Transformation Dialogues

A library of dialogues exploring the theory and practice of transformative leadership, regenerative agriculture and systems change.

In this page you will find:









DoTS | Dialogues on Transforming Society & Self

10 episodes of Dialogues on Transforming Society & Self. These monthly online Dialogues each centered around a key topic of societal transformation.
With a variety of guests, stories and breakout sessions, these Dialogues provided a space for coming together and sensing into inspiring examples of societal renewal. 
DoTS 1 | Otto Scharmer on Societal Transformation: 3 Narratives, 3 Shifts
The session addressed three important areas in which major shifts are happening: politics, economy and education. Otto Scharmer: "The cracks in the old system are opening up. It's an art form that we need to develop to not waste our time on stuff that isn't changeable, but really find those openings, the cracks where they are open, and to begin to work with them." 
DoTS 2 | Eva Pomeroy & James Martin on Reinventing the 21st Century University 
This dialogue session centered on how to rethink the university of the present and future, and is part of a larger and ongoing conversation on deep axial shifts
DoTS 3 | Kenneth Hogg on Systems Collapse & The Rise of People
This session focused on the new political coordinates of our time and what it might mean to reframe leading change and navigate transition as people need to re-orient, adjust, and often also deal with resistance.
DoTS 4 | Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism
Shoshana’s work has focused on helping people accelerate their grasp on the unprecedented, as this has been unfolding in technology. She says: “the forces that drive the unprecedented have the advantage of time. They have the first mover advantage. They can shape the landscape before we have woken up to what is happening.”

DoTS 5 | Chad Frischmann on Drawdown: How to reverse Global Warming
We have so many brilliant solutions, it is mainly a matter of putting them into action. Instead of focusing on the problem, which is what commonly happens in public discourse, Chad advocates for highlighting the solutions and getting on with them. Referring to "touchable solutions", he presented the Top 20 climate solutions as a tapestry of possibilities.

DoTS 6 | Melanie Goodchild on Indigenous Wisdom and the Civilizational Shift from Ego to Eco
Melanie shares about her journey of integrating Indigenous knowledge with her academic training as she founded the Turtle Island Institute, which "in English we call a think and do tank, but the elders call it a teaching lodge". Before the institute could be created, Melanie first had to go through a process "of decolonizing her own practice" to move away from a "business as usual" approach.
DoTS 7 | Kelvy Bird on Generative Scribing: the Power of Social Arts
Kelvy explains that in Generative Scribing you're “holding the whole system”, which includes “what’s not in the room. You’re holding what’s in between the people.” This requires “understanding that this moment in time that you’re helping to represent" is not the only dimension you tap into; "you’re actually sensing into what came before that moment and what might emerge from that moment.”
DoTS 8 | Arawana Hayashi - Reshaping Systems Change: Inventing New Social Arts and Awareness-Based Social Technologies
Arawana shares how embodiment through "heart intelligence" helps us to make systems visible: “the Presencing part is bringing this sense of mindfulness and awareness to this moment of our experience, which can be fresh and doesn’t have to be dictated by our habitual patterns.”
DoTS 9 | Angel Acosta - Collective Healing: Facing 400 Years of Structural Inequality
“The question that I’ve been asking myself for last several years, is: What is the connection between social justice and mindfulness?" Having explored deep structural social justice issues on the one hand, but also "this power of the mind and body to create ease and peace and mindfulness" on the other, he says that "what I’ve come to learn is that at the center of all of that is healing. This idea of providing a space for healing, restoration, and reconciliation.”
DoTS 10 | Drew Jones - Climate Interactive: from Opinion, to Fact, to Grounded Action
Drew speaks about his life’s work to develop a climate simulation model, and invites participants on a journey taking them from opinion, to facts, towards proposals for grounded action. “There is no silver bullet,” says Drew. “We need to think of it as a ‘silver buckshot."









Dialogues on Soil and Society

With a focus on the acupuncture point of soil and food, guest speakers were invited to speak of our relationship to soil and to food and how to further connect to nature and to the spirit of place.

In this dialogue, Pedro Paulo Diniz shares on the topic: "Regenerative Organic Can Feed the World" and explains how he has developed organic farming practices and built networks and partnerships, the groundwork for large-scale regenerative agriculture in Brazil.


