Sept 28th, 2015 I was invited by Unify Toronto to prototype a new workshop exploring Theory U through improvised movement and storytelling… and it was serious fun!
Theory U is a framework of understanding that what the world is asking for, is a kind of leadership that humbly recognizes that we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t know what the future has in store. This present moment in history has never existed before. And whilst we can draw on wisdom from the past, we also need to practice deep listening to what needs to emerge now. The practice involves becoming deeply in tune with ourselves and one another. Observing, observing, observing, deep listening and presencing – a blended word combining “sensing” (feeling the future possibility) and “presence” (the state of being in the present moment).
Otto Scharmer, the founder of Theory U conducted studies with CEOs and found that the quality of their leadership had less to do with the kinds of tools and methodologies they used, and more to do with the quality of the inner state from which they are operating. This, what he refers to as the ‘blind spot of leadership’ is essentially what many knowledge systems have known for eons – that increasing our self awareness has a direct impact on the quality of the work we do in the world.
Theory U offers a U shape journey moving us through deeper levels of listening – from a place of downloading, or operating based on our preconceived assumptions and conditioned narratives, to letting go of assumptions, opening our mind, heart and will. The bottom of the U is a place where we are present with ourselves, connected to Source and able to sense that which wants to emerge. In this place of ‘presencing’, we are able to let come in, and move to prototype new models and possibilities.
The workshop used the practice of InterPlay, to invite people on a journey from their heads to their hearts and bodies. It created the conditions for practicing being present, deep listening and creating in the moment. We played with leading and following in a way that blended leadership and followership, inviting us to re-awaken our senses and practice being deeply in tune with ourselves and one another at once.
This is just the beginning of my exploration of Theory U through improvised movement practice and I plan to continue. Shout out to Social Presencing Theatre and Arawana Hayashi for their current exploration of Theory U through embodiment and contemplative practices. Thankfully there is a movement on the rise.