Are U leading from the future? I was challenged with this question when I was introduced to Dr. C. Otto Scharmer at the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)’s conference in Berlin three years ago. He introduced us to the application of his Theory U framework. Scharmer is an MIT senior lecturer at the Sloan School of Management, author, co-founder of the Presencing Institute.
Like everything in life, his work showed up in my world when I was ready for it.
Theory U is a social technology tool powered by a leadership engine, aimed at facilitating the process of Leading from the Future. I can assure you that it has no basis in science fiction and no relation to fortune tellers or tarot cards…
What was that? Did I hear your voice of cynicism?! Scharmer refers to the Voices of Cynicism and Judgement and Fear as the enemies of your ability to engage the leadership ‘Technology’ required to Lead from the Future. That technology requires an:
1. Open mind,
2. open heart, and
3. open will.
He believes that these Voices must be silenced in order to truly ‘shift the inner place from which you operate’ – a condition required to achieve transformational change. The magnitude of embracing that belief is enormous, alluring, scary and inescapable.
At the heart of this belief is a big question “As individuals, organizations and societies, why do we keep creating results that nobody wants?” Scharmer asks readers to consider this in his latest book “Leading from the Emerging Future”. He states that collectively, we have created social, environmental and spiritual divides that can only be restored by moving towards an ‘eco-culture’ – a culture where we consider the needs of the system as a whole.
I have been dabbling with Theory U since my Berlin encounter, most recently as one of 25,000 participants from 191 countries attending MIT’s EdX 6 week MOOC: “U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society & Self – Learn to create profound innovation in a time of disruptive change by leading from the emerging future”. I can’t even begin to share how amazing that experience has been.
This work has such depth, both at the individual and at the collective levels, that it has inspired me to share it with as many people as possible. I certainly don’t pretend to have many, if any answers on how one successfully ‘Leads from the Future’, but I am confident that I can leverage Theory U with anyone, any group, who is experiencing a ‘cross-road’ in their path and contribute to enable a shift towards the future that is wanting to emerge.
Here is an invitation to consider:
How will you, your team and your organization ‘Lead from the Future’ to achieve your vision?
Consider partnering with Tekara to explore that future through a facilitated “U.Lead” experience. Our role is to co-create the ‘space’ that you need to explore, shift and Lead from the Future as you wrestle with the magnitude of the changes that are emerging in your world.
Curious about Otto Scharmer?
The MOOC is available online indefinitely for free. Join EdX and sign up at:
Want a sneak peak of the program?
Watch two short videos on Otto Scharmer’s website: