Otto Scharmer and the Field of the Future: Integrating Science, Spirituality, and Profound Social Change
Claus Otto Scharmer has dedicated his life work to helping individuals and institutions collaboratively shape the emerging future for the healing of the whole – a process that unfolds through collective inquiry, holistic knowing, and co-creativity. Beginning with the question “why do our systems produce results that no one is happy with?,” Scharmer has integrated systems thinking, action research, phenomenology, and inner awareness into a multidimensional matrix of processes and practices called Theory U. As a social technology, Theory U facilitates a shift in individual and collective awareness of the systems and social fields in which we are embedded. The resulting collective shift in awareness fosters collaborative action for systems change motivated by a shared sense of higher purpose.
Otto Scharmer has applied Theory U not only to systems change in teams, organizations, and institutions but also to addressing the major economic, ecological, and cultural schisms threatening the future of our planet today. Scharmer’s work will likely be remembered for its guidance in the transition to a new epoch of spiritual openness, organizational fluidity, and social transformation. Theory U is more than an intervention tool – it is a way of being and doing in organizational life. Today this way of being and doing is an imperative, not only to address intensifying fundamentalism but to build the foundation of the next epoch that is already emerging.
Dr. Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT, a Thousand Talents Program Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and a cofounder of the Presencing Institute.
KeywordsOtto Scharmer Theory U Presencing Systems change Co-sensing Action research Phenomenology Spiritual development Inner awareness Leadership Organizational change Social transformation Consciousness
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