Peter’s work on the Fifth Discipline, while he does not say so, suggests an anti thesis to most concepts of management as we know it.
Most concepts of management as we know it came from the military
Yet many when they left the military and joined the private sector, could not create growths for the organizations and many did not survive. Why was that so?
That question intrigued him and became the subject of his research in the 70s and the 80s.
Arie de Geus from across the ocean was at around the same time studying the question, “What is the average life span of an organization?” From the time it was opened till it had to close.
The study was conducted in the 1980s. And he discovered two things. The majority of the organizations did not survive the lifetime of its founder (about forty years). Yet there were, but a very small percentage, that survived a hundred, two hundred and sometimes as many as 700 years.
What did organisations that did not just survive but also grow do differently? What did they have to learn?
Exercise: “Going back in time”. What do we notice happened?
Organisations that lived through hundreds of years of changes had the capacity to learn to:
Understand (made sense of) and deal with their realities (Systems Thinking)
Keep an eye on the future (Personal Mastery) and lead by shaping shared pictures of futures they had wanted to create (Shared Visions). They were leaders of change
To learn from perspectives that were different from one’s own (team learning) and to note and learn about their own perspectives in ways that hindered learning about different perspectives or allowed others to learn about deeply ingrained pictures one held that influenced the way one understood the world (mental models).
These were an organisation’s capacity to learn and there create the results they desire.
Sharing of Peter’s work as organised by the five disciplines and the sixty tools (checklist)
What does a discipline mean here? A way of being. Doing the five disciplines as not second but as first nature, that it becomes as easy as breathing, doing without one being aware one is practicing it. Not just as tools one would strap on.
Read the definition of Systems Thinking.
It is the discipline of seeing and understanding patterns or the behaviour of an event over time. X axis is always Time. When we are observing the way something behaves over time, we are less surprised what its future will hold for us (sharing of the 9/11 story). We anticipate it.
It trains our attention away from events to seeing the way the events unfold with time. These are referred to as patterns.
Seeing these patterns are key to recognizing causal structures that are controlling the events.
Seeing which causal structures are at play, allows us to recognize leverages that are hidden within it. These are parts of the structure that we pay the least of our attention to and would allow us to learn most what we would need to do to achieve more with less resources (the key to climate changes) in order to deal with it.
The essence of or key to the discipline is two things:
Involves a shift of mind from seeing linear cause-effect to seeing circular causalities. Linear causalities are a part of circles of casualty.
Seeing causality as part of a process of change (a movie) rather than snapshots (a series of stills). What does seeing reality in this way do for us?
We begin to observe and notice the order in which causality happens, i.e. which factor influences which other.
When we do not learn to map the causality as is, we may map the process (what we want to do in steps to achieve the intended outcome of the process) or may what we believe is causing or happening. Neither makes it the discipline. It is more important to map casualties as is rather than what we think it is.
Understand the time it takes for something to happen eventually (the delays). Delays are an inherent part of the processes of change. The story of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It is the time that is needed for something to happen. When we ignore delays, or shorten the delay, we compromise reaching the potential of the growth that we are seeking. The mechanistic world designs itself to remove the delays. Natural systems respect them.
There are two ways circles of causality can behave. The variables in the structure interrelate in a way that they influence the variables in it to either seeks the variables in it to grow (change in the direction it is already heading ) or to seek corrections (reverse the directions it had been heading towards to).
Plot A over time that seeks to grow and notice its behaviour with time
Plot A over time that seeks to correct and and notice its behaviour with time