Capitalism 3.0: An Institutional Revolution In the Making
Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer
Description: C. Otto Scharmer points to what he calls a "blindspot" in contemporary leadership research: the organization and management of attention. He argues that there are different kinds of awareness or attentiveness, that different problems require different qualities of or approaches to awareness. Leaders who understand this can adapt the structure of their awareness to optimize their approaches to specific problems.
Scharmer claims we are passing though a period requiring a new approach to awareness, especially on the part of society's leaders. In these times, leaders the need to navigate multiple deeply interlinked crises (such as climate change, health care, and fiscal management), all of which include a radical transformation in the relation of business to society (which Scharmer calls "Capitalism 3.0"). He argues that managing these crises requires a new target or focus for innovation: "innovation at the level of the entire system" which requires a leadership that understands the nature of its awareness, how that awareness is managed, and how it affects relations with various collaborators and stakeholders.
One feature of this new understanding is a deliberate effort to "listen outside the institutional bubble". A second is to set aside time to "retreat and reflect". A third is prototyping various solutions, "exploring by doing". He advocates recruiting collaborators in this last effort, since the experience gained can inform and advance the relationship.
However the most important feature of the awareness required by our present situation is what Scharmer calls "generative listening" -- listening through the filter of the space of future possibilities. He calls this "leading by listening".
In a stunning example of this type of leadership flexibility, Scharmer shows a video clip of a concert in which conductor Zubin Mehta visibly steps back and forth through several leadership roles with regard to soloist Placido Domingo, sometimes leading and sometimes allowing himself to be led by the tenor. He directs his own lack of direction. Scharmer believes that the subtlety and skill demonstrated by that kind of listening can find applications in many other contexts.
About the Speaker(s): C. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding chair of ELIAS (Emerging Leaders for Innovation Across Sectors), an initiative focused on developing profound system innovations for a more sustainable world. ELIAS links twenty leading global institutions across the three sectors of business, government, and civil society. He also is a visiting professor at the Center for Innovation and Knowledge Research, Helsinki School of Economics, and the founding chair of the Presencing Institute, a research initiative on developing and advancing social technologies for leading innovation and change.
Scharmer has consulted with global companies, international institutions, and cross"sector change initiatives in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has co"designed and delivered award"winning leadership programs for client organizations including DaimlerChrysler, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Fujitsu.
He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges (2007) and Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society (2005), co"authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers.
Host(s): Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management
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