Summary of Theory U

Leading from the Future as It Emerges

Berrett-Koehler, more...

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Theory U book summary
You can’t lead your organization to a positive future if you’re still trapped in the past.


5 Overall

5 Applicability

6 Innovation

4 Style


This is an ambitious book. Leadership consultant and lecturer C. Otto Scharmer provides a theoretical framework for understanding the changes society faces and provides suggestions for institutional and personal transformation. Scharmer explains his process and its goals obsessively, even repetitively, walking you through multidisciplinary examples from his own experience, history and economics. He provides diagrams and breaks down his theories into numbered steps and rules. Still, you may find the book challenging, mainly because Scharmer is dealing with such large issues, but also because his ideas and vocabulary can get mystical. This book requires time and patience aplenty, but if you are open to such reflections, it could be for you. getAbstract recommends it to managers interested in personal change, organizational culture and futurism.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why change is essential,
  • How you and your organization can change and
  • What profound change demands of you.


Crisis and Transformation
The world is currently facing not one but many crises. Unbalanced economies make a few people rich and leave most others to starve; education and healthcare systems malfunction and waste money; and the climate is changing. These problems are not beyond human control...
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About the Author

C. Otto Scharmer is the founding chair of the Presencing Institute, a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the co-author of Presence.

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