Photo Credit: Alexy Kudrik, part of Theory U conference in Israel led by BeDo       

About the Presencing Institute

Presencing Institute is the holding entity that maintains the governance, management and administration of u-school and other initiatives supporting awareness-based systems change.

The Presencing Institute was founded in 2006 by MIT Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer Otto Scharmer and colleagues to create an action research platform at the intersection of science, consciousness, and profound social and organizational change. 

Over the past two decades, the Presencing Institute has developed Theory U as a change framework and set of methodologies that have been used by thousands of organizations and communities worldwide to address our most pressing global challenges: climate change, food systems, inequality and exclusion, finance, healthcare and education.

What We Do

The Presencing Institute was founded to develop the theory and practice of deep systems transformation and to support individuals, organizations and multi-sector groups to bring about change in their own contexts

The primary vehicle for this work is the u-school for Transformation, a platform and network of partners that supports capacity-building, research, action labs and movement-building for the advancement of awareness-based systems change, addressing the critical social and environmental challenges of our times.

The Presencing Institute also runs other initiatives and supports institutions, businesses and governments to make the transformations that will allow them to achieve their highest future potential. PI works with each organization to co-design processes that shift the behaviours and practices within teams and with key stakeholders in order to generate better results.

For more information on how PI can support your business or organization, please contact us

Our Story

The Presencing Institute grew out of the MIT Center for Organizational Learning, which was founded by Peter Senge and colleagues together with a group of global companies in the early 1990s. 

Senge was interested in the behavioral dimension of change: Why can we develop the skills that allow us to analyze the broken systems of our current society, but the practical impact on changing these systems can be almost non-existent?

Senge’s book The Fifth Discipline was based on blending (1) system dynamics, (2) organizational change, and (3) the creative processes. What emerged from this synthesis resulted in the concept for the MIT Learning Center.

Otto Scharmer began investigating why some tools worked very well in the hands of some practitioners but were ineffective in the hands of others. He conducted 150 interviews with leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, many of which were conducted with Joseph Jaworski, as well as actively participated in change processes in companies, governments, and communities. The result of this work is Theory U - a framework for learning, leading, innovating, and profound systems change. It has been fully described in Otto’s book Theory U and in the book Presence that Otto co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. Over a period of 10 years, a network began to grow among change makers who were cultivating presencing and the emerging practice of ‘awareness-based systems change’ as an approach to deep systems innovation and renewal in organizations, society and self.

In 2006, the Presencing Institute (PI) was founded as a platform for advancing research and practice on awareness-based systems change, based on Theory U, and as a movement of practitioners apply these tools to bringing about change in the world.

Since its founding, PI has launched several major learning and innovation initiatives (including u-lab, GAIA, SDG Leadership Labs and u-school) and supported major leadership development programs in partnership with Ubuntu Lab (Africa), Asia-Pacific (United in Diversity) and the finance sector (Global Alliance for Banking on Values). PI's publications, journal and blogs contribute to advancing the field of awareness-based systems change.

How We Operate

PI is registered as a 501c3 non-profit organization in Massachusetts, USA and as a GmbH in Berlin, Germany. PI is managed by a small core team, and co-led by a global network of faculty, specialists and partners. Biographies for our team can be found here.