Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines Essay.
Peter Senge was born in 1947, and he graduated in an engineering Stanford and then undertake a Master in Social Systems modelling at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and after that he completed his PhD on Management (Mark,2001). According to Peter Senge , learning organizations are “ Organizations where people continuously expand their capacity to create the results they really want , where expanded and new patterns of thinking are developed, where collective goal is set free, and where people are continuously learning to see the whole together”.
The basic needs for such organization is that in situations of continuous change only those are adaptive, flexible and productive will succeed. In order for this to happen, organizations need to find out how to get people’s capacity and commitment to learn at all levels. According to Peter Senge, learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human, and be able to re-create. This applied to both organizations and individuals. For a learning organization it is not enough to survive and “adaptive learning” is important and necessary.
But for a learning organization, “generative learning” must be joined with “adaptive learning”, learning that enhances the capacity to create (Mark,2001).
The dimension that differentiates learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines. The five that Peter Senge identifies to be leading to innovative learning organizations are:
(a) Systems Thinking
(b) Personal Mastery
(c) Mental Models
(d) Building Shared Vision
(e) Team Learning (Mark,2001)
2.0 The Usefulness of Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines As a Tool in Helping Managers
(a) Systems Thinking
It is an idea of the learning organization developed from a body of work called systems thinking. This is a conceptual framework that allows managers to educate their employees to study businesses as bounded subject. Managers use this method when assessing their company and have information systems that measure the performance of the organization as a whole. Systems thinking relate that all the characteristics must be possible at once in an organization for it to be a learning organization. If some characteristics go missing then the manager will have a hard time to make the organization achieve its goal (Boydell,1999).
(b) Personal Mastery
Personal mastery is when an individual or an employee is committed to the process. There will be a competitive advantage for the organization whose workforce can learn quickly compared to other workforce of other organizations. Individual learning is done through staff training and development but learning cannot be forced upon an employee who is not receptive into learning. Research has shown that most learning in the workplace is related rather than product of formal training. In that case, it is important for a manager to develop a culture where personal mastery is practised in daily life. A learning organization has been defined as the sum of individual learning, but there must be mechanisms for individual learning to be transferred into organizational learning (Boydell,1999).
(c) Mental Models
Mental models are the assumptions held by employees and organizations. These models must be challenged in order to become a learning organization. Employees tend to support theories which are what they intend to follow and theories-in-use are what they actually do. Similar to that, organizations have “memories” which preserve certain behaviours, values and norms. It is important for managers to replace confrontational attitudes with open culture that promotes inquiry and trust. In order to achieve this, the learning organization needs mechanisms for locations and assessing organizational theories of action. Unwanted learning needs to be rejected in a process called “unlearning” (Boydell,1999)
(d) Shared Vision
Shared vision is important for managers in motivating staff learning to learn, as it creates a common identity that provides focus and energy of learning. Shared vision is the most successful visions build on the employees’ visions of the employees from all levels of organization but the creation of shared vision can be hindered by traditional structures where the company vision is imposed from above. In order to impose shared vision, learning organization needs to have flat, decentralized organizational structures. Shared vision is usually to succeed against rival organizations, but Senge states that there should also be long term goals that are intrinsic within the company (Boydell,1999).
(e) Team Learning
Team learning is the accumulation of individual learning. The advantage of shared learning is that employees grow more quickly and problem solving range is improved through better access to expertise and knowledge. Team learning has features such as boundary crossing and openness which helps organizations to make decisions in an efficient way. Team learning needs employees to engage in discussion and dialogue thus team members must develop shared meaning, open communication and shared understanding (Boydell,1999).
3.0 Other frameworks in Delivering Customer Value
(a) Micheal Porter Value Chain
Value chain is a concept or a framework from business management what which first described and popularized by Micheal Porter in 1985. It is a model that helps to analyse specific activities through which firms can create competitive advantage and value to customers (Value Based Management,2012). Micheal Porter identified a set of interrelated activities common to many range of firms:
* Inbound logistics: Include the warehousing, inventory control, receiving of input materials. * Operations: Are the activities that transform the inputs into the final product. * Outbound Logistics: Activities that required getting the finished product to the customer that includes order fulfilment, warehousing and etc. * Marketing & Sales: Activities to get buyers to purchase product or services by advertising, channel selection and pricing.
* Service: Activities to maintain and improve the product’s value including repair services and customer support or service. * Procurement: Purchasing of raw materials and other inputs used in the value creating activities. * Technology Development: Research and development, technology development, process automation used to support the value chain activities. * Human Resource Management: Activities that includes with development, recruiting and compensation of employees. * Firm Infrastructure: Activities such as legal, finance and quality management (Quick,2010).
