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



By Scott Mautz

The following is an excerpt from Find the Fire

No one overtly chooses to stop learning and growing again, it just kind of happens in the deluge of daily responsibilities (and life). And if it were easy to just kick it into gear again, you would have already done it.

I can help.

I offer research backed insight on how clarity of intent – a specific set of intentions in fact – can serve as ignition to get you over the hump. Here are some powerful prompts to get you gung-ho on learning and growth again, thus opening up inspiration as a joyous by-product.

  • Seek conscious growth (becoming who you are) versus growth for the sake of it

The latter is a hobby; the former is a homecoming. Odds are if you really love learning and growing, as if it were a hobby, you probably don’t need my insight to recommit to it. Lack of time or other common factors are simply getting in the way, or you’d be doing more of it, because you love it. If merely reading this reminds you of how much you love it and you recommit to it accordingly – fantastic. But I’m offering something more compelling. View the process of pursuing growth as a critical step in the journey of becoming who you really are, what you were meant to be. We’d all like more time for our hobbies. But we all simply must make time for becoming the best possible version of ourselves. Not to do so is a travesty, not a mere sidetrack. Raise the stakes.

  • Dread obsolescence

I shared in Make It Matter that pioneers of learning organizations believe that the rate of change in many industries is now so great that the only competitive advantage left may be the very rate at which its constituents are able to learn, grow, and change. So, future-proof yourself and slap back stagnation like the drunken frat boy that it is. Recognize that the need to up your skills is central to maintaining your livelihood, and to feeling like you are contributing your best effort. We are more likely to self-inspire when we are more self-assured.

  • Let your values vault you forward

The values we hold sacred can deeply motivate us. Frame your learning and growing as an opportunity to better serve your values.

For example, perhaps a core value of yours is servitude to others. What can you learn to better serve? Or perhaps you hold dear the value of kindness. What might you learn or who could you study that would help you more consistently show up as kind and caring (other than Hello Kitty)?

Value-incentivized learning is some of the most powerfully motivated and inspiration inducing learning we can muster. Give it a try.

  • Work on your life versus in your life

What if I told you that recommitting to learning and growth could feed a sense of greater control in your life?

When you do so, it gives you a sense you’re working on a better life for yourself and are escaping the hamster wheel of daily life we can all so easily get caught up in.

Some of the best employees I’ve ever had, a) picked up my dry cleaning, and b) worked on the systems they labored in (to make them better), versus just in them – it’s no different for us with our own lives. We can work on our best lives by learning and growing throughout, and basking in the significance of so doing, rather than just looking back one day and realizing we’ve merely been living in our life as it was happening to us.

To assist in this, it’s critical to be disciplined enough to spend less time on the maintenance tasks in your life, and more time on the growth tasks in your life.

Research by K. Anders Ericsson, a leading cognitive science and performance excellence expert, supports this. Ericsson’s studies on growth and expertise, whose subject matters ranged from typists to elite athletes, indicated that rote repetition of a skill, no matter how much, clearly plateaued one’s growth. It was the deliberate practice, working on specific tasks that would grow and stretch, like technique, that lead to true growth.

And so, it is with all of us when we spend more time on tasks that we know will stretch us.

About Scott Mautz

Scott is the CEO of Profound Performance – a keynote, workshop, coaching, and online training company that helps you “Work, Lead, & Live Fulfilled”. He is also a Procter & Gamble veteran who ran several of the company’s largest multi-billion dollar businesses, including their single largest, a $3 Billion Dollar division.  At P&G, Scott consistently transformed business results and organizational/cultural health scores along with it.FindTheFire

Author of upcoming book, Find the Fire: Ignite Your Inspiration and Make Work Exciting Againand award-winning keynote speaker and author of Make it Matter: How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning, a book that’s been named “The 2016 Leadership Book of the Year – First Runner Up” by Leadership & Management Books and a “Best 30 Book of the Year” by Soundview Business Books.

8 Tips for Riding the Mood Elevator [Guest Post]

8 Tips for Riding the Mood Elevator by Larry Senn

The Mood Elevator is an illustration of the human condition; it is our moment-to-moment experience of life. We all ride the Mood Elevator every day, take a moment and identify what floor you are on right now.

The Mood Elevator map is based on my own experience, as well as input from hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of people who have attended seminars that Senn Delaney, the culture shaping firm has put on over the past few decades.

