Co-shaping: Grow Innovation Eco-systems

OttopaperbackThe following is an excerpt from The Essentials of Theory U

Co-shaping: Grow Innovation Eco-systems

By Otto Scharmer

The movement of co-shaping focuses on scaling the new while growing and evolving innovation eco-systems for collective impact.

The problem with today’s societal eco-systems is the broken feedback loop between the parts and the whole. The essence of consciousness-based systems thinking, aka Theory U, is to relink the parts and the whole by making the system sense and see itself— by closing the feedback loop between collective impact and shared awareness. At the end of the day, all of the application stories in this book rely on this one methodological backbone.

It is why the innovation labs are working; it is why their initiatives have been able to succeed. But what about the larger eco-systems in which they—and all of us—operate?

That is where these new innovation infrastructures for making the system sense and see itself are largely missing. The lack of these infrastructures is one of the biggest barriers to societal innovation today.

The reason this matters is that we are in the midst of seeing the birth of a fourth coordination mechanism. We are all familiar with the three traditional mechanisms that coordinate our social and economic systems: hierarchies, markets, and negotiations among organized interest groups.

But we know that these three means on their own will not be able to provide the upgrade of our governance mechanisms that is called for today. Therefore, the emerging fourth coordination mechanism is critical: acting from shared awareness—acting from seeing the whole. The development of that collective capacity re- quires cultivation, practice, and enabling infrastructures. And that is what this fifth movement of the U, co-shaping, is about.

Let us begin by talking about the prototypes. Each prototype goes through many iterations. As it evolves, it retains the best features of its earlier forms but changes in other ways in order to improve. The next question is: How can we use what we learn in these small-scale experiments and apply it to the evolution of the whole?

If you have ever been in a live theater production, you know that the actors get input from one another as well as guidance from the director, and the performance benefits from that refining process. Things are added; things are removed. Theater is a living structure—contained, honed, and refined. Only after many rehearsals is the curtain ready to go up. And still it evolves, but now with the added component of the audience’s energy and presence.


More about Otto Scharmer
Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation that helps leaders from business, government, and civil society to innovate at the level of the whole system. He is the author of Theory U (translated into 20 languages) and co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points of transforming capitalism. His latest book, The Essentials of Theory U: Core Principles and Applicationsilluminates the blind spot in leadership today and offers hands-on methods to help change makers overcome it through the process, principles, and practices of Theory U.

In 2015, he co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course for leading profound change that has since activated a global eco-system of societal and personal renewal involving more than 100,000 users from 185 countries. With his colleagues, he has delivered award-winning leadership development programs for corporate clients and co-facilitated innovation labs on reinventing education, health, business, government, and well-being.




Top 10 List of the Best – Lost Classics that ‘THEY’ DON’T Want You to Read

Recently I was listening to the Ray Edwards Show podcast as he interviewed Brian Kurtz, founder of Titan Marketing (you can find the full episode here:

The relatively short amount of time required to listen to this podcast is a craazzzy good investment when you consider the vast amount of history and wisdom shared.

Ray, a top-shelf, class A copywriter, copywriting teacher and marketing strategist along with Brian, a multichannel direct response genius with decades of experience at Boardroom – (having worked alongside the best copywriters of all time) – shared a mutual appreciation for learning from copywriting’s greatest legends.

Heroes such as Claude Hopkins, John Caples, and Eugene Schwartz – Giants on whose shoulders we all stand.

Brian Kurtz was also promoting his new book, The Advertising Solution (Entrepreneur Press, 2016), co-authored with Craig Simpson, in which they outline the timeless principles of the three men named above, as well as Robert Collier, David Ogilvy, and Gary Halbert.

These tried and true principles, that never go out of style, are applicable to all media online or off, and are true essentials for the copywriter looking to master their craft.

And while, The Advertising Solution is a great read (review coming soon) and is kind of a summary synthesis of these men’s greatest hits…

I also highly recommend you study these lost classics that ‘they’ don’t want you to know about.

