models arise when they are
tacit--when they exist below the level of awareness

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Mental Models

Mental Models and


“Skilled Incompetence”
• A worse problem is that we tend to trap ourselves in
defensive routines
• These insulate our mental models from examination
• Consequently we develop “skilled incompetence,”
• We become skilled at protecting ourselves from the
pain and threat posed by real learning situations (!)
• Thereby we never learn to produce the results we
truly desire!!!
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Mental Models

Example: General Motors


The following tacit mental model was used at GM for decades
until the crisis in the 1980’s, after losing 38% of their market
share to overseas competitors:
• GM is in the business of making money, not cars
• Cars are primarily status symbols. Therefore styling is more
important than quality
• The US car market is isolated from the rest of the world
• Workers do not have an important impact on productivity or
product quality
• Everyone connected to the system has no need for more than a
fragmented, compartmentalized understanding of the business

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Mental Models

The “Ah-ha!” of Mental Models:


• All we ever have are assumptions--never truths
• We always see the world through our mental models
• Our mental models are never complete
• Our mental models are chronically nonsystemic
So what are the skills necessary to use mental models
effectively? ……

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Mental Models

Skills of Mental Models


• Recognizing “Leaps of Abstraction”
• Exposing the “Left Hand Column”
• Balancing Inquiry and Advocacy
• Excercising Scenarios in complex situations
• Facing up to distinctions between espoused theories
(what we say) and theories-in-use (the implied theory
in what we do)

I. II. III. IV. V.


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The Five Disciplines

I. Personal Mastery
II. Mental Models
III. Shared Vision
IV. Team Learning
V. Systems Thinking

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Shared Vision

A Shared Vision is…


• the answer to the question, “What do we want to
create?”
• not an idea, not even an important idea
• rather a force in people’s hearts
• compelling enough to acquire the support of more
than one person
• not imposed by one person or group onto others
• a vision that people are truly committed to, because it
reflects their own personal vision

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Shared Vision

Mastering the discipline of


Shared Vision requires...
• First giving up the idea that visions are always
announced from “on-high”
• Sharing your personal vision and asking for support
• Enrolling others vs. getting them to “buy in”
• Fostering genuine commitment rather than
compliance
A committed person doesn’t play by the rules of the game.
He/she is responsible for the game. A compliant person
just plays by the rules.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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Shared Vision

Examples of Shared Visions:


• AT&T: Universal phone service
• Ford: everyone affording a car
• Apple: empowering people with easy to use computers
• Microsoft: a computer in every home
• Herman Miller: “a gift to the human spirit”
• JFK: a man on the moon by the end of the decade
• Medieval cathedrals
You cannot have a learning organization without shared vision.
Without a pull toward some goal which people truly want to
achieve, the forces in support of the status quo can be
overwhelming.
I. II. III. IV. V.
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The Five Disciplines

I. Personal Mastery
II. Mental Models
III. Shared Vision
IV. Team Learning
V. Systems Thinking

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Team Learning

Team Learning involves…


• Alignment
• Thinking insightfully about complex issues
• The need for innovative, coordinated action
• Dialogue and discussion
• Practice

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Team Learning

Alignment When a group of people function


as a whole

An unaligned team An aligned team

An unaligned team with An aligned team with


individual empowerment individual empowerment

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Team Learning

Dialogue (‘dia’ + ‘logos’)


• Occurs when a group becomes open to the flow of a
larger intelligence ⇒IQgroup > IQindividual
• attempts to go beyond any one individual’s
understanding
• Allows people to become observers of their own
thinking
• Differs from discussion in that there is a free
exploration of a complex issue, rather than presenting
and defending individual viewpoints

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Team Learning

Three Conditions for Dialogue:


• All participants must suspend their assumptions,
literally to hold them “as if suspended before us”
• All participants must regard one another as colleagues
• There must be a facilitator who holds the context of
the dialogue
In dialogue, different views are presented as a means toward
discovering a new view. Discussions converge on a single
conclusion or course of action. Dialogues are diverging; they do
not seek agreement, but a richer grasp of complex issues.

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Team Learning

Dealing with Conflict


The difference between great teams and mediocre teams lies in how
they face conflict and deal with the defensiveness that invariably
surrounds conflict.
Defensive This is often a classic
routine
Perceived need for Threat “shifting the burden”
new understanding
and behavior type structure
Learning
Gap
Skillful facilitators learn
Current Need for inquiry to confront defensiveness
understanding and change without producing more
and behavior
Delay

defensiveness

I. II. III. IV. V.


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Applications

Building a learning organization


• Read The Fifth Discipline
• Define our shared vision
• Begin using systems thinking (every day)
• Practice exposing our own mental models
• Begin to foster individual’s personal mastery
• Practice team learning as a team

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Applications

Example: Trying to improve writing


skills in ME 221:
Marks on I realized this was
papers a classic “shifting
the burden” type
structure.
Writing Dislike Consequently I
problems lay of good am focussing on
writing implementing the
De

fundamental
Improve solution.
writing skills

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Applications

Example: Why the graduate school is


having trouble recruiting (1st stab)

Good
economy Increase
Lack of foreign
enrollment students

Del
ay
Xenophobia
“Fixes that fail”
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Applications

Example: Why the graduate school is


having trouble recruiting (2nd stab)
Increase foreign
students and/or
lower standards

Xenophobia,
Good Lack of students returning
economy enrollment overseas, & ???

lay
De
Make graduate
school more
economically “Shifting the burden”
valuable
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Applications

Example: Why the graduate school is


having trouble recruiting (3rd stab)
Goal: great Pressure to
graduate lower admissions
students standards
Good Gap
economy
Make grad
Lack of school more
enrollment economically
y

valuable
Dela

“Eroding Goals”

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Applications

Example: Why the graduate school is


having trouble recruiting (4th stab)

Success of
economy Industry get
students faster
Students go to
industry rather
than grad. school
Grad. School Grad school
struggles gets less
students

“Success to the Successful”

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Applications
My solution:
Foreign students return
Eroding Goals overas +/- mediocre
Success to the
successful students get grad.
degrees
Success Goal: great Pressure to lower
of Industry get graduate admissions
economy students students standards
faster
Students go to
industry rather
than grad. school Gap
Fix that fails
Increase foreign
Grad. and/or mediocre
School Lack of students
struggles enrollment

y
Shifting the burden:

Dela
symptomatic solution

De
lay
Make graduate Dela
school more Unintended y
economically consequence
valuable Xenophobia, (+possible less
commitment to university /
Shifting the burden: state / national vision)
fundamental solution

Management principles from the combined systems archetypes


point toward a long term focus, strengthening the fundamental
solution, holding the vision, and disregarding the short term
symptomatic solution if possible.
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Conclusion

We have now had an overview of


Learning Organizations, the Five
Disciplines, and how we might apply these
techniques to CREDO and Clemson…
The obvious question is,
Where do we go from here?
Opportunity for dialogue…

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