Look at the top of the Mood Elevator and think of the times you’re more likely to be at those levels. It could be when you hug your children at the end of the day, it could be spending quality time with your significant other, or it could be when you accomplish something at work. We all, of course, would love to live on the higher levels but that’s just not realistic. As part of the human condition we will experience loss, stress, financial insecurity and other events that will cause us to drop down to depression, anger, and stress.

In my new book The Mood Elevator, I provide a variety of tips and tools that will help you better understand your human dashboard as well as help you navigate the daily up and down ride of the Mood Elevator.

Here are 8 tips to help you better ride The Mood Elevator:

  1. Know that to be human means you will ride the Mood Elevator and visit each and every floor. Don’t expect to live at the top of the Mood Elevator all of the time, cut yourself some slack when you drop down.
  2. Learn to recognize the feelings that accompany any unhealthy normal thinking or thought patterns, and make them a loud bell. When you start experiencing feelings like: impatience, anger, anxiety, excessive intensity, neediness, disconnection, and self-righteousness it’s a good indication that you’re sliding down the Mood Elevator. When you recognize this, you can take some corrective action to avoid an unhealthy normal.
  3. Use pattern interrupts to change your thinking and your feelings. Pattern interrupts are anything healthy tactics that can help you escape your spiraling negative thoughts. They can include exercise, calling a good friend, watching a funny YouTube video, or getting a good night sleep.
  4. Feed the thoughts you favor, not those that drop you to the lower floors on the Mood Elevator. If you find yourself reminiscing on a negative event in the past, or fixating on a mistake you made at work or might make at work in the future- recognize that your thoughts are going negative. You can identify your thoughts based on your feelings, if you’re feeling worried- it’s probably because you’re having worried thoughts. Use a pattern interrupt or think about something you are grateful for to break that train of thought.
  5. Take better care of yourself and remember to stretch and recover with exercise, sleep, and time off. We are more likely to catch colds if we are run down physically, and we are also more likely to catch bad moods when we are run down physically. Exercise has many mood boosting benefits and eating the right foods can help keep our energy levels up which improves our moods. Have you ever noticed how life can look so much better after a good night sleep? Getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night can drastically help us stay up the Mood Elevator.
  6. Maintain a gratitude perspective, count your blessings daily and be grateful for life itself. Even when life doesn’t look as good as we would like it to, there are always things to be grateful for. Those who choose to look at life with gratitude are happier than those who don’t. Try starting a gratitude practice by making a daily list of what you are grateful for.
  7. Remember that your thinking is unreliable in the lower mood states; delay important conversations and decisions; don’t act on your unreliable thinking, and don’t take your lower mood state out on other people.
  8. Have faith that when you are down the Mood Elevator; this too shall pass-just like the weather. The sun is always up there; the clouds can obscure it, but they will pass as will your low mood.MoodElevator-Floors-LarrySenn

About Dr. Larry Senn

Dr. Larry Senn pioneered the field of corporate culture and founded in 1978, Senn Delaney, the culture shaping unit of Heidrick & Struggles. A sought-after speaker, Senn has authored or co-authored several books, including two best-sellers. His newest is The Mood Elevator (August 2017), the follow up to his 2012 book, Up the Mood Elevator. You can learn more about Larry and his work at his website,

“Clarice the Cow” – Farmer Able [Guest Post]

The pigs are running the farm. So begins the story of Farmer Able. Everyone on his farm — people and animals alike — are downright downtrodden by him. He’s overbearing and compulsively obsessed with profits and productivity. He’s a typical top-down, power-based manager, forever tallying production numbers in his well-worn ledgers. But the more he pushes the hoofs and horns and humans, the more they dig in their heels. That is until one day when he hears a mysterious wind that whispers: “It’s not all about me.” Can he turn things around and begin attending to the needs of those on his farm, thus improving their attitudes and productivity?

The following is an excerpt from chapter 1 of Farmer Able.

Clarice the Cow

“The pigs are running the farm!”

That’s what Farmer Able grumbled to himself and even at times bellowed out loud.

This was the last thing any visitor might notice. After all, the pigs mostly laid in the shade doing nothing, so how could those lazy animals be running anything?

The only initiative they demonstrated was during feeding time. Then they sprang from their mud hole and oinked and squealed feverishly. Being fed by Farmer Able was all they were interested in. Just give them their slop and they were happy.

They were consumed by consuming.

But their piggish behavior didn’t remain with just them. No, this attitude, Farmer Able believed, had begun to afflict all the animals on the farm.

Having heard Farmer Able bellow about the pigs, she finally echoed this sentiment. “It’s all on account of those pigs,” is how she put it. “Those lazy pigs are getting away with doing nothing. Why, if I didn’t have to walk by them every day, I wouldn’t feel the way I do.”

