Peter Senge – Learning Organizations

Peter Senge

Peter Senge – Learning Organizations – Contents

  • Peter Senge Biography
  • Peter Senge – Big Idea:
    • Learning Organizations
  • Interesting Facts and Insights about Peter Senge
  • Career Advice Quotes by Peter Senge
  • Business Advice Quotes by Peter Senge
  • Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Peter Senge
  • Peter Senge Inspirational Quotes
  • Books by Peter Senge
  • Questions about Peter Senge
  • Peter Senge – Videos

Peter Senge Biography

Peter Senge (born 1947) is a systems scientist who is a lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Senge is also co-faculty at the New England Complex Systems Institute, and the founder of the Society for Organizational Learning.

Peter Senge is the author of the book “The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization.” The Fifth Discipline is focused on group problem solving using the systems thinking method to convert companies into learning organizations.


Peter Senge – Big Idea: Learning Organizations

In his 1990 book, “The Fifth Discipline”, Peter Senge focused on the systems thinking method required for converting companies into Learning Organizations.

The five disciplines represent approaches theories and methods for developing three core learning capabilities: fostering aspiration, developing reflective conversation, and understanding complexity. The five disciplines of a “learning organization” are:

  1. “Personal Mastery: The discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.
  2. Mental Models: Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions and generalizations that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.
  3. Shared Vision: Building a shared vision is a practice of unearthing shared pictures of the future that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance.
  4. Team Learning: Starts with ‘dialogue,’ the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into genuine ‘thinking together.’
  5. “Systems Thinking: The Fifth Discipline that integrates the other four disciplines.

Learning Disabilities

Deleterious habits or mindsets, which create “learning disabilities,” include:

  1. I am my position
  2. The enemy is out there
  3. The Illusion of Taking Charge
  4. The Fixation on Events
  5. The Parable of the Boiling frog
  6. The Delusion of Learning from Experience
  7. The Myth of the Management Team

In 1997, Harvard Business Review identified “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge, as one of the seminal management books of the previous 75 years.


Interesting Facts and Insights about Peter Senge

  • Born: Peter Michael Senge was born in 1947, in Stanford, California.
  • Engineering: Peter Senge received a B.S. in Aerospace engineering from Stanford University.
  • Masters: Senge earned an M.S. in social systems modeling from MIT in 1972.
  • Doctorate: Senge earned a Ph.D. in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1978.
  • Co-Founder: Peter Senge is co-Founder and sits on the Board of Directors of the Academy for Systems Change.
  • Academy: The Academy for Systems Change is a non-profit organization that works with leaders to grow their ability to lead in complex social systems.
  • Meditation: Senge has had a regular meditation practice since 1996. He recommends meditation or similar forms of contemplative practice.
  • Author: Senge emerged in the 1990s as a significant leader in organizational development with the book “The Fifth Discipline.”
  • HBR: In 1997, Harvard Business Review identified “The Fifth Discipline” as one of the seminal management books of the previous 75 years.
  • Strategist: Peter Senge was named “Strategist of the Century” by the Journal of Business Strategy, which said that he was one of a very few people who “had the greatest impact on the way we conduct business today.”

Career Advice Quotes by Peter Senge

“The journey is the reward.”

“All great things have small beginnings.”

“The key to success isn’t just thinking about what we are doing but doing something about what we are thinking.”

“Courage is simply doing whatever is needed in pursuit of the vision.”

“Knowledge is constructed, not transferred.”

“People get used to having experts who can solve their problems for them; people can then easily lose motivation to develop their own capacities.”

“Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing ‘patterns of change’ rather than static ‘snapshots.’”

“The most effective people are those who can “hold” their vision while remaining committed to seeing current reality clearly.”

“Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively.”

“The committed person doesn’t play by the rules of the game. He is responsible for the game. If the rules of the game stand in the way of achieving the vision, he will find ways to change the rules.”

“Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning, we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning, we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning, we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life”


“People get used to having experts who can solve their problems for them; people can then easily lose motivation to develop their own capacities.”

– Peter Senge

Business Advice Quotes by Peter Senge

“Don’t push growth; remove the factors limiting growth.”

“The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization.”

“Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing.”

“Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.”

“I believe benchmarking best practices can open people’s eyes as to what is possible, but it can also do more harm than good, leading to piecemeal copying and playing catch-up.”

“Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.”

“The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”

“Learning organizations are where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.”

