Transforming Practices Conference – an interlude: Theory U

One of the foundations of the Conference was understanding the times in which we find ourselves and what the demands of these times call from each of us.  Diana Butler Bass made use of Theory U as one way to help orient us. What is Theory U?  Here is some information and several short videos – I will pick this up in Part 2.

Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. The social technology of presencing.

“In his book, Otto Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways—and to learn from the future as it emerges. It all hinges on our attention. “If I attend this way, it emerges that way.” But what often keeps us from “attending” is what Scharmer calls our blind spot”¦the inner place from which each of us operates. Unless we become aware of that blind spot—both as individuals and as communities and larger systems—we won’t be able to successfully address the pressing issues and challenges of our time.

“Theory U explores a whole new territory of scientific research and personal leadership. By moving through the “U” we learn to connect to our originating Self. We travel down the left side of the “U” to find ourselves in the realm of presencing, where we learn to sense the future that is seeking to emerge. At that level of operating, we experience the opening of our minds, our hearts and our wills. Yes, this is an intellectual journey, but it’s one that is grounded in real life experience and shared practices. On this journey of sensing, presencing and realizing, we learn new ways of being—ways crucial for each of us at this chaotic time.

“Fundamental problems, as Einstein once noted, cannot be solved at the same level of thought that created them. Learning to pay attention to our attention and to illuminate the blind spot, according to Scharmer, is the key leverage point to bring forth the profound systemic changes in business, society and in science so needed now.

This “U” methodology of leading profound change invites you on an exciting and unique personal and professional journey. You will experience new levels of thought and action from within you that allow you to participate, to co-create and to bring forth the future.

(Foreword by Steen Hildebrandt, Ph.D)

See above for chart photo


Here are a series of videos that explain the process, each is short (1-2 minutes mostly)

1.  “Downloading patterns of the past” which moves to suspending..

Video: Downloading Past patterns (Theory U) [1]


2.  “Seeing with Fresh Eyes” which moves to deep dive

Video: Seeing with Fresh Eyes (Theory U)


3.  “Sensing from the Field” which leads to letting go

Video: Seeing from the Whole (Theory U)


4. “Presencing – Connecting to the Source” asking – Who is my Self? What is my Work?  Which moves to Letting Come…

Video: Presencing (Theory U)


5. “Crystallizing – vision and intention” which leads to enacting

Video: Crystallizing (Theory U)

6 & 7.  “Prototyping—co-create strategic microcosm to Performing: achieve results through practice and infrastructures”

Video: Prototyping to Performing (Theory U)

[1] The Creative Process Ensemble illustrates the stages of Theory U