Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week for 6 weeks, 3 hours / session


Dr. Claus Otto Scharmer, MIT Senior Lecturer and Founding Chair of the Presencing Institute

Course Description

This interactive and experiential class is about leading profound innovation for pioneering a more sustainable economy and society. It focuses on the intertwined relationship of the following three questions:

  1. Capitalism 3.0: How can capitalism evolve from its current forms (1.0, 2.0) to an emerging future form (3.0) that creates well-being for all?
  2. Multi-stakeholder innovation: What leadership does it take to create profound innovation in the context of complexity and multiple stakeholders?
  3. Presencing: How can people access their best or authentic self — their highest future possibility — and "act from" that heightened state of awareness in the now?

The class is organized around three main threads:

  1. Personal reflection practices: Each class will introduce a specific reflection practice that will help participants to generate the leadership knowledge that matters most: self-knowledge (Who am I? What is the purpose of my journey?).
  2. Relational practices: Each class will also focus on distinct relational practices that hone the leadership capacities of deep listening, precise observation, and dialogue.
  3. Societal practices: The third thread deals with the current transformation of capitalism ("capitalism 3.0"), sustainability, and our role in multi-sector leadership for profound system-wide innovation and change.

In order to "explore the future by doing," each student will develop a prototype initiative that connects the three threads — the personal, relational, and systemic dimensions.

This course is open to all MBA, MIT and non-MIT students. No special requirements or applications are necessary.

Course Objectives

This course is designed to create three types of knowledge:

  • Conceptual knowledge: key concepts are sustainability and awareness-based leadership (Theory U)
  • Practical knowledge: new tools and practices that help people become better listeners, communicators, and leaders
  • Self-knowledge: the most important dimension of all great leadership — Who am I? What am I here for? What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

Key Ideas

  • Effective leadership involves the capabilities of sense-making, developing relationships, visioning, and inventing new ways of organizing.
  • The keys in sense-making are precise observation, deep listening, and tuning in to emerging patterns.
  • All profound innovation and creativity involves some deeper understanding and knowledge of your Self.
  • Leaders who change the world need to investigate the two root questions of creativity: Who is my Self? What is my Work?
  • In a rapidly changing world, creating the future involves rapid prototyping rather than long-term planning.
  • To make social responsibility in business work, leaders need to develop the skill of facilitating collaboration among key actors from all three sectors: business, government, and civil society.
  • You cannot solve today's leadership problems with the same level of consciousness that created them (paraphrasing Einstein).
  • Leaders must know themselves and their context, and understand the types of changes that can transform society and self.

Required Text

Scharmer, C. Otto. Theory U: Leading From the Future As It Emerges. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009. ISBN: 9781576757635.

Resource Web site

Presencing Institute: Transforming Capitalism


This will be a pass/fail course. In order to pass, you must attend all class sessions. In addition, each student must (a) participate in and facilitate results in a self-organized project, (b) write a weekly reflection report (one page), and (c) write a final reflection paper on some key lessons and observations within two weeks of the end of the course. The final reflection paper should be 2 to 5 pages in length.

Students who sit in on part of the class, or who miss days or parts of days, will not receive credit.