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Tobias Bandel

Tobias Bandel on soil health, true cost accounting, and full-hearted agriculture.

Louise Luttikholt

Louise Luttikholt on herding cows, the cost of chemicals, and what it will take to transition to organic agriculture by 2030.

Laura Lengnick

Laura Lengnick on the power of story, city-region food systems, and regenerative economics.









Dialogues on Leadership


Otto Scharmer, in many cases together with Joseph Jaworski, conducted 150 interviews with leading thinkers on knowledge and leadership, inventors, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics, as well as actively participating in change processes in companies, governments, and communities. The results of these dialogues form the foundation on which Theory U was developed [1996-2000].

Revisit some of the dialogues below.

W. Brian Arthur

Is best known for his work on positive feedbacks or increasing returns in the economy–what happens when products that gain market share find it easier to gain further market share–and their role in locking markets in to the domination of one or two players. His work on increasing returns won him a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1987 and the Schumpeter Prize in Economics in 1990.

Henri Bortoft

Is an independent researcher in the philosophy of science. He did postgraduate research on the problem of wholeness in quantum physics with David Bohm and Basil Hiley at Birkbeck College. Subsequently he worked with J.G. Bennett at the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy, and the Sciences, on the problem of language and the perception of wholeness.

Cirle of Seven (Co7)

In the summer of 1995, six women gathered in a circle in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their ostensible task was the development of a program for women who were going through changes in their lives. This circle, now known as the Circle of Seven, has been meeting for four days three times a year for the past eight years. The seventh place represents the presence of the Great Spirit and provides an occasional space for an invited guest.

Jonathan Day

Founded a consulting firm in the early 1980s. He then went to McKinsey, and stayed for almost 15 years; Monitor Group; and Heidrick & Struggles, the executive search firm. He continues to teach at London Business School (LBS) and INSEAD, and is chairman of Eightwell, a coalition of senior practitioners in leadership, organization, and governance.

Jürgen Dormann

In the Spring of 1994, Jürgen Dormann became CEO of Hoechst, a Frankfurt based multinational with 172,000 employees working in 120 countries across diverse businesses ranging from cosmetics, to dyes, fibers and pharmaceuticals. Today, the former Hoechst campus near Frankfurt hosts 40 separate spun off companies.

Arie de Geus

Joined Royal Dutch/Shell in 1951 and remained with the company for 38 years. During his last 10 years at Shell, Arie became increasingly interested in the nature of large corporations, their decision-making processes, and the management of change and he is widely credited with originating the concept of the learning organization.

Ronald Heifetz

Co-directs the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been responsible for developing a theory of leadership and a method for leadership development. His research aims to provide strategy and tactics for mobilizing adaptive work in politics, businesses, and nonprofits.

Nan Huai-Chin

Is a teacher and scholar famous in China but little know outside of China and Taiwan. He has written over 30 books, which have sold literally tens of millions of copies in China. Master Nan just finished a new interpretation of one of the two Confucian classics, "The Great Learning." This essay, originally written by Confucius’ grandson 2400 hundred years ago has been a mainstay of Chinese culture ever since.

Bill Isaacs

William Isaacs is Founder and President of Dialogos, a leadership consulting and strategy development firm based in Cambridge, MA. He co-founded the Organizational Learning Center at MIT and is a Senior Lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Joseph Jaworski

Has devoted much of his life to the study and practice of leadership development. He began his professional career as an attorney, specializing in domestic and international litigation. By 1980, Jaworski had resigned from all of these activities to found the American Leadership Forum, a non-governmental agency responsible for developing collaborative leadership.

Hans Joas

He is Professor of Sociology at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Chicago, where he also belongs to the Committee on Social Thought. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. He is author of G. H. Mead: A Contemporary Re-examination of His Thought; Pragmatism and Social Theory ; The Creativity of Action; and The Genesis of Values.

Thomas Johnson

Holds the Retzlaff Chair in Quality Management in the School of Business Administration at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. He has practiced, taught, and written extensively in the fields of economic/business history, management accounting, and quality management and has served on the editorial boards of various organization.

Michael Jung

Founded and led the Vienna Office and the European Leadership and Organization Practice. Over the last years, he has pursued a research program to understand the fundamental structures and dynamics of organizations. A Special Initiative — "The Architecture of Organizational Performance" - defined a new view on the determinants of organizational development.

