Customer Review

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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