green globe with leafAre 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:

ULab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self

Want a sneak peak of the program?

Watch two short videos on Otto Scharmer’s website:

Isabelle Clements


  1. Avatar
    Jeff Bos March 31, 2015 Reply

    I share your passion and curiosity for the U-journey and also participated in the recent EdX U.Lab. I can also attest to the transformative potential for leaders who fully step into this experience. To help bring your Berlin experience full circle, we are using the Theory U model as the cornerstone of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Leadership Academy … a program that has emerged out of the Values Ambassador program which you and Peter helped lead a few years ago. I had a chance this past month to participant in the launch of the program and observed the beginnings of the profound leadership journey the participants are in for. It really works!

    Leaders in values-based banks (and likely many other sectors), are facing new kinds of challenges – environments characterized by volatility, ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty. If we are going to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and move beyond incremental improvements to profound, systems-shifting innovations, we need leaders who have a new set of capabilities including the ability to co-sense and lead from what is wanting to emerge. The U-journey presents a compelling set of practices and experience to bring these capabilities to life.

    I’m so encouraged to read that you are bringing this work to other leaders and organizations.

    See you on the U.


  2. Isabelle Clements Author
    Isabelle Clements May 10, 2015 Reply

    I don’t know if you remember but it was you who introduced me to Theory U when we first met through the Values Ambassador program in Vancouver. I started to explore soon after, and next came Berlin where Otto launched us into the concepts of his new book ‘Leading from the Emerging Future’. It’s been a great journey so far, and one that I know is taking me and my clients to a bigger calling, whatever that may look like. I am keeping my fingers crossed to participate in the upcoming Prototype Bootcamp in Boston…
    I look forward to hearing more about your GABV Leadership Academy journey.

    I’m on the U and look forward to crossing paths along the way!


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