Friday, November 22, 2013

Scharmer and Kaufer - Leading from the emerging future

Otto Scharmer’s new book (co-authored with Kaufer) uses many of the same ideas he has espoused in previous writing. Leading from the emerging future is different primarily in its efforts to advocate a way to a future that will create global well-being, or as he terms it, a “gross national happiness” rather than “gross domestic product” measure. In GNH, the outcome would be “genuine human beings, realizing their full and true potential, caring for others – including other species – ecologically literate, contemplative as well as analytical in their understanding of the world, free of greed and without excessive desires; knowing, understanding, and appreciating completely that they are not separate from the natural world and from others.”

The Gross National Happiness index (GNH) would challenge business dominated environments where business interests supersede all other sectors – civil, social, media, government. How? By creating broad entrepreneurial capacities that serve the real needs of communities rather than the private interests of those out simply to make a profit. The infrastructures required would include:

• Enabling spaces: innovation happens in nurturing places

• Key challenges: challenges are the raw material for all learning

• Sensing mechanisms that allow people to see themselves as part of a bigger picture

• Capacity-building mechanisms

• Capital

• Technology

• Community: a global web of mentors, partners, and entrepreneurs who collectively create prototypes for society

Scharmer asserted that the blind spot that holds us back in striving for connectedness and common purpose is that we assume that mainstream economic thought is real and that it is a foundation that cannot be challenged. This is in the face of $190 trillion in U.S.A. assets sitting in wait for highly profitable investment while the real economy and social sector have no way to access the necessary resources to make a positive impact. “The primary leadership challenge today is the fact that our economic reality is shaped by globally interdependent eco-systems, while institutional leaders, by and large, operate with an organizational ego-system awareness.”

I have always found Otto’s ideas visionary and stretching far beyond the current reality that most people can see. Leading from the emerging future offers thought-provoking questions and challenges and evidence through numerous examples that leadership focused on something other than monetary gain is evident in more organizations and communities than we realize.

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