Theory U


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U.Lab. intentional global community collaborates across cultures, sectors, and systems.
China, where our colleague Lili facilitates–A community of about 10,000 participants who
took u.lab in its first year.And here in Berlin, where U practitioners come together to support the emerging u.lab movement.We do that by engaging organizations and hubs across the world– And by working with government and business leaders in Africa– And by introducing new social technologies, such as Social Presencing Theater– And also, of course, here from MIT, where I’m with my colleague and friend, Dayna.

I’ve been doing social justice work for a really long time. And what really excites me about this course is the opportunity to explore the connections between societal change, institutional change, and personal change.
And then, of course, there is Adam, the mastermind frameworks and tools that we believe are key for transformation today. To begin, we created a series of short videos that give you the feel and the essence of u.lab in a nutshell.

1.Something is wanting to be born. Expressing feeling of disriuption. Tension between Current reality and future possibilty. Journey of the U. Help to connect to the emergent future.

Two Key Concepts:
1. Iceberg: 10/90. Many think the current system is broken.
3 Divides. Ecologixal, SOcial and Spiritual.
Eco: Self vs Nature
Social: Self vs Others
Spiritual: Self vs. Self
ALIENATION more people kill themselve than are killed by others

Summary: Applicable to many bigger systems. we collectivly create resukts that we don’t want. emergent phenomena.
investigating the bottom 90%

2. Turning the camera around -systems thinking bigger picture

Overview effect. earth hanging in space.
shock. looking back at our selves, new kind of self awareness.
most important reason
molecules in our bodys are protoyped in some ancient stars.
paperthin layer protects everything on earth
setting aside differences in spite of global challenges.
backdrop of infinity

3. Journaling questions

collective journey
who am i who is myself, what is my work.
1. What touched me
The stories of the humans experiencing the overview effect and realizing that everyone can do as well. and the realization that someday children may take school trips to space to witness the effect.
2. ending world
the end of value creation through alienated work. the end of codependent relationships. the end of animal abusery. the end of corporate control.

3. born world
new ways of working. freedom for more and more. organizational shifts. aiming towards deathless life.

4. 90% Invisible

symptoms. change requires deeper look on structures and patterns.
underlying forces and structures:
structural disconnects: 8
finite resources vs infinite growth
fincnacial vs real economy
GDP vs. wellbeing (no translation of output and wellbing)

what are the root causes?
most importantly in our quality of thinking (paradigms of economic thoughts)
thinking creates the world

history of economy:
1. state centric (hierarchy and control)
2. market free market (entrepreneurial class)
3. social market (networks & negotiation)

system is hitting the wall because of externalities (climate change etc.)

4. co-creative (seeing acting from the whole, business government and civil)

embodiement of evolving human consciousness

from traditional
to ego
to stakeholder
to eco-system-awareness = focussing on the wellbeing of all

bring together diverse stakeholder groups that need each other
and shift to holistic eco-system-awareness

“Ego2Eco-Shift” most important leadership challenge


5. refugee crisis.
bsp des modells
responding from symptom level: reaction, rightwing, wallbuilding
from strucutral level: how can we develope agency that deal with the situation
from paradigm level: not services to them but seeing oneself in the situation and as part of the challenge. crisis is the result of globak past actions. connected to our own history. interdependency.

responding to the source level.
into humanity, opening doors of communities and evolving from us to we.
looks into the mirror who could we be
it takes a journey to get their



Learning by reflecting on past and learning on sensing and actualizing on the present
90% are based on the past
how to develope a supporting enabling social technology to learn from the emergent future to sense and actualize
interview study 100 innovator thought leaders
what is the deeper process?
2 types of cognition: downloading: acting based on past habits
: knowing: deeper source of innovation, 3stageprocess:
1. observe, experience from different angles, moving into places of most potential
2. retreat and reflect, emergence of inner knowledge, moving into stillness, intuition,
3. acting in an instant, rapid prototyping, fast cycle process, feedback generating, base of iteration
works if inner leadership is accepted
interior condition counts

innovation depence on the source and attention and intention and presence that I bring into a situation

theory u: social field technology to harness source dimension

3 capacities to cultivate:
1. open mind: suspend old habits of judgment
2. open heart: empathy, redirect attention, perspectivechange
3. open will: let go and let come

theory u is framework and methods, set of tools and practices to move from one state to another more cocreative one

7. Real Life examples

5stage process: walking in the shoes of the stakeholders all insights gathered, where is the system at, where is the leverage
4. co-create: rapid prototyping, small-scale experiments to get feedback
5. co-evolving: developing the ideas

its about to change how people connect to each other
moving through a mindset shift, including the self in the system
= mindfulness, reflective capacity, paying attention, meta-awareness

dialog= self-reflecting recapcity of the system, whats my own contribution to the problem and the solution?

making a system sense and see itself

ICBC China, and IDEAS Indeonesia, Alibaba, novos urbanos brazil

you need high quality holding space

8. Story of U.Lab

radical democratization and knowledge access + activating innovating and learning powers in humans and communities
1. applying knowledge, linkin head and hand
2. linkin power of entrepreneurship with passion and compassion
3. self knowledge: who is myself (highest future possibilty), what is my work? (what is the future of my part)

from head to heart from heart to hand.


9. the new university

the dome opens up, the process of learning is moving out, people can connect more freely
edgar schein, jay forresster limits to growth.
kurt lewin, edgar schein, peter seinsfield

the issues outside are a mirror of the issues inside

10. journaling


11. how ulab 1x works

asking participants to form decentralized hubs to go through the 7 week process of the U
international response 35.000 people
beispiele aus indonesien, china, mumbai

learnings: global u.lab community comes together

12. meet fellow participants

13. presencing & absencing

how can we move to what is to what emerges?

reverse U: absencing

denying, de-sensing, absensing, decieving, destroying (example fundamentalism)

realign attention with intention

14. Guided Journaling

10 questions

1. absencing: political extremes
2. presencing: new work emergence
3. self-absencing: over-thinking, bad habits, ego-impulses
4. self-presencing: openness, finding my intuition, knowing my abilities
5. what frustrates me the most: indeciveness, fear of taking action, feeling powerless,
6. what is my source of energy: my ability to access my intuition, nature, my friends, all people that empowered me.
7. where do i feel the future: the emergent new styles of work and cooperating, the realization that intuition is real. technologies ability to make our world better
8. what is my sense of my future highest possibility: connect movements, create pathways, harness peoples powers, help people break through fear, caress social eco-systems, built deep meaningful relationships.
9. my intention for ulab 1x: get to know the actual practice of theory u. building a community. crafting my own ideas for the emergent future.
10. friends and collaborators: my beloved, my network, my colleagues