10 Lost Classics ‘They’ Don’t Want You to Read

What it takes to become the Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Jim Carrey of “character” copywriting:

  • Method Marketing: How to Make a Fortune by Getting Inside the Heads of Your Customers (Bonus Books, Inc., 1999) by Denny Hatch

What Billions of dollars in advertising and years of research taught household brand names like U.S. Steel, Reader’s Digest, and Johnson & Johnson about effective advertising:

  • How to Make Your Advertising Make Money (Prentice Hall, 1983) by John Caples

Why the risky or scandalous will ALWAYS sell, period:

  • First Hundred Million: How to Skyrocket Your Book Sales with Slam Dunk Titles, New Edition (Angelican Press, Vancouver, 2008) by E. Haldeman Julius

The miracle of “Dyna-Psyc” and why it matters more than any literary technique for copywriters, direct-response marketers, and ANYONE, ANYWHERE, who wants to be successful in business of ANY KIND:

  • The Lazy Man’s Way to Riche$: How to Have Everything in the World You Really Want (Penguin Group, 1993) by Richard G. Nixon ( Based on the book by Joe Karbo)

What the U.K.’s best Bird can teach you about how to make your sales letters soar:

  • How to Write Sales Letters that Sell (Kogan Page, 1994) by Drayton Bird

What cargo ship bills of lading, laundry soap powder, and irritational persistence have in common, and why the name Cossman should matter to YOU!:

  • How I Made 1,000,000 in Mail Order –and You Can Too! (Touchstone, Revised, 1993) by E. Joseph Cossman

Gene Schwartz’s OTHER “Breakthrough” communications book that bridges the gab between reality AND eternity – the physical AND spiritual:

  • “You are not far from the Kingdom of God”: One hundred sayings of Jesus, plus their Hebrew sources, that reveal the Anti-Christianity of Anti-Semitism (Second Creation Press, Inc., 1992) by Eugene Schwartz

Why the step-by-step instruction of a Ph.D. and military veteran will drive your local post office nuts!

  • Building a Mail Order Business: A Complete Manual for Success, Fourth Edition (Wiley,1996) by William A. Cohen, Ph.D.

Half-a-dozen and one ways to finally achieve all your financial goals:

  • 7 Steps to Freedom II: How to Escape the American Rat Race (The Hanford Press, 1994) by Benjamin D. Suarez

The Paul Harvey rest of the story to ‘Do you make these mistakes in English?:

  • Maxwell Sackheim’s Billion Dollar Marketing: Concepts and Applications (Towers Club, 1996) by Maxwell Sackheim, Jerry Buchanan, and David A. Reecher

What about you?

Which of these have you read? 

What are you favorite lost classics?

Reply in the comment section below.

Total Rip-Off

That’s exactly what I thought after finishing The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005) by Robert W. Bly.

When comparing the crazy amount of value embedded within these pages, to the small price tag I spent on it, I felt as though I had totally and completely ripped Mr. Bly off.

The cost to value ratio is so unbalanced, you’d be a fool not to immediately buy and devour this book.

The Copywriter’s Handbook will literally help you leapfrog the competition by accessing a treasure trove of Bly’s experiences through his many years of writing successful ads.

Seriously, this is one of the most practical and tactical books on copywriting that I have ever read.

In The Copywriter’s Handbook you will learn:

  • 38 headline examples
  • The 4 – “U’s” of great copy
  • 15 ways to open a sales letter
  • The 10 – point criteria of ads that sell
  • 11 ways to make your writing more readable
  • 22 reasons why people might buy your product
  • The 7 questions you must ask about your audience

Whether you’re a novice to writing copy, a veteran of the craft, a small business owner looking to increase profits, or a solopreneur looking to start a side-hustle with the written word, you will find answers to your most relevant and pressing questions.

Additionally, Mr. Bly writes and speaks in a totally approachable and personal manner.

He’s wisdom gently rolls off the pages just like you would expect coming from a passionate master and caring mentor.

I’m buying and studying more of Bob’s books (several of which he personally recommended for my specific situation) to grow my business.

5 Stars all day.

Joshua Lee Henry, M.A. & MBA Essentials, Salesforce

Founder & CEO, Activate Advertising Agency, L.L.C