The blind spot: Uncovering the grammar of the social field — Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer

From The Huffington Post

This post is a bit longer than usual. But if you are interested in the invisible dimension of leading profound social change — and in a blend of action science and consciousness to illuminate that blind spot — it may be worth the read.

My father is a farmer. As one of the pioneers of bio-dynamic farming in Germany, he devotes all his attention to cultivating the quality of the soil in his fields. That’s exactly what I find myself doing today, though in a very different type of field. My colleagues and I, along with countless change makers, leaders, action researchers and facilitators, are cultivating the quality of the social field. By social field I mean the structure of the relationship among individuals, groups, organizations and systems that gives rise to collective behaviors and outcomes.

When people experience a transformational social shift, they notice a profound change in the atmosphere, in the texture of the social field. But in trying to explain it, they tend to fall back on vague language; and even though people can agree on a surface description of what happened, they don’t usually know why it happened or what words to use to describe it.

Today, in most social systems, we collectively produce results that no one wants. These results show up in the form of environmental, social, and cultural destruction. The ecological divide (which disconnects self from nature), the social divide (which disconnects self from other), and the spiritual divide (which disconnects self from self) shape the larger context in every large system change today.

The intention of this paper is to uncover the grammar of the social field — the key variables that make it possible for the operating logics and modes (states and stages) of a social field to shift.

The Blind Spot

All human beings participate in co-creating the complex social networks that we live in and engage with. Still, despite the fact that seven billion people are busy co-creating this field moment to moment, the process of social reality creation remains enigmatic because it is connected to our blind spot. Most people much of the time experience social reality as something exterior — as a world “out there” that is doing something tous. That is, most of us are unaware of the process that brings our social reality into being in the first place: the source from which our attention, intention, and action originate when we engage with others and with ourselves.

Read the full post at The Huffington Post.

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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