Generating ideas, connections, and action

Theory U and Presencing

The social technology of ‘Presencing” based on the U Theory, believes that we do not understand the deeper dimensions of leadership and transformational change. The “U” refers to the work of co-sensing that a group engages in as they move down one side of the U and the process of co-creation as participants move up the other side of the U shifting from our more common quick fixes on a symptom level to generative responses that address systemic root issues.

This is a horribly abbreviated explanation so it might be help to highlight one part of the process that involves new ways of listening. We are all most familiar with the first, known as downloading, i.e. when you are just listening to confirm was you already know or believe. The second kind of listening is factual when you ‘let the data talk’ and look for novel and dis-confirming information. (Imagine practicing these as you listen to the presidential debates!) The third, empathetic listening shifts the place from which our listening originates, i.e. we move from the objective world to the stories that allow us to connect with others in an open-hearted way. The final form of listening is generative, and the hardest for me to explain. This involves the quietness to be able to connect with a deeper sense of knowing and something larger. We have probably all experienced this in some forms, for me in volleyball when we as team sensed each others responses and moved together in a magical way. In a recent session with people all working on HIV/AIDS in one geographic region we all experienced something unique occurring within our group. Read more about this experience on my blog. Please visit Otto’s website for a much deeper explanation of the theory.