“I believe that the prevailing system of management is, at its core, dedicated to mediocrity. It forces people to work harder and harder to compensate for failing to tap the spirit and collective intelligence that characterizes working together at their best.”

“The committed person doesn’t play by the rules of the game. He is responsible for the game. If the rules of the game stand in the way of achieving the vision, he will find ways to change the rules.”


“The most effective people are those who can “hold” their vision while remaining committed to seeing current reality clearly”

– Peter Senge

Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Peter Senge

“Leadership is about creating new realities.”

“A learning organization is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”

“In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.”

“I often say that leadership is deeply personal and inherently collective. That’s a paradox that effective leaders have to embrace.”

“Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures of images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.”

“People with high levels of personal mastery…cannot afford to choose between reason and intuition, or head and heart, any more than they would choose to walk on one leg or see with one eye.”

“Vision without systems thinking ends up painting lovely pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there.”

“To listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words. You listen not only to the ‘music,’ but to the essence of the person speaking.”

“We will never transform the prevailing system of management without transforming our prevailing system of education. They are the same system.”

“A shared vision is not an idea…it is rather, a force in people’s hearts…at its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question ‘What do we want to create?”

“You cannot force commitment, what you can do…You nudge a little here, inspire a little there, and provide a role model. Your primary influence is the environment you create.”

“Trusting people to be creative and constructive when given more freedom does not imply an overly optimistic belief in the perfectibility of human nature.”


“Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.”

– Peter Senge

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“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”

– Peter Senge

Peter Senge Inspirational Quotes

“The world is made of Circles. And we think in straight Lines.”

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”

“In the presence of greatness, pettiness disappears. In the absence of a great dream, pettiness prevails.”

“Mastery of creative tension brings out the capacity for perseverance and patience. Time is an ally.”

“Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning.”

“Scratch the surface of most cynics and you find a frustrated idealist — someone who made the mistake of converting his ideals into expectations.”

“Like a pane of glass framing and subtly distorting our vision, mental models determine what we see.”

“When young people develop basic leadership and collaborative learning skills, they can be a formidable force for change.”

“It is not the absence of defensiveness that characterizes learning teams but the way defensiveness is faced”

“Breakthroughs come when people learn how to take the time to stop and examine their assumptions.”

“Over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning.”

“Collaboration is vital to sustaining what we call profound or really deep change because, without it, organizations are just overwhelmed by the forces of the status quo. ”

“When you ask people what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience.”


“The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”

– Peter Senge

Books by Peter Senge

  • The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Seng, 1990
  • The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, by Peter Senge, 1994
  • Schools That Learn: A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares about Education, by Nelda Cambron-McCabe and Peter Senge, 2000
  • The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, by Peter M. Senge, Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, Joe Laur, Sara Schley, 2010
  • The Power of Presence, by Peter Senge, 2008
  • Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of Future, by Peter Senge, 2004
  • Presence: Exploring Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society, by Joseph Jaworski, Otto Scharmer, and Peter Senge, 2005
  • The Necessary Revolution: Working Together to Create a Sustainable World, by Bryan Smith, Nina Kruschwitz, and Peter Senge, 2010
  • The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education, by Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge, 2014
  • Working with Presence: A Leading with Emotional Intelligence Conversation with Peter Senge, by Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge, 2006
  • Leading in a Time of Change Viewer’s Workbook: What It Will Take to Lead Tomorrow, by Peter F. Drucker, Peter M. Senge, Drucker, 2001
  • Leading the Necessary Revolution: Building Alignment in Your Business for Sustainability, by Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge, 2010

“Collaboration is vital to sustain what we call profound or really deep change, because without it, organizations are just overwhelmed by the forces of the status quo. ”

– Peter Senge

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“Reality is made up of circles but we see straight lines.”

– Peter Senge

Questions about Peter Senge

  • What are Senge’s Five Disciplines of Learning Organizations?
    • Senge’s five disciplines of learning organizations describe how to manage the success and development of an organization:
      • Personal Mastery
      • Building a Shared vision
      • Systems Thinking
      • Mental Models
      • Team Learning
  • What does Peter Senge mean by “Learning organizations”?
    • A Learning Organization is one that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. The concept was coined through the work and research of Peter Senge and his colleagues.
    • Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing modern organizations to stay competitive.

Peter Senge – Videos

Peter Senge: “Systems Thinking for a Better World”


Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline


“A learning organization is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future.”

– Peter Senge

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