14 thoughts on “How do you define a learning organization? by Peter Senge, Author of The Fifth Discipline”

  1. This is is our point of view. Please find at this link https://youtu.be/jCn954uRphU

  2. I am a Somali student who can not read the internet because I am not able to spend money on the internet please if you like the readers, please help me complete the education. I will remember those who stand today for my help by email me [email protected]

  3. “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” I see evidence of a very full mind in the background of Mr Senge's video feed. Brilliant ideas, very clearly expressed, I appreciate this video very much.

  4. I believe Senge does a great job of defining a new way of thinking when it comes to leadership. Instead of requiring a leader to be the “hero” who must be in control and save the day, Senge’s believes the leader needs to be the facilitator of learning in the team and organization. But this transition of thinking requires a letting go of this control in order to embrace learning as leading (Sarder, 2015). However, this is difficult because it contradicts our image of leaders. Being a hero leader has been burned into our minds from a young age. I do believe the leader as the facilitator of learning can still be seen as a hero, especially if he or she is successful at organizing the team and work flow. As Senge references the Bible for the source of his word Metanoia, we need to look to Jesus as the best example of a servant leader who embodies the idea of creating a team of individuals sold out to a learning organization.

  5. I would like to comment on one area that Senge talks about that I think leaders are not intentional about. This comes as he refers to the archetypal patterns in systems.  He refers to “shifting the burden”.  This idea he says is a pattern where “people quickly focus on a quick fix but they know there is a deeper source to the pattern.  And if they get caught up in the quick fix, they never get to the deeper source”(Senge, 2015).  I find myself and other organizations in this predicament many times.  A leader can easily stop short of becoming a learning organization if they cannot dig deeper in finding the true source to a pattern that their organization is experiencing.  It reminds me of the old adage that one would “miss the forest for the trees.”  Learning organizations should spend more time using this tool to intentionally evaluate what deeper issues are causing the patterns in the system.  It can take more time and require vulnerability but in the end it can help an organization thrive.Reference:

    Senge, P. (2015,June 4). How do you define a learning organization? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc2ruCErTok&feature=youtu.be.Miss The Forest For The Trees. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miss%20the%20forest%20for%20the%20trees

  6. Senge (2015) suggested that one of the primary goals of any organization is how they can get their employees to work together at their best and engrain that as a culture norm. In order to do this, Senge (2015) said an organization must have an internal learning infrastructure. If I understand Senge correctly, the internal learning infrastructure serves the purpose of being a central communication hub for learning, which enables an organization’s teams to share their best practices, development progress, and incubate new ideas.

    As an example, Glynn (2008) reviewed how Caterpillar Inc., approached implementing a learning infrastructure. After doubling the size of the company in three-and-a-half years, Caterpillar grew to over 100,000 employees in 40 different countries (Glynn, 2008). Cat U, Caterpillar’s internal learning department, implemented an online learning platform that enables managers to stitch together a custom individual learning plan for their employees (Glynn, 2008). “Caterpillar's learning technology infrastructure enables our employees to quickly build both competence and confidence” (Glynn, 2008).

    Glynn, C. (2008). Building a learning infrastructure. Retrieved from

    Senge, P. M. (2015). How do you define a learning organization [video file]? Retrieved from

  7. Senge (2015) mentions a very interesting concept that’d I’d never heard of before “the ladder of inference.” Essentially this process is supposed to keep us from jumping to conclusions and as MindTools (2016) states it “describes the thinking process that we go through, usually without realizing it, to get from a fact to a decision or action.” The following is the way the ladder climbs (from the bottom to the top):

    Interpreted Realities
    Selected Realities
    Reality and Facts

    Since our beliefs often times have a crucial part in playing out how we react to a situation it is important to remember this process of thinking, making sure that our responses are first rooted in facts and then filtered through our philosophies. As a leader of an organization this is critical because it helps you to draw better conclusions and challenge yourself and other’s thought processes. No one wants a leader who flies off the handle and makes rash decisions, they want someone who bases their decisions on facts, but is also able to infer realities and merge the two together. Senge (2015) points out that the ladder of inference “is a tool we found that once people learn they never stop using and in teams it’s enormously powerful.” I know that this is something that I will utilize in my job from now on because I do see its value.

    APA References:

    Senge, P. (2015, June 4). How do you define a learning organization? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc2ruCErTok&feature=youtu.be.

