The Fifth Discipline

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I have been planning to read this book for a long time. This book met me during Team Mastery often, but I did not feel ready for such a book. I found myself too far from the topic of the Fifth Discipline, I did not have a reading habit, and I just could not get myself to read it. During the first month in Tiimiakatemia® Prague (TAP) all the struggles just disappeared. Suddenly I felt I NEED to read it, for several reasons. I needed to deepen my knowledge of Leading Thoughts, how beneficial they are for the team and the community, how to create them, how to live them! I felt part of a larger learning unit and felt a little lost. How can I contribute, what is my role in it? Suddenly, I saw that team learning was taking place around me and potential learning “organizations” were starting to form… and I knew so little about all this. Plus! If I had known this book a year ago, I would have saved myself a great deal of trouble (the laws of the fifth discipline).

(I have read the book in Czech, so I may not use the exact terms of the disciplines and concepts.)

At the first, the book seemed to me as an insight into system dynamics, system thinking, and for me very important system archetypes. As a result, I realized how far the consequences of our actions and decisions could be, because we do not usually get direct / immediate consequences, experience, or feedback. Finally, I understood that this is the fifth umbrella discipline - the ability to know the complexity and control of SYSTEM THINKING.

The PERSONAL MASTERY discipline has shown me how often I lose focus on what is really important to me. I was not even able to step away from the happening of events and see clearly the present fact of where I am. I realized that my dissatisfaction stems too much from a gap between my present reality and the vision (creative tension), which I refuse to abandon, and that is my devotion to the truth. The lack of relaxation was ultimately a liberating finding (emotional tension). I do not perceive the obstacles that I have overcome in previous periods so much now that I realize much more that creation was taking place. Suddenly I felt like a victim to myself for a while, but as the book says, we are neither victims nor culprits, but human beings dominated by forces we have not yet learned to perceive. I think I may not suffer from a structural contradiction, because I believe that everyone can fulfil their desires if they want to be capable of it and everyone is worthy of it. I believe there is enough for everyone. Nevertheless, I feel the forces preventing me from effective achieving of my goals, perhaps these are the environment in which I am trying to achieve them, the lack of transparency of the system, or too much emphasis on intention at every moment of action. I have not figured it out yet.

The discipline of MENTAL MODELS brought me an understanding that we did not fight people, but we fought our and their mental models during the preparation of the TAP. We used to spend more time discovering, auditing and improving internal images. The core of the discipline of the mental models is thought/mind openness, which leads to an inner glimpse, leads to awareness of prejudices and limitations of our thinking, and how our thinking and action contribute to the emergence of problems. Mental models even at the beginning of TAP fascinated me, I watched how we still lack skills in this area: practice of thinking, learning from practice, or advocated theory versus applied theories. Impatience led us to jumps in abstraction, and in the beginning of the dialogues I watched how many remained unspoken: teampreneurs did not share their assumptions, ideas, it was not clear what influenced their actions, and the so-called left column was hidden. However, with the emerging complication, frustration, or problems in the team, the situation improves, although some things still remain unspoken, progress was visible in just three months. I would very much like everyone to act in harmony with themselves, so that what people say and what they do is consistent. So far, the skills of examining the opinions of others, the ability to defend one’s own opinions, and to ask research questions are not very visible during the dialogues. Joint learning is not yet such effective as well. However, it is good that teampreneurs are worried about it, even if they don’t know how to get out of it yet. In TAP I have the opportunity to see how teampreneurs are developing deeper and faster than I have ever seen in academic studies. However, they still have unused capacity for greater sharing of their knowledge, which each of them has individually learned and to more formalize the terminology.

A SHARED VISION is the discipline that led me to this book (although the Fifth Discipline Field book would be more important for the purposes I needed – but it does not matter, it was important to take the first step and now I know I need to go through the Field book also). Thanks to this chapter, I understand the meaning of shared vision in a learning organization. A shared vision adds focus and energy to learning; it is the helm that gives the learning process a firm direction in times of crisis. I also understood what place a personal vision has in a shared vision. I have worked for many years in large corporations and I have never been part of creating a shared vision. Despite the fact that shared visions are to emerge from personal visions and to extend personal visions. The attitudes towards the vision were of great interest to me. This made me more understanding why teampreneurs have different attitudes towards creating, understanding the importance and acceptance of leading thoughts. I would very much like to work in an environment where I would be surrounded by people with an attitude of “committed engagement”, “strong agreement” or “true will”. During the 24h camp, we spent a lot of time in dialogues about our own personal values and visions, or about the difference between terms of vision and mission. All this resulted in the formulation of mission, then of values and vision. At the end of the whole leading thoughts process, I experienced directly that it is not about what is vision about, it is about how vision works.

