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Change Management – Theory U:

Otto Scharmer

Theory U is a Change Management process that is applied to both individuals and teams. Its purpose is two-fold:

  • Break unproductive patterns of behaviors
  • Generate new emerging possibilities

The process follows 3 phases:

  1. Observe
  2. Retreat and reflect
  3. Prototype act from what emerges in the now

The 2 major ways to learn:

  1. Learning by reflecting on Past experiences — shaped by what has been.
  2. Learning by sensing emerging FuturePresent is also a gateway to a field of future possibilities

A more effective way to lead change is to make the system see itself. Managing change is shifting people from a Silo View (Ego-System) to a System View (Eco-System — “we”).

The classic Change Formula:

(Speeches on the need to change) + (Tools) + (Drivers) –>This formula, mathematically leads to failure as one link is missing:

The Container 

IntentionAttentionDeep Listening
The ‘Why”Regarding something or someone as interesting and importantFrom a deep, receptive and caring place

The Container helps to integrate new ideas into an existing system thus creating meaning to generate change. It acts as a fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil on which the seeds of change are planted. As a result, relationships between individuals, teams and institution flourish. 

Communication also plays a critical role. Your ability to be aware of the quality of your listening shapes the success of a change effort:

  • Downloading — Reconfirming what we already know
  • Factual Listening — Noticing, disconfirming information
  • Empathic — Seeing through the eyes of another
  • Generative — Holding space for something new to be born.

The 3 Foes stopping you going down the U leg (Seeing & Sensing):

Voice of JudgementVoice of Cynicism Voice of Fear
“You’re a fool!”“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”From a deep, receptive and caring place

The 2 Obstacles stopping you going up the U leg (Crystalizing & Prototyping):

Mindless ActionsAction-Less Mind
Actions without thoughtsOnly thoughts no actions