A U process is one of several well documented change strategies that seek to address complexity through social innovation technologies.

Otto Scharmer in Theory U identifies five “movements” in the “U” – the first is establishing and building common ground (co-initiating). This is followed by a process of open observation referred to as co-sensing – where emphasis is placed on staying open to other locations within the system or systems under change. This is to ensure that the possibility of “seeing the whole” operating occurs, rather than more traditional planning limited by current knowledge from few perspectives.

Those undertaking the process then commit to ‘presencing’ to bring a heightened state of focus to inner processes and inspiration – and attending to the whole of the issue at hand. Discovery of general directions that emerge from this reflection lead to the ‘co-creation’ phase, which prototypes results and leads to a final phase of reviewing, editing and moving forward practical forms that have emerged and been tested.

According to Scharmer, the U Process “requires both an inner journey and hard work, and the ability to move through the U as a team or organization requires commitment and adaptability from all concerned.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer,
“Addressing the Blind Spot of Our Time,”
The Social Technology of Presencing
, 2007.


Re-imagining the role of the university bottom arrow

Dialogue goals

  • Broaden and deepen our and thinking on the meaning of civil society
  • Explore the linkages between the universities and civil society sectors
  • Engage university and civil society constituents in a process of imagining how the University of Guelph can move in a direction of greater engagement

Building Blocks of Civil Society