We do business to learn, to live fully we earn. (November, 2019)

I am pleased that the book also discusses possible dysfunctions of the vision. For me, the book is a guide to which I can return, depending on my path.

Finally, the TEAM LEARNING discipline. What we learn all the time in TAP is probably the most important discipline for creating a learning organization. This discipline has a lot to do with the discipline of mental models. I have been caught since the beginning of this chapter! I nodded at it all and thought, “That’s exactly what is happening to us, we are shattering the energy of individual team members, we are not going in one direction… some team members work very hard, but their effort are not effectively routed into team performance… we are losing a lot of energy! … we do not understand what we can create together!”. Thanks to previous chapter, I already knew that it was a problem of lack of common purpose, shared vision, but also mutual ignorance and ignorance of what teampreneurs can form together, how they can complement each other. We are only in the very beginning of team learning skill and its dimensions are really critical for us. Pervasive thinking about complex problems often complicates impatience, we do not make full use of our thought potential. Sometimes we have bright moments and two heads are better than one, so I believe we are on the right track. We create a safe environment and learn to express ourselves, respect and think about our opinions, create an environment in which everyone is open to discussion and dialog. We build inventive and coordinated action. Already during the second month of study we started to ask questions related to work confidence. Some did not pay attention to each other, they did not take notice of each other, and they did not rely on all their actions because their actions were not a suitable complement to the actions of all other members. Both teams communicate with each other, share events, dysfunctions, and so perhaps the role of the team members relative to the teams outside TAP is well established. They already interact with each other in team learning, improving in discussions and dialogue. There is a long way to go before we can switch smoothly between dialogue and discussion (and vice versa), with full awareness of their rules and goals. When I read about the wars of abstraction in this chapter, I had to laugh. Defence routines which prevent proper learning. In the face of the dispute, teampreneurs sought to smooth out different views, expressing ubiquitous views that were not conflicting. Perhaps we have started to overcome this problem because of Covey’s habit of “try to understand first, and then be understood”, or “start with the idea of the end”, or because of the increasing / deepening trust or sensitivity / kindness with which they start talking. Questioning and cognition skills have begun to develop, and the differences that often result from a different understanding of words or expressions are being understood. They don’t push their own opinions to the forefront of talks so much, they don’t have to say everything, they started to think about when and what to say and what it will do with the dynamics. We make progress in each dialogue. There is still much space for team learning. Few fragments of the improved situation: Recently we have been addressing the problem of voting, where some individuals submit to group pressures of to many hands raised. With less hesitation, rest of team finally raise their hands and give their consent (even if they are not convinced). Or situations where conflicts of opinions, ideas, and visions are finally beginning to emerge. We practice all the time. We regularly use after action review, so I liked this after action review (AAR) comment in the book: it reinforces thought activities, learning and awareness throughout the system. Each event is an opportunity for learning. The book shows a simpler form of AAR than we use in TAP. It is based only on three questions: What happened? What did we expect? What lessons can a difference make?


The following statements / ideas, which are great for me:

"An error is an event whose full benefit has not yet been turned into your advantage."

"The solution to all the problems is to get to know each other's opinions."

“Companies that consider profit as their purpose are similar to people who think the life purpose is breathing. At the same time, identifying the purpose of a company with its economic outcome condemns such a company to financial mediocrity. ”

“You can't go to a good place the wrong way.”

"In nature, order continually arises from apparent chaos, while in management we constantly strive to introduce order because we fear that chaos will prevail."

"We have to work smarter, not harder."

"Happiness is a general feeling that your life is moving in the right direction and that you have the opportunity to push through and change something."

“Mostly things are not going as we expect. However, the potential values of unexpected developments are seldom used. When things go against our expectations, we immediately switch to problem-solving mode and respond or simply increase our commitment - without taking the time to see if this unexpected development tells us something important about our assumptions. ”

"Successful people who reduce their expectations and demands on themselves are gradually less successful."

Finally, the story of the starfish with the conclusion "for the starfish that had meaning" or three "thresholds", respectively forms of openness (mind, heart and will).

This book has expanded the vision of my role, or its refinement. It is still about my own action, the identification and naming of 7 learning disorders. I am where I am to support team learning through dialogue, discussion, acceptance of current situations, giving space for improvement. Balancing dialogue and its research questions, revealing differences and disagreements with discussions for consensus or decision. To create a safe environment in which to develop the skills of questioning, thinking and cognition. Encourage team entrepreneurs to raise the most complex, sensitive and controversial topics that are critical to team work. Helping teams link past and present so that lessons learned from the past can be used to improve current results, taking greater care to reflect reflections on future plans.

And I really wish to play a game of beer distribution. I do not understand how it could turn out like this! So I would like to know how I would stand alone :-D.

Kniha: The Fifth Discipline: The Art , Autor: Peter M. Senge

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