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Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,388 ratings  ·  87 reviews
How would the world change if we learned to access, individually and collectively, our deepest capacity to sense and shape the future? This is just one of the questions posed by the authors of a book that combines unusual personal honesty with rigorous critical thinking.

Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future gives the reader an intimate look at the developmen

Hardcover, 289 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Sol
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,388 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In seminary, I took a class called "Mysticism and Human Presence." Later, I stumbled onto Ralph Harper's book, "On Presence." Then I discovered Bernard McGinn's magnum-opus-in-progress, a history of Western Christian mysticism called "The Presence of God." All of these were significant to the formation of my theology. So when I saw this book - co-written by Peter Senge, whose work on "learning organizations" I have found so helpful - it was irresistible. When I began reading it, I was reminded o ...more
Neelesh Marik
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The longest road you will ever walk is the sacred journey from your head to your heart'
Omar Halabieh
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The central theme in this book is to present a new theory - the U movement - around how collective change occurs. The theory presents a new way for us to look at current reality and understand how we are contributing to it, but more importantly how we can re-shape it to what we want it to be. One of the fundamental underpinnings of this theory is that, while we usually break down systems into their individual parts to understand them, this decomposition does not work effectively for understandin ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I wrote on the inside cover: A really excellent book! And if you were to open my copy you'd find it's filled with my annotations. I went on to write an article inspired by the book:
Leadership, information gathering and the future - What if we’ve got it wrong?

Here's a quote from that article:
(...) My hypothesis is that we will find a growing discrepancy between what we plan for the future and what comes about because of the actions we undertake to make it h
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The dedicated efforts of this group of writers will probably accomplish good things, but I struggled to finish this book. A sincere, naive group of "servant leaders" collaborated to share their worldview. Sadly, too much of what is presented as fact is actually belief; group-think that was so carefully dissected and examined within the group that it clearly has substance for those involved.

The approach that the writers advocate - basically for leaders to be present and connected to team members
Jan 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For a rational lover of non-fiction by Dawkins, Diamond and the like, reading this book caused a lot of aggravation. The basic message is maybe okay, though it does feel like a course for MBTI "S"s on how to become more of an intuitive "N".
The tone is intolerably smug, and factoids that are supposed to underpin certain outlandish theories are often given without reference to any reliable source. The American-centric point of view provides ludicrous distortions, such as in the passage where the a
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is for the leader who is tired of pretending the system works well and wants a purpose beyond self-promotion and profit. This work will connect you to a better part of yourself and show you a way to honour humanity and our environment.

Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flower's book Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society is a subtle, mature, and daring book. It dares to confront everything what is not working in our
Niklas Eklund
I really like the concept of the U-theory and I found the way it was written to be very comfortable and interesting (it was written as if in a constant group dialogue). However while I found it comfortable to read it was at the same time hard to grasp at point on what they were arguing about. You get about 3/4 of the book hearing about the U-theory until you actually see the model itself.

Another major grip is the religious/spiritual aspects that shines through the entire book. And the constant r
Ric Winstead
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Ric by: Oksana
An important book for anyone who wants to make deep changes to avoid the requiem scenario.

Combines a Buddhist & Tao understanding of the Self as part of the change process both as participant and co-creator of both our stuckness in the present toxic world and as the enabler of unfolding new integral action with natural flow. It describes entering into a sacred place of dancing with inner/outer manifestations. Leadership & becoming human.

Some amazing stories of self-discovery and revela
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Presence presents a new model of personal and organisational change. Much of the book comprises transcripts of conversations between the authors, on subjects including science, business, leadership and spirituality. The authors' central question is: how do we individually and collectively bring about useful change i
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like being part of the amazing, organic, "think tank" of some the great minds of our times. It is a brilliant exploration to the collective, global overhaul we need to begin in order to effect significant change in our world. These thinkers postulate the we CAN shape our future in a profound way by tapping into our collective consciousness and reshaping traditional organizational learning. I LOVED how this book tied together wisdom gained from mainstream corporate America a ...more
-My idealism isn't immature. Smart people with profound experiences think like I do. Phew.
-Open up to the unpredictable dynamics of team work. Your value is in what you contribute, not in how fast you come up with 'the solution' (which you can't and really shouldn't do on your own anyway).
-Raise your awareness and think in systems.
-Be authentically you because what you bring to every situation influences it profoundly. False professional personas don't just protect you from others, they also in
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to have to read this book again when I finish it. Am enjoying it incredibly. Looks like the business case for presence to me!
Bjørn Peterson, PhD
Refreshingly unique format and storytelling approach to such a book. Nice to see the struggles and journeys of the authors.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book started off promisingly, with a respectable, academic tone. By the 144th page, (forty more than I would have liked to struggle through), I threw in the towel because it had clearly turned totally new-agey. Even IF I didn't mind new-agey content, the word-for-word conversation and background-building style of the writing added a lot of unnecessary details to process. I found the lack of a point more and more glaring with every passing chapter; all sorts of stuff was mentioned and quoted, ...more
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always look for a nugget of wisdom in every book I read. This book certainly had a few but it was not an easy read. It set up as if you’re listening in on a conversation of 4 people who are evolving their thoughts on how we, people and all living things, and maybe just all things, are interconnected. It introduces the U Theory which taps into the collective. I’m not sure I totally understand the theory but I’m also not sure that we’re meant to.
Trevor Sterner
There were some really good quotes and ideas in this book, however much (perhaps all) of what is in here as evidence is really just one off examples without any science behind them. We humans are really good at finding meaning in randomness that lines up with our biases.

