5th DisciplineThe Fifth Discipline is a seminal work by Peter Senge that is an idea still waiting to happen. It is a brilliant book that is more often quoted than put into practice.

I was working for WGBH public television, and was at MIT in 1990 when Peter Senge was writing The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. We talked about the book during a filmed interview I was directing. I recently had a chance to look at the footage and something was missing. I never once saw a smartphone, a tablet, or even a thin laptop. It occurred to me there is a new sixth discipline.

Using Learning Technology to Teach and Support the Other Five Disciplines

First let me review the first five disciplines needed to transform an L&D department into a learning organization:

New Picture (4)

What’s missing? Learning technology that is used to teach and continuously support the other five disciplines. Technology exists today that can help develop personal mastery and focus our energies:

  • Feedback technology that can show us the mental models that we use to make decisions and take action
  • Collaborative technology that can enable the ongoing building of a shared vision
  • Team learning technology already being used around the world to help generate crowdsourcing and group-mind.
  • And finally technology that can integrate the other four disciplines and help develop the systematic thinking that looks at learning as a strategic, ongoing, continuous, always on, anywhere, and anytime knowledge-sharing function of a learning culture.

Taken all together it is the addition of learning technology that can help realize the vision of the art and practice of a learning organization.

In 2014, my focus for Brandon Hall Group will be in part on exploration of these technologies, where they are being used, which companies are providing the best practices, and what is the story behind their transformation to a culture that places learning high on the list of strategic corporate goals.

I plan on researching and analyzing how companies are using the tools to evolve from an L&D department into an enterprise learning organization. The focus will be on the way that the sixth discipline – using learning technology – supports the other five disciplines and can help bring about the art and practice of a learning organization, which can clearly measure the ROI and competitive advantage of being the smartest company on the block.

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