Our capacity to pay attention co-shapes the world. What prevents us from attending to situations more effectively is that we aren’t fully aware of that interior condition from which our attention and actions originate. Best-selling author Otto Scharmer calls this lack of awareness our blind spot. He illuminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U, a framework for updating the “operating systems” of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies.

Ten years ago, when Theory U was first published, Scharmer invited us to see the world in new ways and, in so doing, discover a revolutionary approach to leadership that keeps inspiring innovators and communities of leaders from around the world. But at over 500 pages, that book was a bit daunting. Now Scharmer has created a concise guide to its key concepts and applications, making his vital work and its methods and tools accessible to a wider audience.

The Essentials of Theory U

The Essentials of Theory U is a useful pocket guide for practitioners that distills all of the research and materials found in Otto Scharmer’s seminal texts Theory U and Leading from the Emerging Future. It enables leaders and organizations in all industries and sectors to shift awareness, connect with the highest future possibilities, and strengthen the capacity to co-shape the future.

Part I explores the framework and main ideas of Theory U. It illuminates the blind spot in leadership today: the “interior condition” from which we operate. Part II describes the process, principles, and practices of Theory U, showcasing hands-on methods and tools for change makers. The focus is on building the collective capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Part III outlines a framework for updating the “operating systems” of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies. This framework applies awareness-based systems change to the much needed transformation of capitalism.

Meet the Author

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab platform that attracted over 100,000 registered users within the first three years.

Otto earned his diploma (with distinction) and Ph.D. (summa cum laude) from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. He received the Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching at MIT (2015) and the EU Leonardo Corporate Learning Award for the contributions of Theory U to the future of management (2016). In 2017, he was ranked #1 of the world’s top 30 education professionals by Global Gurus. For additional information visit presencing.org.

Praise from Readers Like You

If you want to expand your capacity for awareness of yourself and others, discerning potential opportunity, and creative, effective action, Essentials of Theory U provides a framework that can be learned and practiced.”
—LEADistics, 5-star Amazon review

“Having made Theory U the central framework for my work in recent years, I am delighted to have such a tight précis both to read and to share. I find that neither the style nor substance has been sacrificed; it retains many of the best features of the original – a theoretical foundation that interweaves multiple disciplines and sources of inspiration, powerful & widely applicable practices, and an autobiographical style that brings the work to life.”
—Eva Pomeroy, 5-star Amazon review

“As the name suggests, this version boils down the essential material into a practical and useable piece of work. This coupled with the idea of Presencing . . . is the best material I have found on using reflective practices, especially for emerging thought.”
—Joe Dager, 5-star Amazon review

Learn More

  • Visit the book site to learn more, download a sample chapter, and find beautiful graphics to share with your networks.
  • Buy a copy of the book for yourself or a friend, or share your review of it, on Amazon.
  • Watch the recent webinar to learn more about implementing awareness-based change in your organization.