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Theory U meets New Work

By Jannik Kaiser, co-founder and co-CEO from Unity Effect.

Most trends and changes are accompanied by new terminology, a kind of secret language for those who feel connected to the trend. In the shadow of the debates about digitalisation, artificial intelligence or automation, which are often conducted with uncertainty and fear, a new trend is emerging. The buzz words of this trend include New Work and Theory U. In this world we use Scrum and Sprint planning, form coaching circles and make Case Clinics, develop VUCA strategies and reflect on our purpose.

Even if all these approaches and concepts differ from each other, they still ask us the following central questions: How do we want come together in the work context, now and in the future? And what contribution do we as an organization and as individuals make to “the greater whole”?

Furthermore, they are based on a central assumption: Yes, we can. We can actively shape our future. It is up to us to answer these questions and to create environments in which we can practice and learn this.

Here, the human experience and interaction becomes central. Technology and digital innovation are helpful, but ultimately we negotiate and create our future face-to-face. And especially when we step out of our everyday bubbles and enter into an honest and open dialogue with people from other sectors and companies. Whether local initiative, multinational company or state institution: we all have a contribution to make and can learn from each other. The exchange with each other is more important than ever to tackle our challenges. The launch of our New Work Journey also demonstrated this.

New Work Journey in Bonn

We already have models and knowledge at hand to shape our future. And there are many people who are willing to drive change forward. So, what are we waiting for?

That was also our motto – Unity Effect e.V. and Kompano Entwicklungsberatung. With our New Work Journey we create a space for the exchange of ideas, knowledge and inspiration.

Over 4 evenings we will come together in Bonn to develop prototypes for the working world of tomorrow. We will focus on a cross-sector exchange with each other, based on the willingness to engage in a group process. Through this exchange we will get into action, and from there we will create a contribution for the (working) world of tomorrow.

The New Work Journey in Bonn: over 4 evenings we will come together in Bonn to develop prototypes for the working world of tomorrow.

At the Info-session we welcomed 25 participants to the Social Impact Lab Bonn, institution that is co-hosting this program. Coaches, teachers, representatives of major banks and small social enterprises, students and people in points of personal transition were present. Our journey officially starts on 26 September. So there is still the possibility to participate.

Our primary framework for the journey is Theory U – one of these terms that is worth taking a closer look at.

The power of the U

If we look around us, we see numerous challenges: climate change (or better: climate crisis), nationalism or mass migration. If we look at these phenomena from the bottom up, we find that it is usually our current economic system that is at the root of these issues. A form of capitalism that places corporate interests and shareholder value thinking above social and ecological responsibility.

So what is currently at stake is nothing less than the transformation of our economic system.

Not only socially committed people long for change. More and more people in large corporations are aware of the need for radical change. But how can we apply this in environments that are still based on old principles? How can we remove people’s fear of getting involved in this change?

Crossing the threshold: License by Presencing Institute – Otto Scharmer.

We all have to let go of old patterns of thinking. With the model of Theory U we can connect and transform intuition into action: an essential bridge to deal with the challenges of our time.

Additionally, Theory U can help provide a collaborative framework for social innovation. In order to implement ideas, we need honest feedback from others.

Yet the greatest strength of Theory U, from my point of view, is the understanding that the responsibility and potential for action lies within us. We can no longer blame or wait for others (“the” politics, “the” economy, “the” management).

Instead of looking outside, at our surroundings and circumstances, the question is: Which skills and what inner attitude do I want to draw on to make change possible? In this way the question of one’s own contribution and one’s own possibilities becomes central: why do I stand up for something, why do I get involved in a project?

Our New Work Journey is about reshaping the world of work. And we do this as individuals, with all our personal wishes and challenges.

So join us at the kick-off of the New Work Journey on 26 September to embark together on a journey.

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