Still worth a read just to open your mind to different ideas, but worth retaining a high degree of scepticism.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

New perspective, definitely teaching new ways of doing/seeing/being etc.
I would have liked more guidance on how to get through the U, but they were a lot of examples. I'll have to practice now.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Will read again one day to digest it more.
Kim Zinkowski
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book...passed to Jim.
Julia Fink
Mar 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as the book jacket sounded...too long and boring in spots...
Ad Huikeshoven
After reading Theory U by Otto Scharmer I read this book to read about the origins of U-theory or U-procedure.
Soren Molander
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fact-books
First of all, the basic themes of this book are fundamentally sound. Having seen how the workplace has become ever more disconnected from many basic human values over the last 10 years, pretty much everybody realizes that something is wrong about the hows and whys we work. The book is concentrated around conversations among a group of people (CEOs and consultants) who want to change how many (if not most) companies and organizations work today. I don't work primarily to increase shareholder valu ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all high level managers
Shelves: ralph
from the library c2004 Authors Peter Senge, C Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers

The book before Theory U which in my opinion is the real book about this subject of groups learning to learn.

about 290pages with notes, acknowledgments, Index
Table of Contents
Introduction p3-21
Part 1 Learning to see
Ch 1 the requiem scenario
ch 2 Seeing our Seeing
The capacity to Suspend/ Suspending together/Building a container/the courage to see freshly/the inner work of suspending/integrating the inne
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because one of the authors, Betty Sue Flowers, was a speaker for the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio. I found that even though it is almost a decade old, it dovetailed nicely into her talk.

The book is not organized typically, there are lots of sections that are transcripts of the authors' conversations. The lessons are organically grown from these anecdotes. Lots of Buddhist and Confucianism references. This is not a "how to guide" to healthier organizations or a sin
Gloria Denoon
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book adopts a spiritual approach and makes an interesting point that most deep kinds of learning and change take place when we are connected with that sacred place of seeing the whole and figuring out how we can be part of an emerging reality.

I appreciate the discussion on how the suspension of habitual thoughts enhances our ability to see things with fresh eyes and, how, with appropriate re-direction, we can possibly learn to see the whole or the generative theme. This is an inward process
This is one of those books that may take several reads to truly "get." I was drawn to the book by the subtitle: "an exploration of profound change in people, organizations, and society." Four scientific thinkers get together to ponder the meaning of change in everyday life, in organizations, in the4 world and in the universe. It is pretty heady stuff, largely steeped in Eastern religious thought, that at times I tried to translate into my Western ,Christian framework. At times I felt like they w ...more
“Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society” (Peter M. Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers) is the closest thing I have ever read that describes how I try to work as a consultant! I found myself talking back to the book and even exclaiming AHA! to the guy next to me on the plane. I am a huge fan of Peter Senge (who also authored “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization,” but was amazed that he was a ...more
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: org-development
I think if I had read this book when it came out in 2005 I would have loved it and soaked it up. Now it just seems old. It is also not terribly well written but I stuck with it because it details some aspects of their learnings from leaders that seem important.

Overall, I think the authors are trying to lift up the gifts spirituality can bring to operational practice and leadership but don't quite know how to say that given their contexts. Or perhaps they wrote the book before they settled more d
John Stepper
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind. Blown.

It might be easy to dismiss this book. The language and concepts can easily seem too abstract. But a friend with a considerable brain recommended it so I found a quiet place and focused. :-)

The effort was well worth it. The ideas are helpful I anyone trying to make sense of the big questions: Why are we here? Who am I? Where are we all heading? Reading this book at the same time I'm reading Tolle's "Power of Now" made for many interesting connections.

And the book is also fascinatin
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change making in the world 2 10 Jul 25, 2011 08:59AM  
  • Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges
  • Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership
  • Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future
  • The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
  • Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life
  • Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities
  • Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
  • Birth of the Chaordic Age
  • Community: The Structure of Belonging
  • The Living Company
  • Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
  • Open Space Technology: A User's Guide
  • Building the Bridge as You Walk on It: A Guide for Leading Change
  • Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization
  • Dialogue: The Art of Thinking Together
  • On Dialogue
  • Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity
Peter M. Senge is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL), a global community of corporations, researchers, and consultants dedicated to the "interdependent development of people and their institutions."
--from the author's website
“breakthroughs come when people learn how to take the time to stop and examine their assumptions.” 5 likes
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” said Victor Hugo” 1 likes
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