Leading a learning organisation 2020s style

The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge published in 1990 exposed to the world Senge’s seminal work on the learning organisation. While Senge’s five disciplines of Systems Thinking, Personal Mastery, Mental Models (blinkers or blind spots), Shared Vision and Team Learning continue to be important, if not vital, components of the modern organisation, leading the modern learning organisation has necessarily changed.

The figure below represents what it means to be a great leader of a learning organisation in these complex times.

To lead effectively, business acumen is a must. However, just being business savvy is not enough. Bringing in the ideas generated by scientists and elements of scientific rigour will provide new opportunities and deliver even more astute judgement.

However, the catalyst to lead through complexity comes from creative thinking. It is what leads scientists beyond interesting lab experiments or thought bubbles to inventions that rock our world. It is what drives Elon Musk or Australia’s Scott Farquar and Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian to see opportunities to innovate no one else can see.

To lead today you need more than knowledge and experience. You need to embrace data and scientific methods no matter your industry. And you need to stimulate your imagination and the imagination of others through creative thinking.

For me It’s like applying Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT education model to business. A business is started for a reason (the why); people with business acumen plan how they are going to achieve the why (the what); the application of some science provides insights for improvement (the how) and an overlay of creative thinking shows the possibilities (the what if/what else).