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Les squires

Dear friends,
I just read the book Theory U –Leading from the Future as It Emerges by Otto Scharmer (2009) and would like to propose this concept for discussion.

The Theory U explains the default pattern of many people of downloading patterns of the past and performing in a reactive manner. At the other end of the spectrum is the ability to lead from the future as it emerges by connecting to the deepest source, from which the field of the future begins to arise. The ability to move from one end of the spectrum to the other is the essence of leadership i.e. the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate.

The Theory U acts as a practical lens and framework to explain why and how groups can develop this deepest level of awareness. It complements existing developmental theories such as Spiral Dynamics and AQAL and differentiates various states of attention and consciousness. Research has found that groups can achieve the most developed state even though individuals within the group, according to developmental theory, would have been unlikely to get there. In other words, the collective serves as a gateway to access the deeper states of awareness and knowing.

When I read about the concept of Circle of Presence i.e. the idea is to create circles in which we hold one another in the highest future intention I thought about the Transition movement as a practical example.

Scharmer claims that:
“The group should consist of people who are interested in regularly exploring some of the deeper issues of their personal and professional journeys and how they relate to organizational and societal transformation - people who share this interest because of a deeply felt need to pursue this deeper inquiry, not just out of purely intellectual curiosity. You want people who are willing to put themselves on the line, not those who would limit their role to sitting in the audience to criticize others.”

What is missing, according to Scharmer, are “cross-institutional places” in which we could enable productive conversations among all key stakeholders, including supply-chain members, customers, the community, investors, innovators and the stakeholders that are marginalized or voiceless in the current system. That is the institutional blind spot today. We must find room for all the key players in any given ecosystem if we are to gather and co-create our future.

Isn’t that just what the Transition movement is about? I would be happy to get further insights from other people who might be reading the book or interested in the topic

Best regards


Tags: "circle, book, book review, emerging future, group behavior, groups, of, presence

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Oh, they're driving the children's life away
I, Me, Mine, I,Me, Mine, I, Me Mine

Ground Pilots
How much can you drive drive drive drive drive
Your children children children
will not survive
Erik -

Thanks so much for bringing this topic here!

Although I haven't read the book, I've been immersing myself in Theory U/Presencing ideas since last fall. I'm a member of another "ning" group ( with folks from all over the world, including a handful of other folks involved in the Transition movement. Are you there, too?

I've been sitting with the question of practical implementation of these ideas as they make profound sense to me: slowing down, getting away from our reactive minds, deeply observing "what is", dropping into the Now and then acting in an instant from that place....

I've started a conversation with a man from Reos Partners who uses this framework in the social change work they are involved in globally.

Looking forward to further conversation about this.....

Dear Judith,

Thanks for your comments and the link to the presencing institute community. I was not aware about it but will sign up as well to get some further inspiration and insights.

Currently, I am working on a paper for the next World Congress of Project Management to take place in Helsinki in June. The topic is holistic project management and how to enable the project management profession to move to Tier 2 (turquoise) in the Spiral Dynamic by Beck and Cowan. Currently I am not aware of so many projects deliberately used to create positive impact on society and sustainable development in addition to managing the iron triangle of cost, time and quality. However, I am happy to find benchmarks of projects that can satisfy the needs of people at all development levels.

The Theory U appears to be a wonderful concept to create the right awareness, and I am also personally convinced about the concept that the success of an intervention depends on the internal condition of the intervener. Thus, self responsability and personal mastery is key.


Hello Erik -

Your paper on recalibrating the project mgmt profession sounds very interesting. I'm sure you would be able to get good feedback on it if you presented ideas at the Presencing "ning" site. I thank you for your fire to help this work transition to a more comprehensive and healthy dynamic state.

It is good to be reminded about self-responsibility and self-mastery. It is so easy to get caught up in the phenomenal world "out there" and think that's where I need to help effect change. Yes and no. When I am most in touch with Source, I am most true, alive, and effective. Meditate, meditate, meditate -- as a teacher of mine says.
Dear Judith,
Thanks for suggesting the Presencing Ning site in the first place and the suggestion to get input on the paper. I will make use of it.

