Book Review: The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, by Peter M. Senge

 

Reviewed by Bruce Rhodes

 

February 11, 2003

 

A thoughtful alternative to management by putting out fires

 

The Fifth Discipline is a liberating work, inasmuch as it offers a well thought out methodology for creating organizations that have the chance to learn in a purposeful, sustainable way. Mr. Senge provides a sound set of principles to supplement, if not replace, the traditional management toolkit of reactive, linear thinking that is sadly primitive and inadequate in this world of growing complexity.


Contrary to comments I've heard and read in respect to this book, I found The Fifth Discipline to be fairly easily digestible, and not a 'heavy read' as some have suggested. To be sure, the concepts are often quite profound, and challenge traditional views toward management practice; however, Mr. Senge's agreeable writing style delivers the material comfortably and effectively.


I've had the chance to hear Mr. Senge speak at 'Systems Thinking in Action' conferences, and concluded on those occasions that he is a much-needed visionary with a firm grasp of reality. Reading The Fifth Discipline has only reinforced my high level of regard for him.