17 Wonderful C. Otto Scharmer Quotes

Otto Scharmer is a senior lecturer at MIT and is known for authoring the book, ‘Theory U: Learning from the Future as it Emerges.’ He is credited with co-founding the MITx u.lab, bringing online course material across more than 185 countries and communities. Here is a look at some C. Otto Scharmer quotes that are the most memorable.

“How to use and leverage the presence and power of certain places for accessing the authentic dimension of self in individuals and in communities, is one of the most interesting research questions for the years to come.”

“I once asked one of the most successful leaders of the telecom industry what she considered to be the essence of her leadership work. She responded, ‘I am facilitating the opening process so my team can sense and seize emerging opportunities as they arise from the fast paced business environment we are operating in.'”

“I think it is now time for social scientists to step out of the shadow and to establish an advanced social sciences methodology that integrates science (third-person view) social transformation (second-person view) and the evolution of self (first-person view) into a coherent framework of consciousness-based action research”

“Isn’t there a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility—and to begin to operate from that place?”

“Leadership in its essence is the capacity to shift the inner place from which we operate. Once they understand how, leaders can build the capacity of their systems to operate differently and to release themselves from the exterior determination of the outer circle.”


“Leadership is about being better able to listen to the whole than anyone else can.”

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

“Our society must move from ego-system to eco-system economics. This requires that we shift from ego-system silos to eco-system awareness that considers others and includes the whole.”

“The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

“The business that leaders are in today, is the business of transforming awareness… There is deep longing for more meaning, for connections.”

“The crisis of our time isn’t just a crisis of a single leader, organization, country, or conflict. The crisis of our time reveals the dying of an old social structure and way of thinking, an old way of institutionalizing and enacting collective social forms.”

“The one thing that I have learned from all these projects is that the key to transformative change is to make the system see itself. That’s why deep data matters. It matters to the future of our institutions, our societies, and our planet.”

“This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”

“We live in an era of organized irresponsibility.”

“What happens at the beginning of any creative process? Nothing! Creativity requires that we create space and wait for something to emerge.”

“Wisdom becomes nonsense in the mouth of a fanatic.”

“You cannot understand a system unless you change it.”

In this clip, Otto Scharmer briefly discusses the key principles to this two books, ‘Theory U’ and ‘Presencing.’

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