John Kao

Founded The Idea Factory in San Francisco (which has expanded to Europe and Asia). The Idea Factory’s clients include Nissan, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and United Parcel Service. In 1999 Kao bought London’s Ealing Studios with plans to turn it into a new digital studio. Kao’s evolving vision is to build an innovation keiretsu, which he describes in the interview.

Robert Kegan

Is a Professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Education and soon to be named the first Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development. He is the educational chair of Harvard’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and is co-director of a joint program with the Harvard Medical School to bring principles of adult learning to the reform of medical education.

Khoo Boon Hu

Tan Sri Khoo Boon Hui born in 1954 in Singapore, is the Senior Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Mr Khoo Boon Hui served as President of INTERPOL from 2008 to 2012, when he was succeeded by Mireille Balestrazzi. He was formerly the Commissioner of the Singapore Police from July 1997 to January 2010.

Thomas Malone

Founder and director of the MIT Center for Coordination Science and was one of the two founding co-directors of the MIT Initiative on "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century." Professor Malone's research focuses on how new organizations can be designed to take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology.

Ikujiro Nonaka

Professor of Knowledge at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and a professor at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. He also is the Visiting Dean of the Center for Knowledge and Innovation Research at the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and the founding dean of the Graduate School of Knowledge Science at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Ryosuke Ohashi

holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Ludwig-Maximilians University München. He received his Phil. Habil (Habilitation) from Würzburg University. His publications except works in Japanese include: Ekstase und Gelassenheit. Zu Schelling und Heidegger. His special fields are: Phenomenology, Aesthetics, German Idealism, Heidegger, the Japanese Philosophy orientated by Buddhism.

Wanda J. Orlikowski

Professor of Information Technologies and Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Her primary research interests focus on the dynamic interaction between organizations and information technology, with particular emphasis on organizing structures, cultures, and work practices. She is currently exploring the organizational and technological aspects of working virtually.

Eleanor Rosch

Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, in the Department of Psychology. Having finished her Ph.D. at Harvard, Rosch demonstrated in a series of experiments during the 1970s that when people label an everyday object or experience they rely less on abstract definitions than on a comparison with what they regard as the best representative of the category designated by that word.

Peter Senge

Senior Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Founding Chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). He authored The Fifth Discipline and co-authored The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, The Dance of Change, and Schools That Learn. Senge's work articulates a cornerstone position of human values in the workplace to realize their potentials.

Peter Senge and Otto Scharmer

In Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future, a companion book to the best selling classic The Fifth Discipline and its sequels, organizational learning experts Peter M. Senge, Otto Scharmer, and their coauthors Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers provide an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning.

Rupert Sheldrake

Studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge and Philosophy at Harvard. He took a PhD in Biochemistry at Cambridge and was a Research Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. The author of four books and over fifty papers in scientific journals, he is married, has two sons, and lives in London.

Lucy Suchman

Professor in the Centre for Science Studies and Sociology Department at Lancaster University in England. She received a Ph.D. in Social/Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley, and spent twenty years as a researcher at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Her research has focussed on the sociomaterial practices that make up technical systems.

Francisco Varela

Biologist; director of research at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, and professor of cognitive science and epistemology at the École Polytechnique, in Paris; author of Principles of Biological Autonomy; coauthor with Humberto D. Maturana of Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living and The Tree of Knowledge, and with Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch of The Embodied Mind.

Georg von Krogh

Professor, director of the Institute of Management, and co-founder of the research center KnowledgeSource at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. His main research interests are strategy, technological innovation, and knowledge management. He has been a visiting professor at several universities, including the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

Jack Whalen

Member of the Scientific and Engineering Reasoning Area in the Systems and Practices Laboratory at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He works on the design and deployment of systems to support knowledge-sharing in work communities, the design and use of artificial intelligence applications in the workplace, and understanding the problems of "documents in action".

Arthur Zajonc

For the last 40 years Arthur Zajonc has worked at the intersection of modern physics, humanities and contemplative traditions. He began his studies at the University of Michigan, publishing in 1976 two articles: one concerning Goethe’s theory of color and the other a technical paper concerning the impact excitation of helium. Out of these diverse interests, he has built a body of work that includes research on the foundations of quantum physics; the relationship between science and the humanities; and the practice of contemplative education and inquiry.