- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business (Aug. 16 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038551624X
- ISBN-13: 978-0385516242
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.5 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 544 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #348,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society Hardcover – Aug 16 2005
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Critical Acclaim for Presence
“A remarkable book, Presence is a journey from the present to an unknown future, a journey of exploration rather than dogma, and a journey toward a vision of humanity at its highest. Like a good documentary film, Presence is a book with ‘emotional truth,’ a wonderful combination of intellectual and visceral experience.”
—Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance
“At this turbulent juncture in human history, a whole new set of social innovations promises to shift humanity away from its destructive path towards a brighter planetary civilization. Presencing and its U process is one of the most profound. It provides all who want to change the world not only with profound hope, but with a systematic and effective way to birth a sustainable planetary society.”
—Nicanor Perlas, recipient of the 2003 Alternative Nobel Prize and the U.N. Environmental Program Global 500 Award
“If you believe, as I do, that an organization is ultimately a human community, then nothing is more important than how we sense our future and act to create it together. This is something all creative business leaders know yet have found almost impossible to talk about—until Presence.”
—Rich Teerlink, CEO (retired), Harley-Davidson
“Presence is a timely and altogether important book. Drawing on a leading-edge understanding of human learning and awareness, it offers a simple but effective getaway to our capacity to become change agents of the future—in business, work, play, and relationships. Finding our presence is finding the key to creative change and to our own future.”
—Ken Wilber, author of A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality
“Presence is remarkable in at least three ways. First, the authors’ work has extraordinary emotional, as well as intellectual impact; it continued to affect me long after my initial reading. Second, I found that the insights I gleaned from the work depended on what was happening around me. I suspect I will take away different messages each time I read it. Third, the authors somehow opened me to unexpected messages and opportunities in my own life. My reading of Presence coincided with many seemingly chance encounters that in very real and specific ways have been essential to my own work, helping me find new ways to connect with colleagues, customers, and the larger community.”
—Darcy Winslow, General Manager, Global Women’s Footwear, Apparel, Equipment, Nike, Inc.
From the Inside Flap
"Presence is an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning. In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change--how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book introduces the idea of "presence"--a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts--to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.
Drawing on the wisdom and experience of 150 scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, including Brian Arthur, Rupert Sheldrake, Buckminster Fuller, Lao Tzu, and Carl Jung, "Presence is both revolutionary in its exploration and hopeful in its message. This astonishing and completely original work goes on to define the capabilities that underlie our ability to see, sense, and realize new possibilities--in ourselves, in our institutions and organizations, and in society itself.
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The book is built around a series of conversations that the four co-authors had in the home of co-author C. Otto Scharmer in Cambridge, Massachusetts over a little more than a year that covered their mutual concern that humanity is headed for a bad end. They first explored whether focusing people on a lose-lose scenario in which everything goes kaput would help solve the problem. Gradually, they came to realize that there seems to be a better method for redirecting humanity through a form of collective deep learning that groups can do to grasp a more meaningful and pertinent direction for their organizations and themselves.
Much of the book then develops a theory of a process for group learning called the theory of the U. The process has three basic steps: 1. observing, observing, and observing until you begin to see your situation from being deeply connected to it so that you sense its true nature 2. presencing, which is being with the situation until a deeper form of knowing evolves (think of this as creating the epiphany) and 3. realizing, which is moving to make your epiphany real.
The book has several powerful stories of how this process has worked with groups. I especially liked the story about how the medical personnel and the patients described medical care as being "quick fix" oriented while both sets of people really wanted to provide and experience deeper counseling and coaching care with one another. The group seemed to instantly coalesce about making the common desire real.
I felt like I could relate to the process and the supporting examples having seen a similar response in groups over my career. There's an unspoken consensus in every organization that is often invisible to the participants because their relationships exist on only a superficial basis. If you ask them individually about their deepest desires and hopes for the organization and themselves, another reality emerges. If you then expose that reality in a group meeting to each other, they immediately begin to act on that new reality. I've been running sessions like this for more than 25 years and find it to be a profoundly moving experience. I was glad to see the work that The Society for Organizational Learning is doing to expand upon this form of change management.
If you are interested in learning another way to apply this process, you might want to look at a book I co-authored, The 2,000 Percent Solution and the 8 step process in part two. The first four steps relate to observing. The second two steps relate to presencing. The final two steps are about realizing. This process can be applied by either an individual or a group.
Presence is filled with many other wonderful stories and questions. I particularly enjoyed the part about the future of science and how that discipline needs to expand to encompass the spiritual . . . and how many scientists are privately doing this.
As I read the book, I was reminded also of a novel I just read and reviewed, Diving the Seamount, that develops many of the same themes as in this book: We are increasingly living our lives separate from one another and from nature. We can only heal our society, ourselves and our world when we reconnect with one another and nature. Interestingly, both books talk about Baja California as a physical source for this learning.
The book also describes some wonderful places to visit and I quickly added them to my list. I'm sure you will, too.
Presence ends up with a consideration of how the gorilla will do after man is gone. I took that question differently than the authors did. They seemed to miss the full impact of the question. First, man may replace himself with something new through biotechnology and evolution related to space exploration. How will the gorilla do with the replacement? Second, if man is gone, will the gorilla evolve to have all of our bad habits . . . and doom themselves?
If you like powerful books about being, what learning is and important questions about existence, you will love Presence. The authors take a nonsectarian view toward spiritual questions, drawing on many different traditions. I felt like I was reading The Golden Bough in places.
If you like your perspectives neatly tied into a bow with specific action prescriptions, this book will annoy you. But perhaps the annoyance will help you learn. The authors don't feel they know the answers, so they have just revealed the journey that took them to where they are. I recommend the journey to you.
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