Otto Scharmer
Biography & Resources


Dr. C. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a founding co-director of ELIAS (Emerging Leaders for Innovations Across Systems), a joint leadership development initiative of the UN Global Compact, and the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), along with leading global companies, the World Bank, and NGOs. ELIAS uses the U process of presencing to help young executives co-create profound systems innovations for a more sustainable world. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Center for Innovation and Knowledge Research, Helsinki School of Economics. An international action researcher, he is a co-founder SoL and has consulted with multinational firms and international institutions in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Scharmer holds a Ph.D. in economics and management from Witten-Herdecke University, Germany. His article “Strategic Leadership within the Triad Growth-Employment-Ecology” won the McKinsey Research Award in 1991. His most recent work has included research in the form of dialogue interviews with 150 eminent thinkers on leadership, strategy, and knowledge creation. A synthesis of this research has resulted in a theoretical framework and practice called presencing, which he elaborates in his forthcoming book, Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges, as well as in a co-authored book with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers, Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future (2004). With his colleagues, Otto has used presencing to facilitate profound innovation and change processes both within companies and across societal systems. He lives with his wife and their two children in Boston, Massachusetts.

selected books

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future
with P. Senge, J. Jaworski, and B. S. Flowers (Society for Organizational Learning, 2004)
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selected articles

“The Presence of the Circle Being”
A conversation with the Circle of Seven, Ashland, OR, Sept. 2003. For more on what Otto Scharmer calls “the circle being,” see

MIT OpenCourseWare, Sloan School of Management Leadership Lab for Corporate Social Innovation
A sample of Otto Scharmer's corporate course ware developed for MIT's Sloan School of Management.

Theory U: Leading Profound Innovation and Change by Presencing Emerging Futures
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2004)

organizational affiliations

The Society for Organizational Learning
SoL fosters collaboration among corporations that are committed to fundamental organizational change and to building learning organizations.

Global Leadership Initiative
This institute is dedicated to building leadership capacity, tackling critical social issues, and producing concrete results.

other related websites

Dialog on Leadership