Author: Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer,
Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers
Publisher: Currency Doubleday
Length: 289 Pages

This book is a deep and challenging attempt to bring visibility to spirituality and to the heart of organizations and business enterprises. Presence is a "unique conversation" in book form between the authors presenting non traditional insights. It seeks to offer a series of messages which are holistic, positive and energizing but will be very challenging for readers who focus only on the reality of western culture.

The authors dialog and discussion is based around the premise of "your way"... what is it... when they say your name... that YOUbring to the table as a person and member of an organization. It is a summary of the individual skill sets, ways of thinking, actions and energy that makes up a person. This new, but also possibly living systems way of thinking proposes a 7-step "U Movement" plan to help move through Sensing, Presencing and Realizing. The seven steps from left to right are: 

Suspending - seeing our seeing

Redirecting - seeing the whole

Letting Go

Letting Come

Crystallizing - envisioning what seeks to emerge

Prototyping - enacting living microsms

Institutionalizing - an embodying of the new

The "U Theory" starts with a downward movement along a U-diagram, leading the reader (as a person) away from known mental maps moving towards a higher sense of purpose. The bottom of the U-diagram (p. 219) is a state of Presence from which the reader can experience a higher possible future. This awareness moves us up on the other side of the U, into opportunities to establish new relationships and institutions. It could be said that the U-diagram is similar to a learning curve which represents a "Living Curve" which can influence our self.Others have pointed out that the U model is an application of "Wholeness" thru Goethean scientific methodology to the decision making process, no comment there but it provides a valuable insight into the nature of being and is easy to visualize.

"Presence" is unique in that Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski and Flowers have chosen to invite the reader along on their journey. This includes the dialog from scientists and business representatives that they interviewed about a theory on learning and living systems. These include personal discussions in a group conversational setting on personal enlightenment, the nature of mysticism, Taoism and Buddhism but the dialog is reapplied to contemporary western mindsets. The authors openly admit that this wisdom described throughout the ages and the great works in spiritual traditions reflect a lot of their ideas.

I think a simple point the authors are trying to make without overtly needing to state it is the influence of good spirit, music, art and experience on the formation of water crystals. These messages are around us but we may not hear or see them unless we use new ways. The photos on pages 242 thru 245 show the work of Masaru Emoto in Japan documenting the transformation of water crystals that have been imaged by magnetic resonance. A key point to the material is the philosophy that "the interdependency of the universe extends from the micro to the macro, from the visible to the invisible." Definitely a yin-yang approach to a mindset which proposes that "love is the only emotion that can expand intelligence."

This book is extremely beneficial to anyone openly interested in the process of deepening collective learning. It also expands the development of Leadership and Management concepts and opens honest dialog among the authors on embracing individual, business and social change. The material content requires the reader to cognitively open up and partially understand areas that they may have no experience or awareness in - if you're willing to extend yourself in this way the material on Presence can be life changing.


Published In: May 2007, In2In Thinking Network