There are many differences that can be noted between Peters Senge’s 5 Principle and Micheal Porter’s Value Chain in delivering customer value. Senge’s principle focuses more on internal marketing where the value emphasizes more on improving the relation between employees and the organization. Organizations need to keep a good relation and provide them with efficient training and privileges in order for their employees to provide a good value to customers. On the other hand, Porter’s Value Chain emphasizes on the value delivered to customers through department division. Each department needs to function and be efficient because they interrelate with one another. If one department doesn’t perform at their best, it will affect the other department and cause problems in delivering the value to customers.
(b) Total Quality Management
TQM is a way of managing for the future, and it’s wider in its application that just to assure product or service quality. It is a method of managing business processes and people to ensure complete customer satisfaction at every stage internally and externally. TQM is a combined leadership, which results in an organization doing the right things the first time (Dti,2010). To be successful, an organization needs to concentrate on a few key elements:
* Leadership: Leadership in TQM requires the managers to provide an inspiring vision and make strategic directions. The supervisor must be committed in leading his employees. A manager needs to understand TQM, believe it and then demonstrate their belief through daily practises.
* Employee Involvement: Employee involvement is when the employees are given the opportunity to give in input and allowing them an impact on decisions affecting their jobs.
* Recognition: Recognition should be provided for both suggestions and achievements for teams as well as individuals. Recognition comes in different places, ways and times such as personal letter from top management, award banquets, trophies, and good performers can be recognized in front of other employees and etc.
* Communication: The success of an organization through TQM demands communication with and among all organization members, suppliers and customers. Communication acts as a vital link between all elements of TQM.
* Teamwork: People feel more comfortable bringing up problems that occur and can get help from other workers to find a solution and put into place.
Total Quality Management (TQM) and Senge’s 5 principles have quite number differences. TQM focuses more on product and service quality that needs to be distributed to customers. The key element of TQM is the quality that is to be distributed to customers to deliver their value. Quality of product and service is obtained through a good relation among employees, managers and the organization in whole. Senge’s 5 principles focus on the same aim but in a different perspective. Senge’s principles focus on the employees’ relation with the organization. When employees have a good relation with the organization, there will be an automatic value delivered to their customers.
4.0 Examples of companies
(a) Finkelstein Metals Ltd. Bronze and Brass
Finkelstein is a 50 years old company which manufactures non-ferrous metal castings. Finkelstein mentions that Jill Barad one of their employee in failing to acknowledge and learn from mistakes in a timely manner. In that learning company, Barad first overlooked the problems the organization was having. An opportunity to verify the failure came when the third quarter 1999 earnings turned out to be a loss of $ 150 million rather than a profit of $ 50 million as Barad expected. Rather than addressing the failure, Barad remained silent and predicted significant profit for the quarter and unfortunately there was a loss of $ 184 million again. Again, rather than informing the failure and learning from it , she repeated the same mistakes for the next two quarters and resulting the same mistake for a total of four quarters (Edmondson, 2010).
This example shows that the employee from the company did not have the courage to face her failure and unfortunately she didn’t discuss her failure and problem with her higher authority or co-workers the first time she got hit of the failure. To overcome barriers in a company, organizational leaders must take initiative to develop systems and procedures that make available the data necessary identify and learn from failures. Not only the leaders, but as mentioned in Senge’s 5 principles, team learning is one of the important element. With discussing the issue or problem with other team members and higher authorities, the solution to the problem will be easily resolved. Since there will be many members involves, there will be more beneficial ideas and tactics to solve a certain problem arise in the company. (b) Electricite De France ( EDF; Electricity Of France)
Electricite de France is the second largest electric utility company in the world. They are headquartered in Paris, France with €65.2 billion revenue. They operate 57 nuclear power plants and provide an example of a learning organization. The organization has a habit of tracking each plant for anything even if it is a slightest problem out of the ordinary and has a policy of quickly investigating and publicly reporting the problem to the entire system so that the whole system can work and learn. Feedback is also an effective way of learning organization. Feedback from the employees, customers and other sources can expose failures including failure to meet goals, to satisfy customer requirements and communication breakdowns (Cannon,2009).
This company practises mental model, team learning and personal mastery. The employees are always keeping in watch of the issues that may arise from their plant and when they notify a slightest problem they evenly let know everyone in the organization so that the others can learn as well. The employees assume that there is an issue in the plant which makes them mental model, they work instantly on solving the problem which arises which proves that they are personal mastery and finally they let know everyone in the organization and get feedback from other co-workers, and customers and this proves that they are in team learning.
According to Peter Senge, change is learning and learning is change. It is possible for organization to learn to change as it is known that everyone is a learner. Every organization needs to have “learning organization” built in within them. Organizations where people continuously expand their capacity to create the results they desire, where new and expansive patterns are created, where aspirations are set free, and where people continuously learn to learn together in a team. Managers need to implement these 5 principles into their working condition in order to create lively and reliable employees in the end to create a never ending customer value. The drawing together of the 5 disciplines allows the organization to approach a more holistic understanding of organizational life.