Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges. C. Otto Scharmer. Society for Organizational Learning.

Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges Book Cover Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges
C. Otto Scharmer
Society for Organizational Learning
May 2, 2007

In this ground-breaking book, Otto Sharmer invites us to see the world in new ways, and to learn from the future as it emerges. Fundamental problems, as Einstein once noted, cannot be solved at the same level of thought that caused them. What we pay attention to, and how we attend – both individually and collectively – is key to what would create. What often prevents us from “attending” to situations more effectively is what Scharmer calls our “blind spot,” the inner place from which each of us operates. Learning to become aware of our blind spot is critical to bringing forth profound systemic changes so needed in business and society today.

Based on the ten years of research and action learning Theory U develops and explores new territory for conducting scientific research, pursuing institutional change, and practicing transformational leadership. By moving through the “U” process we learn to connect our authentic self in the deep realm of presence and, a term coined by Sharmer that combines the concept of presence with sensing. In that process we experience a profound opening of our minds, our hearts, and our wills, resulting in a shift awareness that allows us to connect to our best future possibility and to realize it.

Theory U is grounded in real life experience and shared practices. Scharmer sure as much from his own personal and professional development, and draws from a rich diversity of compelling stories and examples. Readers will find themselves drawn to new ways of thinking and acting as they read, completing a parallel journey of exploration and discovery. The final chapters layout principles and practices that allow everyone to participate fully in creating and bringing forth the future that is seeking to emerge through us.

Dr. C. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT in the founding chair of ELIAS (Emerging Leaders Innovate Across Sectors), a program linking twenty leading global institutions from business, government, and civil society in order to prototype profound system innovations for a more sustainable world. It is also a visiting professor at the Center for Innovation and Knowledge Research, Helsinki School of Economics, and the founding chair of the Presencing Institute. Scharmer has consulted with global companies, international institutions, and cross-sector change initiatives in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has co-designed and delivered award-winning leadership programs for client organizations including DaimlerChrysler, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and Fujitsu.

He introduced the theoretical framework and practice called “presencing” in Theory U, in articles, and in his earlier book Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society (2005), co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. For more information about Schirmer and his work see: For more information about the Presencing Institute go to: