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Theory U: Learning from the Future as It Emerges Paperback – Jan 1 2009
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About the Author
C. Otto Scharmer is a senior lecturer at MIT and the founding chair of ELIAS
(Emerging Leaders for Innovation Across Sectors), a program linking twenty leading
global institutions from business, government, and civil society. He has codesigned
and delivered award-winning leadership programs for clients such as Daimler,
PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Fujitsu. He is the coauthor of Presence.
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It has ben hard to lay the book aside, because it is so intense. And I know this is a book that I will read over and over again - with longer breaks under way - in order to have time for my own thinking. Soon it is time for summer vacation - then I will have lots of time to read the book again - at a lower pace - with the time to let my thougts wander. This is the kind of book that easily trap ones mind up to its own thinking.
To be more precise, what I found so interesting about this book:
- The Blind Spot - our unability to see our own weaknesses, what we do not understand and what we hide from.
- And, what is even more interesting: How to illuminate thr Blind Spot and make it clear to us how it stands in our way of dealing with life in a constructive way. We all have these Blind Spots - and we are unaware about them. Otto Scharmers openness in reveling his own Blind Spots through true life anecdotes made me see some of my own Blind Spots and gave me the will, the commitment and the power to face them. Facing them and seeing how they stand in the way of my True Self gave me the Willpower and Leverage to Confront them without hesitation or fear.
- Behind the Blind Spot lies possibilites to understand what we may be - what kind of a future we can create - in our Full Potential. Otto Scharmer calls this Presencing, which is a good descrption for the process the book led me into.
If you are working with development of organsizations, employees or leaders this book gives you the understanding of the limited outcomes of "Downloading" - which is the most common way of teaching - and what you get out of bringing people through experiences of opening, mind, heart and start to presence the possible future.
This book will probably be a milestone for understanding more of how teaching, laerning happens and that there is more to working with of people, organizations and social systems than we have understood so far.
Scharmer proposes a new model for understanding and conducting profound change and deep learning. Instead of analyzing and referring to old patterns of the past which are often inadequate in addressing the current challenges of our time and which might be even part of the problem itself, his new focus rather is on learning from and bringing into life the best of all future possibilities - a process that he calls presencing.
The leverage and starting point of the journey are less a question of what we do or how we do something - it is much more a question of how we approach or attend to a situation before we actually do something: it is our interior condition, the so-called inner place where any social action is generated and comes into being. This inner place or source is decisive in shaping the quality and result of any social action.
It is exactly that perspective which is missing in our daily perception of the world, in management and leadership literature or even in science in general which is the reason why Scharmer calls it the blind spot of our time. However, becoming aware of our blind spot we at the same time discover an untapped resource and power potential in every one of us that can be used in order to find innovative solutions to current problems and to live up to the best future potential - be it in your personal or professional life, be it in management or even globalization processes.
There are several ways of reading this book. Scharmer`s Theory U can be read as a multi-step process template with the shape of a U in order to fully understand how these innovation and deep learning processes work. Moreover, this book offers a range of principles and practices for individuals, teams and organisations for nurturing our various senses for attending to the world and for bringing the process alive in sensing and implementing the best of all future possibilities. Finally, it might work as an inspiration for your personal and professional journey in sensing what life is calling you to do and in discovering that there might be an even higher and greater future possibility for every one of us that we could not have imagined before.
Scharmer`s Theory U is a treasury full of analytic vigour and empowering inspiration. It is sure to make a great contribution to not only the current discourse on (change) management and leadership theory but also to a growing community of practice committed to collectively create profound change and innovation worldwide.
Core terms are never defined, but are just used over and over in a web of confusing claims.
There is probably a good core of practical advice for clearing away noise and tuning into future possibilties, but it's difficult to boil out the practical lessons from all the guru speak.
Sorry I don't have more specific criticisms, but I couldn't get through the whole thing. As terms weren't defined, I struggled to get any bearing for a while and then gave up.
When I wrote this review there were 15 reviews with 5 stars, and I got sucked into spending my $25 based on this unanimity, and on Scharmer's status as a senior fellow at MIT (shame on me). Anyway, I just wanted to warn others that it's not nearly as good as the other reviewers claim -- unless you're into vague new age gobbledygook.
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