seeds of our future: some first sprouts

Friday, December 31st, 2010 | Uncategorized

The past five years has made us aware that presencing work is part of a much larger opening process that currently is going on in the world on many different levels and at different scales. In many places, it is also an important counter to increasing manifestations of absencing in the world.

What is the future calling us to do?
Five years ago when a small group of us started the Presencing Institute, we envisioned a global Presencing-in-Action Leadership School that would integrate science, consciousness, and profound societal change. As a first step, we decided to prototype a much smaller version of it and call it the Presencing Institute (PI).

Since then, many more people have become involved in PI, beginning to prototype seven key elements of the presencing-in-action leadership school:

1. Research: While the books Theory U and Presence have been published and each have been translated into 12 languages, we have been working on a new book that reflects on how Theory U can serve as a framework for transforming capitalism and pioneering society 4.0.

2. Social Technologies: We created an online open source Theory U toolbox. Currently, we are working on a 2.0 version of the online toolbox that will allow practitioners across our whole community to upload and share their tools as part of our collective knowledge-creation efforts.

3. Capacity Building . Over the past five years, we have been delivering the Presencing Foundation Program in Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe while also pioneering a global online class that blends state of the art online teaching tools with deep reflection practices and action learning (Global Classroom). We have used the Global Classroom for classes on Process Consultation (Ed Schein) and Presencing (Otto). We also developed a ten-month leadership program for high potential emerging leaders from business, government, and from civil society that results in hands-on prototyping initiatives. We currently are delivering this program through MIT executive education in Indonesia (where we just finished the second wave) and will soon expand this program to other countries including the Philippines and China. Another breakthrough this year was the launch of a two-year Presencing Masterclass that links 72 advanced practitioners from 24 countries into an inspired web of connection and co-creation. The participants of themasterclass meet in monthly virtual coaching sessions and convene in person as a global group for four days, four times over a two-year period.

4. Living Examples – Profound Innovation and Change: Perhaps the most important Presencing work is to support and be in service of applied projects and change initiatives in communities, organizations, and cross-sector large scale change initiatives. Currently, directly or through the Master Class, PI is supporting a range of living examples:
the African Public Health Care Initiative that helps leaders in the health system of Namibia to reinvent and improve their system
WWF and the Coral Triangle Initiative to Develop new or alternative models of juvenile tuna management in the Western Central Pacific and its associated fisheries that channel a portion of tuna’s economic value back into sustainable management initiatives
as well as helping leaders in companies like Natura to deal with their complex multi-stakeholder related challenges of creating innovations for social, economic, ecological, and spiritual well being.
5. Social Presencing Theater: Arawana Hayashi has made real breakthroughs this year directing Social Presencing Theatre that blends embodiment, awareness, improvisation, dialogue, and collective creativity. It has become a core component of the PI Masterclass curriculum.

6. Global/Local Presencing Community Building: The PI community now has 20 individuals in its core group , 72 in its extended core (PI Masterclass) and 4800 online community members, as well as a web presence of close to a million hits per year. How to best interweave and leverage these different levels of community is another question we will continue to work on in 2011.

7. Innovations in Infrastructures: Having prototyped the various key elements of a new presencing-in-action leadership school over the past few years, we now ask ourselves how to best take these elements to the next levels:
As our global community of Presencing practitioners and innovators continues to grow, we will continue to build and expand the structures we have created to convene, link, support and strengthen this work.
In addition, we will continue to explore the larger question of how can we reinvent institutions of education such that the next generation moves into the driver seat of profound societal change? At MIT, we have had great experiences and successes with using presencing for students and mid-career executives at the Sloan School of Management and at the MIT Community Innovators Lab. These first successes beg the question how we might take this more to scale.
While most of our funding is generated through our own products and services, we have been helped enormously in many of these explorations by a generous grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

We believe that the question for us now is what are we called to do as global community of change makers? How can we transform capitalism and pioneer a society and economy that is more inclusive, sustainable, and aware? We believe that we live in a time where emerging global communities like ours can have a big impact if we can rise to the occasion. To dialogue about this, and other questions, we are considering convening the first Global Presencing Forum in Fall 2011 (Oct 24-25) in Cambridge, Mass. Let us know what you think and whether such a forum might be of interest and relevance for you!
Wishing you love and light for the coming year!
– otto


8 Comments to seeds of our future: some first sprouts

Ralf Lippold
January 1, 2011

Otto – First of all a Happy New Year and all the Best for the emerging 2011, which I sense will change quite a bit!

