The fifth discipline by Peter M. Senge is one of those books that truly make a difference. It is referred to in many different contexts, and it played an important role in shaping the concepts of the learning organization.
He uses a cool analogy, and compares it to the first succesful commercial airplane the DC-3, which incorporated 5 new technologies. All 5 new technologies were needed to make the DC-3 the huge success it was, and so, he argues, there exists 5 disciplines fundamental to learning organizations. These are Systems Thinking, Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Building Shared Vision and Team Learning.
There are many new insights in the book (even though it’s from way back in 1990), but the key realization for me was this: It takes time! If you want to improve at anything, you need to devote time to training and learning. This is especially important in a time when many organizations try to improve productivity by reducing personnel, increasing the workload of the employees. A higher workload means less time to reflect on your performance, to learn and become better – or in Peter Senges terms to practice the 5 disciplines.