In a Cambridge, Massachusetts living room, four organizational learning leaders met for a year to talk about how transformational change is all in your mind. With Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline as ringleader, the authors ask us to examine organizations and self by asking, "What question lies at the heart of my work?" and "How can I set aside my narrow view point and understand the whole?"
For them, organizational learning requires a shift from "downloading" (operating with habitual ways of knowing and doing) to "presencing" (awareness of the present moment). The specifics of the shift are found in success stories--like the creation of Visa in the 1960s--and in the moving stories of the authors. For example, Senge's story about an Afrikaans businessman who wept as he rejected apartheid or Scharmer's memory of his childhood home destroyed by fire. In addition, Scharmer and Jaworski's innovative research with 150 thought leaders, such as Francisco Varela, a Chilean born Buddhist biologist, add rigor to "The U Process": a seven capacity model for deep individual and collective change.
The authors also draw on a diverse supporting cast including Martin Buber, Goethe, Lao Tzu and Carl Jung to illustrate their core concepts of intention, self-reflection, and awareness of the whole. On occasion, too many voices and examples can blur the clarity of these bold, juicy ideas about self and system. That said, readers who follow the conversations will be richly rewarded with the understanding of what it means to be an authentic agent of change. --Barbara Mackoff