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Theory U

Leading From the Future as it Emerges

By C. Otto Scharmer
13-minute read
Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges by C. Otto Scharmer

Today, there are major societal shifts underway, each of which creates major challenges for the leaders of today and tomorrow. Theory U (2016) describes how the so-called U-process can be used to tackle those challenges collectively and implement the solutions quickly. This is achieved by tapping into the blind spot, the source of our deepest creative instincts.

  • Leaders and change activists in corporations, public institutions or any other organizations
  • Anyone interested in facilitating problem solving for groups
  • People interested in tapping into their deepest, most profound source of creativity

Otto Scharmer is a senior lecturer and chairman of the IDEAS program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked with several governments and prestigious companies like Google and Fujitsu to create innovation programs for them.

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Theory U

Leading From the Future as it Emerges

By C. Otto Scharmer
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges by C. Otto Scharmer
Synopsis

Today, there are major societal shifts underway, each of which creates major challenges for the leaders of today and tomorrow. Theory U (2016) describes how the so-called U-process can be used to tackle those challenges collectively and implement the solutions quickly. This is achieved by tapping into the blind spot, the source of our deepest creative instincts.

Key idea 1 of 8

Society is experiencing three revolutionary shifts that present it with great challenges.

There are several trends in the world today that seem to be leading to imminent disaster. For example, although the economy is thriving, the number of poor people in the world is rising. Similarly, although we’re investing heavily into agriculture, we’re only using unsustainable mass-production methods to produce our food.

These trends arise from three major shifts occurring in society.

First, there’s the technological and economic shift of a globalized economy. Since the collapse of the socialist economies, the whole planet has, for the first time ever, been adhering to similar economic policies like downsizing governments and privatizing state-owned industries.

This shift presents us with the challenge of how to make the economy more equitable to all, including future generations.

Second, there’s the shift in international relations as powerful global institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank emerge.

This challenges us, as we need to find a way to deepen democracy and evolve our political institutions so that everyone can directly participate in the decision-making processes without supranational institutions overruling them.

Finally, there is a cultural and spiritual shift in the way we see and interact with the world. Non-governmental organizations and civil groups have emerged as global actors, having achieved  nonviolent societal transformations like the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the peace and human rights movements of the 1980s. Also, people are increasingly interested in spiritual topics like personal mastery and flow. One study found that including a spiritual component in employee training significantly raises their productivity.

This presents us with the challenge of how we can start seeing every human as being on a journey – a journey to become their true, authentic self.

Because of these major shifts, many leaders and key decision-makers now find themselves feeling lost and powerless.

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