The Essentials of Theory U

Core Principles and Applications

C. Otto Scharmer (Author)

Publication date: 03/20/2018

The Essentials of Theory U
The Essentials of Theory U Core Principles and Applications "Scharmer's Theory U model of how to open our mind, emotions, and will to moments of discovery and mutual understanding is profound and much needed." Edgar Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management Ten years ago, when Theory U was first published, Otto Scharmer invited us to see the world in new ways and in so doing discover a revolutionary approach to leadership. But at over 500 pages, that book was a bit daunting. Now Scharmer has created a concise guide to its key concepts and applications, making his vital work and its methods and tools accessible to a wider audience. Scharmer argues that our capacity to pay attention coshapes the world. "I attend [this way] therefore it emerges [that way]." In the words of the late CEO of Hanover Insurance, Bill O'Brien, "The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener." What prevents us from attending to situations more effectively is that we aren't fully aware of that interior condition from which our attention and intention originate. Scharmer calls this lack of awareness our blind spot. Part I explores the framework and main ideas of Theory U. It illuminates the blind spot in leadership today: the "interior condition" from which we operate. Part II describes the process, principles, and practices of Theory U, showcasing hands-on methods and tools for change makers. The focus is on building the collective capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Part III outlines a framework for updating the "operating systems" of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies. This framework applies Theory U to the transformation of capitalism. The Essentials of Theory U enables leaders and organizations in all industries and sectors to shift awareness from ego to eco, to connect with the highest future possibilities, and to strengthen the capacity to realize those possibilities.

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Overview

The Essentials of Theory U Core Principles and Applications "Scharmer's Theory U model of how to open our mind, emotions, and will to moments of discovery and mutual understanding is profound and much needed." Edgar Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management Ten years ago, when Theory U was first published, Otto Scharmer invited us to see the world in new ways and in so doing discover a revolutionary approach to leadership. But at over 500 pages, that book was a bit daunting. Now Scharmer has created a concise guide to its key concepts and applications, making his vital work and its methods and tools accessible to a wider audience. Scharmer argues that our capacity to pay attention coshapes the world. "I attend [this way] therefore it emerges [that way]." In the words of the late CEO of Hanover Insurance, Bill O'Brien, "The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener." What prevents us from attending to situations more effectively is that we aren't fully aware of that interior condition from which our attention and intention originate. Scharmer calls this lack of awareness our blind spot. Part I explores the framework and main ideas of Theory U. It illuminates the blind spot in leadership today: the "interior condition" from which we operate. Part II describes the process, principles, and practices of Theory U, showcasing hands-on methods and tools for change makers. The focus is on building the collective capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Part III outlines a framework for updating the "operating systems" of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies. This framework applies Theory U to the transformation of capitalism. The Essentials of Theory U enables leaders and organizations in all industries and sectors to shift awareness from ego to eco, to connect with the highest future possibilities, and to strengthen the capacity to realize those possibilities.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - C. Otto Scharmer

Dr. Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U and co-author of Presence, is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the founding chair of the Presencing Institute. He also is faculty chair of MIT’s IDEAS program and a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. In 2012 he co-founded the Global Well-Being and Gross National Happiness (GNH) Lab, which links innovators from Bhutan, India, China, Brazil, Europe, and the United States in order to prototype profound innovations in government, business, education, and civil society. He has worked with governments, UN organizations, companies, and NGOs in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe, and he has delivered award-winning leadership and innovation programs for clients including Alibaba, Daimler, Eileen Fisher, Fujitsu, Google, Natura, and PriceWaterhouse. Scharmer is currently a vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Leadership Models. He holds a PhD in economics and management from Witten-Herdecke University in Germany. He lives with his family in the Boston area. More information about Scharmer and his work can be found at www.presencing.com and www.ottoscharmer.com.

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Table of Contents

PART I: LEADING IN FRONT OF THE BLANK CANVAS 1. Introduction: Leading in the Face of Disruption Disruption When Systems Fail, Leaders and Citizens Rise Three Ways of Responding: Muddling through (downloading), Moving back (absencing), Moving forward (presencing) 2. Theory U: Seven states of Awareness (inner places of operating) Intro: Brain Plasticity Breaking through the patterns of downloading Seeing current reality Sensing: redirecting your attention Presencing: connecting to the source of our highest future potential Crystallizing vision and intention Prototyping: fail early to learn quickly Embodying in principles and practices 3. Matrix of Social Evolution Listening: Deep Listening Conversation: Dialogue Organizing: Evolutionary Organizations Coordinating: Awareness Based Collective Action PART II: LEADING CHANGE ONE PROCESS, FIVE MOVEMENTS 4. Co-initiating: uncovering common ground and shared intent 5. Co-sensing: seeing reality from the edges of the system 6. Co-inspiring: connecting to the sources of creativity and self 7. Co-creating: prototyping the new in order to learn by doing 8. Co-shaping: embody the new in practices and embed in eco-systems PART III: Leading Societal Evolution 9. Systemic Inversion: The Journey from Society 2.0 to Society 4.0 10. Economy 4.0: From Ego-system to Eco-system Awareness 11. Democracy 4.0: Direct, Distributed, Dialogic 12. Learning 4.0: Co-sense and Co-shape the Future As It Emerges 13. u.lab: A 21st Century Global Action Platform and University

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Endorsements

“Scharmer's short version of Theory U is a brilliant analysis and description of how we can create new ways of seeing, thinking, and behaving to deal with the new complex, systemic, culturally interconnected problems of today's and tomorrow's world. This book provides a new language and teaches us new ways to integrate the insights of the psychology of mindfulness with the sociology of groups and the forces of the political and economic system. It is an incredible tour de force.”
—Edgar Schein, Professor Emeritus, MIT Sloan School of Management, and author of Humble Inquiry and Humble Consulting

“A great and timely book. As more and more people become part of the global movement around deep systemic change—from social entrepreneurs to innovators working within large established organizations to diverse network builders—a new field of knowledge is gradually taking shape. While a few decades will probably be needed for this process to coalesce, books like this offer guidance and perhaps some hope of acceleration along the journey. In the ten years since
Theory U was first published, committed change leaders in diverse settings have used the tools, been guided by the ideas, and advanced the theory. Otto Scharmer does a beautiful job of both explaining this large-scale learning journey and bringing it to life.”
—Peter Senge, Senior Lecturer, MIT, and cofounder of the Academy for Systems Change

“My life and work have changed in no small part since meeting Otto and Theory U through MIT over a decade ago in the founding of the United in Diversity Forum. We have seen an amazing impact of the ‘U' based leadership work in Indonesia and China, particularly in terms of how business, government and civil society collaborate to bridge the environmental, social, and spiritual divides.” 
—Cherie Nursalim, Cochair, SDSN-SEA, and Chair, United in Diversity Foundation

“I've experienced firsthand the profound impact of Otto's transformative work — on our company as a whole, our teams, and individual employees. Thank you for this new book and for laying out the core methods of Theory U in such a concise and accessible way. Now we can all participate more readily in the possibilities for systems change in the world.”
—Eileen Fisher, founder and Chairwoman, Eileen Fisher Inc. 

“This book is the most robust articulation of conscious renewal and reinvention I have ever read. We will forever change the way we innovate and discover the future.”
—Marvin Riley, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

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