    The Ladder of Inference: How to Avoid Jumping to Conclusions. (2016). Retrieved July 27, 2016, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_91.htm

  8. For your reference, here is a transcription of the interview:

    Jennifer Crumpton (Sarder TV Correspondent):

    “What is your definition of a learning organization and how can leaders build a learning organization? What types of resources do you need?”

    Peter Senge (Author of “The Fifth Discipline”):

    “Well, first off I would jettison the jargon. You know, a term like “the learning organization” is always to some degree going to be jargonny and therefore gets to be off-putting for people. Just think of it as people working together at their best. How do we grow organizations where that’s the norm and its a continual, relentless process to keep learning how to work together at our best? Because if you’re doing that you’re going to be learning.

    ‘As I said, there’s only two mindsets that can infiltrate an organization, control or learning, and its a question of which one is dominant. If learning dominates, I guarantee you’ll create all the different aspects of what we call a learning organization. I think that the how-to is obviously what all the work has always been about. That’s why there’s not only the original “Fifth Discipline,” there’s the “Fifth Discipline Fieldbook", there’s the “Dance of Change Fieldbook,” there’s even a field book strictly on doing this in educational contexts—its called “Schools That Learn”—and those field books are like 600 pages of stories and examples and tips and tools.

    ‘So, there’s a lot of how-to so you can’t really summarize it very completely in a brief form but it comes back to those three broad areas. There are tools we talked about before—the three broad areas. Fostering aspiration—there are tools for encouraging building personal mastery and building shared vision and creative tension is a very basic tool that individuals learn how to work with. There are tools for fostering reflection. The “ladder of inference” is a tool we found that once people learn they never stop using it and in teams its enormously powerful. Its basically just a more disciplined way to distinguish what actually happened from my interpretations and attributions about what happened—all my assumptions—and becoming disciplined in distinguishing fact from assumption, you might say. Assumptions are really important. Its not that they’re bad. You don’t ever get rid of assumptions. You can’t live without assumptions. The question is, are we disciplined in relating those to what’s actually happening.

    ‘So those are a set of tools. Then in systems understanding and seeing larger systems, there’s a whole set of tools; systems archetypes—seeing basic patterns of systemic activity like what we call “shifting the burden,” a pattern where there’s a problem and people focus quickly on a quick fix but they know there’s a deeper source to the problem and if they get caught up in the quick fix they never get to the deeper source. Understanding those systemic patterns—we call them “archetypal patterns,” system archetypes. So there’s tools all over the place.

    ‘You need to have tools to work with. That’s why all these big field books exist and a lot of those tools have evolved but there’s plenty out there. Then you also need to have a commitment to this. We often call it “the guiding ideas.” What does the organization stand for? In Bob Kegan’s recent book on deeply-developmental organizations he gives three examples of organizations that are very explicitly—by their philosophy, by their actions, by their day-to-day practice—dedicated to the continual development of their people. So you need to have, you might say, a philosophic framework that orients you and then you need to have time. The three things we say that always matter in practice are…do you have tools?…do you have a guiding philosophy that we often call “guiding ideas” that help people orient that we’re not here just to make money? Yeah we want to be a good business but we want to be a good business that also grows people and we really mean it…and do you have time?

    ‘Do you have the internal, we often call them, “learning infrastructures.” If there’s no time to reflect it doesn’t matter how skillful you are at reflection. If there’s no way to organize and study what’s being learned in different places—people doing this and learning this, but over here people are wrestling with the same problem and they have no clue what the people have learned over here because there’s no infrastructure that shares that learning. In the software industry now—its amazing and partly this is because its being done more online—they’re coordinating these distributed development teams remotely so they actually have a lot of data and they can share it. So, that we often call the “learning infrastructure”—the time, the resources to study and learn and help people learn from each other. Bring people together. I know its mundane, but do people ever get together? If they get together, do they do something other than watch stupid PowerPoints? That’s the dumbest thing in the whole world. Why would you bring people together—which is a big undertaking—and not use the time for real learning? Do you know how to do that? Do you have the tools? If you have the time, do you know how to use the tools?

    ‘So, you know, for example, the (unintelligible) organization is really good at this. They’re really good at hosting meetings where people actually spend time really learning. They have world cafes, one of the tools thats propagated widely in our networks, as a way to organize big meetings. In any event, you need all three of those. You need tools, you need a philosophy, and you need infrastructure to make it all real.”

    APA Reference

    Senge, P. (2015, June 4). How do you define a learning organization? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc2ruCErTok&feature=youtu.be.

  9. How can I reference this video clip in APA. Should I put Senge (2015) or Russell Sarder(2015) ? Thanks for sharing this video

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