Changing the World in Five Movements

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Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaeufer, their latest book, Leading from the Emerging Future. These movements develop the capacity for “presencing,” which is experiencing the future as if it were “wanting to be born,” explain  how we can move towards a better global future by discarding the self-centered ego-system and transforming to a whole-focused eco-system using the five movements inherent to Theory U.

The five movements are:

1. Co-initiating: Build Common Intent by stopping and listening to others and to what life calls you to do. Key stakeholders gather together with the intention of making a difference in a situation that really matters to them and to their communities. As they coalesce into a core group, they maintain a common intention around their purpose, the people they want to involve, and the process they want to use. The context that allows such a core group to form is a process of deep listening—listening to what life calls you and others to do.

2. Co-sensing: Observe, Observe, Observe and go to the places of most potential and listen with your mind and heart wide open. The limiting factor of transformational change is not a lack of vision or ideas, but an inability to sense—that is, to see deeply, sharply, and collectively. When the members of a group see together with depth and clarity, they become aware of their own collective potential—almost as if a new, collective organ of sight was opening up. Goethe put it eloquently: “Every object, well contemplated, opens up a new organ of perception within us.”

3. Presencing: Connect to The Source of Inspiration, and Will, and go to the place of silence and allow the inner knowing to emerge. This entails crossing  a threshold that requires a “letting go” of everything that is not essential. At the same time that we drop the non-essential aspects of the self, we also open ourselves to new aspects of our highest possible future self. The essence of presencing is the experience of the coming in of the new and the transformation of the old. Once a group crosses this threshold, nothing remains the same. Individual members and the group as a whole begin to operate with a heightened level of energy and sense of future possibility.

4. Co-creating: Prototype the New in living examples to explore the future by doing.  The prototype is part of the sensing and discovery process in which we explore the future by doing rather than by thinking and reflecting. The co-creation movement of the U journey results in a set of small living examples that explore the future by doing. It also results in a vibrant and rapidly widening network of change-makers who leverage their learning across prototypes and who help each other deal with whatever innovation challenges they face.

5. Co-evolving: Embody the New in Ecosystems that facilitate seeing and acting from the whole. Review what has been learned from the prototypes and then decide which prototypes might have the highest impact on the system or situation at hand. Coming up with a sound assessment at this stage often requires the involvement of stakeholders from other institutions and sectors. Very often, what you think you will create at the beginning of the U process is quite different from what eventually emerges. The co-evolving movement results in an innovation ecosystem that connects high -- leverage prototype initiatives with the institutions and players that can help take it to the next level of piloting and scaling, and eventually, global.

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