She also hoof-pointed at Farmer Able for his unkindly comments. He, too, was a major source of her rage. In fact, she came to think that her drop in milk production was entirely the pigs’ and the farmer’s fault. And now she could add Bridgette to that list as well. “I don’t need any cow cheering me up because I’m not the one with the problem. She should look at herself. Her cheerfulness is because of her own set of problems that she’s trying to overcome. And I’ll have none of it.”

So Clarice left the milk barn even more determined to eat and chew less. She missed the eating and chewing because that’s what cows do best. Her four stomachs were definitely not full. Not only did this make her extremely hungry, but in addition, the whole thing gave her a sour stomach times four.

However, that didn’t matter. She was willing to put up with these “sacrifices” because she felt Farmer Able was doing her a great disservice. He wasn’t listening. His grumbling and complaining had made him deaf to her moos. In fact, she came to think he didn’t care for her at all.

“It’s all about me,” was how she thought of his attitude. The poor cow didn’t realize that same sour outlook had infected her.

Even the bell he’d hung around her neck came to irritate her. Before, she believed the bell and its sound were gleeful. It confirmed her place as part of the herd, as part of the farm. But it had become just a clanging in her ears. It reminded her of what an awful farm she lived and chewed on.

She imagined other farms and how wonderful they must be. But they were beyond the fence that held her in, so she didn’t let her mind go there. She restricted herself. And she continued restricting her milk production.

Yes, the pigs were running the farm.


Art Barter believes everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. To teach about the power of servant leadership, Art started in his own backyard by rebuilding the culture of the manufacturing company he bought, Datron World Communications.  Art took Datron’s traditional power-led model and turned it upside down and the result was the international radio manufacturer grew from a $10 million company to a $200 million company in six years. Fueled by his passion for servant leadership, Art created the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI).

To learn more about Art and his new Servant Leadership Journal, as well as his book on servant leadership, Farmer Able: A Fable About Servant Leadership Transforming Organizations And People From The Inside Out, endorsed by Stephen M.R. Covey, Ken Blanchard , and John C. Maxwell , visit .

Good Intentions Are Never Enough [Guest Post]

(Originally published at

Good Intentions Are Never Enough

Virtually every leader has a natural bias… we are either more results-oriented or relationship-oriented. However, the best leaders discipline themselves to value both results and relationships. If your natural tendency is to focus on results, one small step you can take to raise the value of relationships is to stop and say thanks.
If you are a more relationship-oriented leader, you can skip the rest of this post. However, I’m guessing tens of millions of leaders should keep reading. Or, perhaps, I just wrote this post for myself; one thing I’ve learned: If I don’t battle against my results orientation, my leadership will always be limited.

The way forward if you are more results-oriented is not to change your bias, but to compensate. To express thanks, gratitude and appreciation can begin to establish a new equilibrium… a world in which even the most results focused leader can demonstrate value for others.

You may be thinking, “People in my life and work know how I feel about them.” My response:

Thoughts of apprec­iation and gratitude unexpressed are m­eaningless.

So, how do you begin? You just do – send a text, write a note, buy a card – and mail it, make a call, send an email, stop by someone’s office, any way you choose, just do it. Stop and say, “Thanks, I appreciate you.”

Who should you reach out to? Here are some broad categories to jump-start your thinking…

Family – When is the last time you thanked your parents for helping you become the person you are today? Have you told your spouse how much you appreciate his or her contributions to your life? Have you thanked your kids recently for the patience they helped you forge?

Friends – I have long believed, you become like the people you hang out with. Our friends are some of the most influential forces in our lives – for good or bad. Assuming your friends have had a positive impact on you, say thanks!

Team – No leader accomplishes anything of significance alone. Yes, your team members are paid to work, but as Peter Drucker once observed, we are all knowledge workers and the key to knowledge work is discretionary effort. Your team can show up and get paid, but if that’s all they do, your leadership is doomed. Thank your team for their discretionary efforts!

Mentors – Who helped you learn what you’ve learned? Who has invested in your growth? Who do you turn to for counsel on difficult decisions? The men and women who serve as your coach, guide or mentor have invested time and energy in your future. Take a moment to say, “I’m thankful for you!”

Influencers – For many of us, this is a far-reaching group. Think back to teachers, coaches, counselors and others who shaped you. Many of them believed in you before you believed in yourself. Why not reach out to these supporting characters in your story and say, “You made a difference in my life.”

The best time to say, “Thank you!” is every day.

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs. 


leaders made here_2