Meeting vs. learning


What is a meeting for, but to know and understand things differently? What if the objective of every meeting you entered, at work, with your kid’s teacher, with a client or your doctor, was for you, and the other(s) to learn something new?

In Leading from the Emerging Future, authors Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer offer 4 levels of structure/awareness to describe how our social relationships are evolving. The power of what they offer is in the articulation of these levels, allowing us to see them more clearly so we notice more easily what we are growing out of, and what we are growing into. (For a recap of how I have made meaning of the book, see the links below.) The real power of what they offer is the difference between meeting and learning with others.

A meeting is information exchange. It may or may not mean things change as a result. It does not compel those involved to feel connected to the work, or themselves. Reading between the lines, here is what Scharmer and Kaufer offer as characteristics of habitat that support and sustain learning:

  1. You are in charge of what you learn. You are in the driver’s seat. 
  2. You dive into what inspires you. You immerse yourself in learning journeys that allow you to feel, empathize and connect with multiple perspectives.
  3. You spend time with peers, deeply listening to each other. This allows deep learning to occur.
  4. You learn at many scales. You are connected to self, as well as others at many scales, from your family, work unit or neighbourhood, to your city and the planet.
  5. You work to be aware. As an individual, and as the groups you are a part of, you seek to notice and be aware of your context, and what it is asking of you.
  6. You experiment and prototype. You collaborate with your self, your context and others to try out solutions to the challenges you face. This is part of your learning relationship with the world around you, and it needs energy and attention.
  7. You are on a lifelong journey. You recognize that you are on a journey to awaken, activate and strengthen your capacity to be you.
  8. You need a place to practice. To do the above, you need safe places to try things out, try things on for size, or simply be YOU for a time.

Imagine meetings where you are able to offer who you really are. Where you learn about yourself and your relationship to the work at hand. Where you are able to be honest to others, and true to yourself. Where as groups we undertake the learning that needs to be undertaken to improve our collective work.

This only works when we each take on the responsibility of seeking to know and understand things differently.

What steps do you take to know and understand your world differently?


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Some friends and I started a book club to explore Leading from the Emerging Future, Otto Scharmer (Theory U) and Katrin Kaufer’s new book. This is another piece, on Chapter 8. Here’s what came from my exploration of earlier chapters:

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This post is a wee bit  of the book I am working on, while I am working on it. Here are some plot helpers of Nest City – The Human Drive to Thrive in Cities:

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