Peter Senge defined learning organizations as where individuals continuously expand their capacity to generate the results that are desired, where expansive and new trends of thinking are fostered, where collective objectives are set free, and where individuals are learning collectively so as to view the organization as a whole. The fundamental rationale of these organizations is that in case of rapid change, only organizations that are productive, adaptive, and flexible will succeed. For this to occur organizations have to be able to tap the capacity and commitment of individuals at all levels (Maybunich & Gilley, 2000).
Peter Senge proposed that learning in organizations entails the mastery of component technologies and basic disciplines. He identified five disciplines that are crucial for a learning organization:
System thinking; the systems concept views the organization as an entity that is living, and have its own learning and behavior patterns. He came up with the thought of system archetypes, which should assist, managers to identify repetitive trends that result to recurrent limits or problems to growth (Maurik, 2001).
Personal mastery; refers to a need by managers to develop competencies and skills in people. He stressed on the significance of spiritual growth in an organization that is learning. Spiritual growth enables individuals to learn how to view reality more vividly, and it enables people to highlight the difference between reality and vision. This leads to creative tensions that result in successful learning.
Mental models; the mental models are a continuation of the systems approach. This idea necessitates the construction of mental models by managers as the driving forces behind the principles and values of the organization.
Shared vision; Senge argues that true innovation and creativity are founded on the shared vision and creativity of a group which can only be achieved by having a common personal vision among the members.
Team learning, the process of effective team learning entails alternating the processes for discussion and dialogue. Dialogue is viewed as exploratory, and it expands the opportunities, while discussion reduces the alternatives to find the appropriate option for future decisions. Even though, the two processes are viewed to be complementary, they are inseparable.
In today’s organizations, the five disciplines can be applied to promote organizations that are more creative and convivial. However, 50 years ago this model could not have functioned properly as most organizations depended on quick fixes instead of adhering to management principles (Smith, 2001).