Table 1: Comparison of Senge’s “Learning Organization” and
Lave & Wenger’s “Community of Practice”

Learning Organization

Community of Practice

Common Idea

Organizations adapt; adaptation requires learning.

Learning is life-sustaining and inevitable.

Learning is fundamental to life.

Organizational learning depends on a shared vision of desired organizational outcomes.


Organizational learning depends on teams’ efforts to engage in honest and open dialog addressing organizational problems.

Individual learning involves engaging in and contributing to the practices of a community.

Learning is social.

Mental models can impede organizational learning


Organizational learning depends on on-going replacement of dysfunctional mental models with more functional ones.

Community learning involves refining practice and creating a sustainable future.

Learning entails sense-making to arrive at practical adaptations.

Organizational learning depends on each participant’s sustained efforts to learn (mental mastery).

Organizational practices are created through individuals’ contributions to collaborative sense-making.

Organizational learning depends on individual effort.

Organizational productivity depends on establishing a system where functional mechanisms such as feedback work to promote rather than to undermine organizational goals.

Organizational learning involves nurture of the interconnected communities of practice that create and act on the knowledge that makes the organization work.

Organizational learning requires systemic thinking.


Meaning is the ultimate outcome of learning.


Learning transforms each individual and shapes his or her identity.


Ohio's Data Team Process: Teacher-based Teams (TBTs) in Action

© 2015 School of Education and Health Sciences Grant Center, University of Dayton