Summary of The Fifth Discipline

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

The Fifth Discipline book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Little can be written that hasn’t already been said about Peter M. Senge’s classic on organizational learning. So let’s keep this review simple: If you haven’t read this book, read it now. When this seminal work appeared in 1990, it was truly ahead of its time in identifying and describing the learning organization. But today, this concept has become a central component of organizational development, and if you somehow missed Senge’s prescient analysis of the evolution of business, work and employment, you’re more than a step behind. Why? Because Senge has the rare ability to break new ground in theory and then apply these abstract advances to concrete practices that businesses can emulate. When getAbstract calls this book a classic, don’t think of unread dusty tomes that merely look impressive on a shelf. This is a book that should be read, and perhaps re-read, by anyone who earns a living in the corporate world.

About the Author

Peter M. Senge is the Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a founding partner of a consultancy in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Toronto, Canada.



The “Learning Organization”

As employees evolve into “knowledge workers” – those who develop and apply knowledge – companies must keep pace by becoming “learning organizations.” In such companies, workers aim to learn and grow collectively, trying out different and broader ways of thinking to realize their organization’s potential. According to a report by Stanford Research Institute International, learning organizations have three characteristics that “create meaning and set perspective”: First, they possess “vision, values and integrity.” Second, they encourage dialogue among employees. Finally, they promote “systems thinking” – focusing on the big picture instead of seeing mere sections. The report also identified important elements for integrating learning into everyday work, for example encouraging reflection on deep-seated assumptions and worldviews, and engaging in “action learning,” where workers study their own actions to improve productivity. For optimal performance, organizations need to incorporate these principles into their corporate cultures.

Organizations work the way they do because of how people think and interact. So, to change entrenched but ineffective...

More on this topic

Leading Lean
Leadership U
Raise Your Game
Brave New Work
The Long-Distance Teammate
Social Startup Success

Related Channels

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    D. B. 8 years ago
    ..and the companion Fieldbook. Double loop accounting. Has it really been over 20 years??
  • Avatar
    E. D. 8 years ago
    Like it