I went through a U loop myself yesterday when I first was in a stuck state downloading patterns of the past of attachment to security etc. but lacking energy. Later on during a bath with Bachblüten “Notfall” (emergency), incense “Urvertrauen” (universal trust) and some inspirational music I managed to unblock my energies again moving down to the botom of the U and after reflection act in a moment. Still in the bath, I made a decision to resign from my job in Brussels by end July, taking August off and then from September onward starting to build up my own consultancy in Frankfurt.
Thus, a big step into the uncertainty and unknown but also a great opportunity to build landing strips for the emerging future and having the possibility and flexibility to follow the directions that inspires me most.

take care!

At risk of offending anybuddy and/or being censored and/or being thrown off this and othe Transition Forums, I looked at Rob Hopkins book and it looks like just another opportunistic Capitalist project. Little to nothing there, and much too lengthy, if you were not "indoctrinated" in the 70's.


Mike Morin
Not meditate, meditate, meditate....

contemplate, learn, discern, contemplate, commmunicate, take action!!!
Dear Mike,
Thanks for improving your communication and trying to be more constructive. Your previous comments I couldn't relate to as I didn't feel the open mind, heart and will behind. Now, I perceive a more genuine interest in a dialogue and not just downloading ideas from the past. I would feel even more respected with a slight rephrasing to: not only meditate, meditate, meditate, as we want to be inclusive and not exclusive wont we?
Love and light
I wasn't aware of theory U but I like what you have passed on about it, "At the other end of the spectrum is the ability to lead from the future as it emerges by connecting to the deepest source, from which the field of the future begins to arise. The ability to move from one end of the spectrum to the other is the essence of leadership i.e. the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate.".

I am new to the transition town, culture etc movement and have been working on my own deep exploration of the present and the potential future. My bottom line is that as biological creatures with large amounts of power that stands outside our biology we need to come to terms with both facts. I see the western industrial mindset as having grown from deep roots of identity that have developed through our development, Jared Diamond traces this in Guns Germs, and Steel, from hunter gatherer to agriculture through many phases after that and recently into the industrial age. In none of that development, until very recently, have we had to deal with the implications of having so much power that is not passed on and managed as biological power through evolution. So I see the transition being deeply identity related, cultural, psychological, and human systems which themselves are based on and reinforce a view of human identity.

I do not see the current capitalist industrial system changing fast enough to catch up with the ecological bottleneck it is creating and I think that system will only change in response to various levels of environmental collapse, which are already under way although on a time table that is hard to observe directly on a day to day perceptual level. Where transition town and transition culture fit in for me is that people who see the future and start developing living experiments now are preparing alternatives that others will adopt as the reality and effects of ecological collapse begin to become more apparent.

My personal depth and systems explorations of this are out there at my websites for the more systems and philosophy stuff and for the more personal part of it.

I will pick up the book you are talking about and read it after I finish Ecopsychology by Theodour Roszack. Thanks for the interesting post.

I agree deeply. I believe the working of ad hoc as well as deliberate groups will be a key factor in "Transition," and experienced and knowledgeable facilitators will be needed. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook is a wonderful account of what can come out of this work, even though it preceded Senge's joining up with Scharmer (have you read "Presencing"?)

I experienced a workshop with Scharmer a few years ago. As a long-time teacher I am always interested in the "technologies" - techniques for helping to "midwife" the process. He invoked a number of them.

Certainly one of the key but not easy moments is the ending that is necessary for the beginning...the bottom of the "U".

Good luck with your work. I hope you have plenty of opportunities actually to experience the process -- as I "read between the lines" of the Fieldbook, I kept thinking of the skill and energy of those who were helping guide the process; the gifts they brought - but then, the absolutely extraordinary gifts that the participants brought out of themselves, given the opportunity and help -- extraordinary, living results that none of them expected nor could have imagined.

Nearly quoting Erik's opening of this discussion: "We must find room for all the key players in any given ecosystem if we are to gather and co-create our future."

Eliminating voicelesses - enabling emergence of The Beloved Community by moving away from selecting those who are key - is indeed the job. Stephen R. Covey contributed much to what we're about in his 2004 book The 8th Habit, and I commend it to all interested in this discussion.

Localization is the functional equivalent of breaking a large gathering into small discussion/work groups; more get to speak, more are heard and outcomes unanticipated can emerge.
Well said; thank you.


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