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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but perhaps too ambitious...?
System thinking is an interesting concept. Some of the background theory draws upon feedback control theory. The author acknowledges this but still claims the novelty/originality of the approach, which is probably true in the field of management. However, system thinking should be taken with a great pinch of salt, as it is difficult to reconduct many of the intricacies of...
Published on 17 Aug 2001 by The Flying Dutchman

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction of Systems Thinking; I just don't believe
Senge definitively is an inspriring writer, and in that sense I did like th Fifth Discipline and the accompanying handbook. If its sole purpose would be to introduce people to looking at what they are doing from a more holistic perspective , I must say, he has succeeded really well. But, in my view, he could have done that in a few chapters in stead of writing two...
Published on 21 Jun 2000


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction of Systems Thinking; I just don't believe, 21 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
Senge definitively is an inspriring writer, and in that sense I did like th Fifth Discipline and the accompanying handbook. If its sole purpose would be to introduce people to looking at what they are doing from a more holistic perspective , I must say, he has succeeded really well. But, in my view, he could have done that in a few chapters in stead of writing two massive books on it. Those books suggest 'control'.
I do see a fundamental flaw, though. All his balancing and reinforcing feed back loops are probably helping, but they remind me too much of Ptolemeic epicircles, explaining everything. We have rejected those long ago. I think there is a fundamental difference between systems thinking and what I call 'complexity thinking'. Complexity thinking, or perhaps even better 'complicity thinking' (Cohen and Stewart), looks at emerging simplicities and (sadly) the inherent impossibility to control them. How do I recognise these patterns? Via feed back loops? Which?
Senge does hit a few nice notes with me, and he certainly goes a lot further than many others but concepts of 'living companies' (also Arie de Geus) and 'fieldbooks' sound a bit too 'consulty' to me.
I recommend everyone to read books like 'Striking a Balance' (Roos and Oliver, 2000), 'The Soul at Work' (Lewin and Birute, 1999) and 'The Next Common Sense' (Lissack and Roos, 1999). If you really want a new approach, please read 'The Collaps of Chaos' (Cohen and Stewart, 1994) and start anew from there.
Don't expect a fieldbook, though, or a nice theory of everything.
Frank
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but perhaps too ambitious...?, 17 Aug 2001
By 
The Flying Dutchman (The Hague, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
System thinking is an interesting concept. Some of the background theory draws upon feedback control theory. The author acknowledges this but still claims the novelty/originality of the approach, which is probably true in the field of management. However, system thinking should be taken with a great pinch of salt, as it is difficult to reconduct many of the intricacies of real life to series of feedback loops. Real life is largely "fuzzy" in nature - chaos theory, stochastic processes are examples of powerful approaches that try to deal with the enormous complexity of the real world phenomena, including macro/micro economics and business management.
The book is a bit overstretched in other areas (or "disciplines", e.g personal mastery, etc.), which have significantly less "staying power".
Perhaps a new edition of this book should include an assessment of the successes and failures of the approach. Some of the references to "real world" adopters of the book's principles and doctrines would be interesting. Quite a good presentation after all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT FOR INTRODUCING SYSTEMS THINKING TO BUSINESS PEOPLE, 19 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
Thinking about how one thing affects another either comes naturally to you or it doesn't. For most people it is the latter. For these people, The Fifth Discipline is a wonderful gift. Our emotions tell us to do one thing, and that one thing is usually not in our own best interest. I had heard clients of mine talk about the beer game, and I was delighted to see it described in this book. For the average reader, this book will make you expert enough in systems thinking to be much more successful with your decisions. If you feel that you would like more help in this area, please read The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. It is a very helpful companion book that will give you practical advice for implementing what you learn in this book. If you have colleagues or friends who often make decisions that do not turn out well, it may be because they do not understand how to think about business as a system. Give them this book, and you will have done the person a great favor. Follow-up by discussing what they have learned, and help them with an exercise or two from the Fieldbook. You'll be glad you did. If you decide from reading The Fifth Discipline that you want to establish and maintain a learning organization, you must read The Dance of Change, which is remarkably good at helping you sustain improvements in your organization. For your personal decision-making, I also recommend Smart Choices.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Introducing Systems Thinking to Business People, 30 May 2004
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Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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Thinking about how one thing affects another either comes naturally to you or it doesn't. For most people it is the latter. For these people, The Fifth Discipline is a wonderful gift.
Our emotions tell us to do one thing, and that one thing is usually not in our own best interest.
I had heard clients of mine talk about the beer game, and I was delighted to see it described in this book.
For the average reader, this book will make you expert enough in systems thinking to be much more successful with your decisions. If you feel that you would like more help in this area, please read The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook. It is a very helpful companion book that will give you practical advice for implementing what you learn in this book. Follow that up with The Dance of Change which focuses on how to sustain a learning organization.
If you have colleagues or friends who often make decisions that do not turn out well, it may be because they do not understand how to think about business as a system. Give them this book, and you will have done the person a great favor. Follow-up by discussing what they have learned, and help them with an exercise or two from the Fieldbook. You'll be glad you did.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking Work - A Must Read for Every Business Thinker, 3 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
For the "learning organization," success depends most on how well the organization thinks. Senge's breakthrough came when he first comprehended and then articulated thinking as an organizational priority for modern business. His work, The Fifth Discipline, left many in the academic and business worlds wondering "Why didn't I think of that?" The answer: they had considered thinking as essentially an individual task and communicating thought as a group activity. Senge proved the matchless worth of systems thinking, that is of treating thinking at its most fundamental level as a group learning experience. After reading The Fifth Discipline you will want to read challenging new works such as "Why Didn't I Think of That? - Think the Unthinkable and Achieve Creative Greatness" where the author takes you to the highest levels of current creative managerial thought so that you, unlike your predecessors in the pre-Senge days, will not end up having to ask yourself "Why didn't I think of that?"
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new way of thinking about business systems., 30 April 2014
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An excellent concept in business that has not been covered by other authors. A must read. Get it bought now!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good stuff, 15 Feb 2014
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Ana (Portugal) - See all my reviews
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The book is in good shape and was delivered on time.
It is a very insightful book about the problems in implementing learning organizations, driving us into the causes and consequent needs of behaviour change.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect!, 28 Dec 2012
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I bought this book using the Kindle app on my i-pad and was delighted at how easy and quick it was to do so.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a look for Systems Thinking, 4 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
Most accessible book I've read on Systems Thinking so far. Good examples and narratives, generally pretty OK to relate to. Can be a little evangelical and idealistic in places but then most books of this type tend to be. The fundamentals are there though so it is certainly worth a read for anyone wanting to know more about Systems Thinking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and interesting, 23 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization: First edition (Century business) (Paperback)
The book is a nice introduction of systems thinking, but perhaps it would have benefitted from explaining the nature of systems theory in terms of differential equations. Not that any equations themselves had to be used, but the idea of how levels, flows and feedback play part in the models and how the models relate to the empirical world could perhaps have made the book feel more like science and less like indoctrination. The discussion of mental models was particularly fluffy, I felt. If we were talking about mathematical models, I could see his point, but taking any sort of scenario as a model causes problems if we want to challenge it in order to learn from experience. On the other hand, comparing the systems theory with game theory, these views clearly represent diametrically different ways to understand the world, and I think Senge is quite good at explaining the spiritual side of systems theory, but it would have improved matter if he had explained in more detail how the systems view contrasts with the more typical game theoretical view of business.
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