Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. In his U-Theory model, Scharmer invites us to see the world in new ways, and in doing so, discover a revolutionary approach to leadership and to inventing the future of an organization from a new paradigm.
Scharmer points to the hidden assumptions, myths and artifacts given by the past history of an organization which could be inhibiting what is possible in the future. What’s clear in his model is that past-based thinking only serves to keep us within the current paradigm. By journeying down the U to what he calls “presencing,” we will be freed from “thinking inside the box.” Thus, one avoids unintentionally carrying forward what we have known from the past that results in blind spots in the present.
Leadership is making something happen that wasn’t possible within the prevailing paradigm. Most leaders unwittingly spend their time in the top segments of the U-model – reacting, restructuring or redesigning from within the prevailing paradigm – existing from within one’s own system reinforces these blind spots. Scharmer says these attempts “more often than not serve only to deepen our frustration or cynicism.”
So how do we move from the destructive space to the creative space of “conversational reality conversation?” Professor Scharmer observes that many conversations in organizations take place in the pathological space of anti-emergence, not creative emergence. In shifting conversations by unhooking from them, one can have a shot at true innovation. One has the freedom to journey up the U-Curve to invent and implement, making bold promises to fulfill on futures that were never going to happen.
Where are your blind spots?