Theory U

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Summary by Dave Pollard:

"Theory U is in essence a problem-solving (or more accurately perhaps a problem-addressing) process. Otto Scharmer proposes this process to optimize both collaboration and innovation, and as a guide for coaches to use to enable collaborative and innovative capacity in individuals and teams working on (especially intractable) problems.

  • The co-initiating step includes self-organizing the team, studying patterns and paying attention -- being aware. Its principal 'product' is an engaged and informed team.
  • The co-sensing step entails making sense of what you are now aware of. Its principal product is understanding.
  • The presencing step is the most challenging for traditional organizations to accept, I suspect. It is what Scharmer calls letting go and letting come, a being open to possibility, using imagination and critical and creative thinking. Its principal products are emerging approaches.
  • The co-creating step is one of iteratively exploring and experimenting with these possible approaches. Its principal products are working models.
  • The co-evolving step is the continuous and improvisational study, improvement and innovation of these models, collaboratively in peer production with the community of users of these models (the models 'continuously becoming' better and better products and services in practice -- there is no longer such a thing as a 'finished product', just the latest and best evolved 'version'). Its principal products are sustained innovation, relationships and resilience."


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