In a constantly changing world, businesses need to be constantly changing to keep up. The trouble is, as anybody with even a limited experience of business knows, the majority of change programmes fail. Reengineering, Total Quality Management, Empowerment, all tend to peter out unfinished in most companies, despite the application of substantial resources and the best efforts of top management.
The premise of this book is that the solution is not more of the same-- more experts, more advice or better leadership. (In fact the book takes some pains to establish that business leaders are rarely powerful enough to drive change from the top.) What is needed, it argues, is a better understanding of the factors that limit change and the nurturing of leadership at all levels in the organisation. Peter Senge and his team identify 10 factors such as "not enough time, fear and anxiety" and "not relevant" which obstruct change and they aim to provide a framework for dealing with these obstacles. Senge is a senior lecturer at MIT and Chairman of the Society for Occupational Learning and this book draws heavily on his previous works, Fifth Discipline and The Fifth Discipline Field Book.
It is serious and substantial. But what separates it from the many other books on similar themes are its detailed analysis and structure. This is a text book bearing many of the same qualities as texts you might have used at school. In modern parlance it as an "interactive book"--but of the highest order. The reader isn't merely a passive audience, instead he or she is invited to browse, to read the book in any direction and to dip in and out in any order they like. The reader is encouraged to participate with exercises and techniques and to engage others in their organisation to debate issues. --Alex Benady
PRAISE FOR THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE SERIES 'If you believe, as I do, that people are the only long-term competitive advantage and lifelong learning is the way to fully develop that advantage, you must read this book. It's about the real work, the work of implementation!' -Richard F. Teerlink, President and CEO, Harley-Davidson, Inc. 'Senge's message of growth and prosperity holds strong appeal for today's business leaders.' --Fortune 'Peter Senge's concepts take work. They take time. They take personal commitment. But, I believe, they hold the potential for sustained success.' --Robert E. Allen, Chairman of the Board, AT&T 'Peter Senge's advocacy of the learning organization helped begin a revolution in the workplace. And, the relevance of Senge's work is growing rather than diminishing over time. As more businesses go global, the need to overcome psychological barriers to necessary organizational change increases.' --Management Today 'A landmark book.' --Christian Century 'This should be a valuable guide and reference to those leading, or simply taking part in, organizational transformation. There's a lot to learn and use in the Fieldbook.' -Philip Carroll, President and CEO, Shell Oil Company