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Theory U

Theory U is the name which C. O. Scharmer has chosen for a concept, which introduces a specific decision-making process. (Within the fashion facets of this model you can rightly practice much criticism. See more about this in the article by S. Kuehl here.)

The aspect of this concept, which is of most interest in the context of our considerations, is Scharmer’s attempt to draw attention to the fact that many individuals, teams and organisations do not use or perceive the opportunities of the present moment, because they are too occupied with the past (he calls this downloading). If one is occupied with one’s own patterns, assumptions and prejudices then one does not learn, one is not open for the new, one is more concerned with thinking than with perceiving and one is not in exchange with others but tries to convince them. In this way, intuition, shared thinking (as opposed to swopping thoughts), a sense for the possibilities of the moment, pleasure in attempting something and discarding it etc. get a raw deal.

Thus, decision-making processes are impoverished, because only known alternatives are considered and search movements, which emerge from future possibilities, do not gain relevance. The “Let the inner knowing emerge by itself” (Scharmer), which rests upon mindfulness and a sense for possibilities (Musil) can, in this way, definitely lead to a meaningful aspect of comprehensive decision-making competence.