Your blogpost is rather in syncronicity with my own thoughts. Over the last days I have tuned down my physical activities. Now rebooting again ;-)

Looking forward to a great and changeful year ahead.

PS.: Dates in October are booked!

January 2, 2011

The fair trade community—in the US and globally—is asking similar questions but has limited understanding of systems thinking in general. We would benefit enormously from integrating your work and tools into that process. A global forum would be a useful way to bring more people into the work and create new connections.

Josie McLean
January 3, 2011

Otto, wishing you love and light too…

A global forum sounds timley … and I wonder how this may be done with greatest inclusivity (self interest really). Having just returned to Australia from Boston for the systems thinking conference in November…I wonder about the possibility of an international online participation in the global presencing forum. Maybe gathering points around the world to be together but also reduce traveling required???

Kathy Eckles
January 3, 2011

Hi Otto,
Hooray for a Global Presencing Forum in Fall 2011 (Oct 24-25) in Cambridge, Mass. I’d love to help organize this.

Kelvy Bird
January 3, 2011

What great response so far! Just to add, Otto set up an additional space for conversation and input re: the forum here, in the PI online community:

Could be a helpful way to start tracking ideas and those interested in co-creating…

Gary Shunk
January 30, 2011

There is a growing number of thinker / practitioners who are working at the intersection of science, spirituality and social change. Just a sampling of these remarkable individuals include: Otto Scharmer, Ken Wilber, William Ury, Joseph Jaworski, Peter Senge, Betty Sue Flowers and Adam Kahane. In addition, there are two spiritual teachers whose efforts are inviting our “attention,” to the present moment: Thich Nhat Hanh, and Eckhart Tolle. At the center of this intersection is the present moment. The present moment is all there really is – in that moment also lives what will be: the future.

Vaclav Havel stated in 1994: “I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself – while something else, still indistinct, were rising from the rubble.”

Since 1994, so many things have fallen apart, and continue to do so daily. As I write the world economy is in shambles, as well as other micro and marco social systems and institutions. Transition is the keyword: changing from one thing to something different.

Adam Kahane, in his book “Power and Love: A Theory and Practice of Social Change,” brings us the wisdom of Martin Luther King and 20th Century theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich, as well as others. For instance, Tillich defines power “as the drive of everything living to realize itself, with increasing intensity and extensity.” Tillich defines love “as the drive toward unity of the separated.”

For millennia we have been in relationship with the Divine, or Great Mystery of the origin of life in a mostly a passive way. Now it appears we are shifting from passive to active, or even “interactive.” It is a very exciting time to be alive.

Vicki Sandler
January 31, 2011

Otto, my new book “Find Your Scream, Live Your Dream: Discover Your Inner Leader” actually quotes you on a new way of leading is emerging. You call it presencing, and my principles are somewhat similar. I was a green energy company CEO for over a decade and energy attorney prior to that. I believe that co-creating, collaborating and building a sense of community is the only way to be successful going forward. I am considering your global session. Thank you for your leadership.

Gavin McLeod
April 26, 2011

Otto, fellow “presencers”, I just want to add my big HURRAH and thanks to Otto for the effort and focus shown in producing Theory U. It has galvanised the leadership process together with a spiritual awareness – an awareness of something within us all that somehow has the capability to units us all at the highest level.
This common Will aligns also with the concept of “Why”, illustrated in Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why”. People are most deeply motivated by alignment with the the “Why”. It seems to me to be immersed in our common Will.
Otto, your efforts are a catalyst for us all to move the message beyond the book – followership begats leadership as leadership begats followership. I hope we can find ways to democratise and spread the message rather than confining it to the “good and the great”. The “Wisdom of the Crowd” could benefit from such a great marriage of process, sensitivity, spirituality and love.

Leave a comment