THEORY U PRESENTATION
What is Theory U?
Theory U’s originator, Otto Scharmer, says it is three things:
- First, it is a framework describing a change process.
- Second, it is a method for effecting change personally and organisationally, in communities and globally.
- And third, it is a description of phenomena in the world – what is naturally happening.
The Road Less Traveled
Follow the three movements of the U. We refer to this as the U process because of the “shape” of the journey. In order to get to the deep point of transformation (at the bottom of the U) it is necessary first to “go down the U” (the left-hand side) by opening our minds, hearts, and will, and then, after “passing through the eye of the needle” at the bottom, “go up the U” (the right-hand side) to bring the new into reality (see figure 5). In the words of our colleague, economist Brian Arthur, the three main movements of the U process are:
- Going down the U: “Observe, observe, observe.” Stop downloading and totally immerse yourself in the places of most potential, in the places that matter most to the situation you are dealing with.
- At the bottom of the U: “Retreat and reflect, allow the inner knowing to emerge.” Go to the places of stillness where knowing comes to the surface. Here you share and reflect on everything that you have learned from a deep place of listening, asking, ”What wants to emerge here?” and ”How does that relate to the journey forward?” So the key question is: how can we become part of the story of the future rather than holding on to the story of the past?
- Going up the U: “Act in an instant.” Explore the future by doing. Develop a prototype. A prototype explores the future by doing something small, speedy, and spontaneous; it quickly generates feedback from all the key stakeholders and allows you to evolve and iterate your idea.
Co-Initiating: The movement of the U that helps us listen to what life calls us to do in order to crystallize an initial sense of intention and direction. We co-initiate by attentive listening to others, to ourselves, and to what emerges from constellations or circles of people that we help bring together.
Co-Sensing: The movement of the U that helps us connect with and tune in to the contexts that matter; moving into a state of seeing in which the boundary between observer and observed begins to collapse and in which the system begins to see itself.
Co-presencing: The movement of the U that helps us connect to our deepest sources of inspiration and stillness—and to the place from which the future possibility begins to arise. This movement merges three different types of presence: of the future, the past, and the authentic self. It shifts the place from which the self emerges to the highest future possibility—to our Self.
Co-creating: The movement of the U that enables us to explore the future by doing; enacting prototypes of the future by linking the intelligences of the head, heart, and hands and by iterating through the guidance of fast-cycle feedback from all stakeholders in real time.
Co-evolving: The movement of the U that helps us interweave and link with the larger ecosystem around; by co-evolving, we begin to see, strategize, and act from presencing the emerging whole.
Absencing and Presencing
Strengthen the sources of presencing in order to avoid the destructive dynamics of absencing. Modern society emerges from the interplay of two powerful social fields: presencing and absencing. The field of presencing works through the opening of the mind, the heart, and the will. We know that there are many empirical examples of this process. But everyone who works in institutions and systems also knows that there is another field out there. That field is characterized by getting stuck with the idea that there is only One Truth rather than operating with an open mind, by getting stuck in One Us vs. Them rather than operating from an open heart, and by being frozen inside one rigid identity rather than operating from an open will (...)
We live in the tension of these two fields. We are not one, but two. Sometimes we operate from our highest future possibility (presencing). But every now and then we lose it and get stuck in old patterns of downloading (absencing). We experience this fragile nature of current reality not only in personal relationships, but also on the field of global development and change. We are torn between these two fields, and we need to learn how to strengthen our grounding in the field of presencing.
TRANSFORMING INSTITUTIONALIZED TRAUMA
Transform the three enemies. Why is the U journey the road less traveled? Why is it that most people are aware of this deeper process of knowing and yet it rarely happens in the context of our larger systems? Because the moment we commit ourselves to going on this journey we start to encounter our three principal enemies: the voice of judgment (VoJ: shutting down the open mind), the voice of cynicism (VoC: shutting down the open heart), and the voice of fear (VoF: shutting down the open will).
Putting a face to the Enemies (inner critic)
Inhabiting the dreaming world
Working with dream-figures
Finding the dream-figures mindset