Sustainable Development Drivers
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Sustainable Development Drivers

The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance

Edited by Kees Zoeteman

Sustainable development cannot be prescribed – rather, it results from conscious personal choices in government, business and NGOs. This thought-provoking book explores both the origins and future of the global sustainable development movement, and provides an original overview of the driving forces of sustainable development, including market forces and past and future trends.
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Chapter 16: The Conflict of Our Time

Otto Scharmer


Otto Scharmer1 SUMMARY In his book, Theory U (2007), Otto Scharmer identifies three divides, social, ecological and cultural/spiritual, that he believes need to be addressed jointly in the sustainable development discussion. Scharmer articulates in this book the social technology that he calls ‘presencing’, which suggests that the more complex the challenge the more important it is to deepen the transformation process that addresses the challenge. Deepening a transformation process implies addressing and including the collective wisdom and will of all stakeholders in the context of a social system. Presencing, and Theory U in general, describe this level of transformation on not only the individual and organizational level, but also on the societal level – and by doing so explores the impact on business, global governance and the capitalism-based dominant economic system. Scharmer’s work also identifies the negative space of ‘absencing’. As an anti-space of presencing, absencing describes the annihilation of the larger collective ecological and social systems. INTRODUCTION This chapter is based on an interview with Otto Scharmer, author of the book Theory U.2 In Theory U, Scharmer introduces four evolutionary stages that are included in what he calls the U-process. The shape of the ‘U’ reflects different qualities of social interaction that are accompanied by different developmental stages, three of which he positions in the descending left-hand part of the U, and which are designated, respectively, as follows: ● ● Downloading, repeating patterns of the past; Seeing, by suspending judgment, and seeing with fresh eyes, a precondition for dialogue and innovation; and...

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