Understanding collaborative change, listening and problem solving

Theory U is a complete process for innovative change. Andry has been learning about Theory U since 2015. Learning Journeys are just one of the Theory U tools.

What are Learning Journeys’ for?

Theory U ‘Learning Journeys’ encourage you to move out of your daily routine and allow you to observe more deeply and to experience a workplace, team or community challenge, or system through the lens of different.

What did our group do for their Learning Journey?

12 climate change and development specialists visited a local community. They interacted at a deep listening level, with some of the key stakeholders. Such as market stall holders, market managers, local shoppers, local economy activists, leaders of social enterprise support organisations, representatives of local businesses. These are all people working on real economic and community challenges.

Our aim was to deepen our understanding of resilience within the community – economic, personal and community resilience and to take away learning to inform global development work.

During the day, we observed, talked, listened, asked questions and reflected – all with guiding principles, informed by the techniques of Presencing Institute and the work on Thory U by Otto Scharmer. The group were led and supported by Andry and supported by Jane Clarke, international development specialist.

What was the learning from this one day?

Every person in the group had some insights from the day about how to bring about collaborative change:

Managing Change ‘Change evolves over time for the better, when more people and greater diversity of ideas are involved’. Using the Learning Journey technique to discover new ways to engage face to face with your staff, teams, policy-makers, investors or stakeholders can take you to a deeper level of understanding – beyond consultation – and stimulate new possibilities.

Listening and neutral observation” Sometimes we listen with an answer in mind… we don’t give space to listen and absorb”. An early response from the team was just how willing people were to engage with us if we give them the time and space. Participants on the Learning Journey day could see how a different way of engaging would give them an experience that was the polar opposite of this. By dropping assumptions and, cynicism, judgments about people, places and solutions you potentially could improve outcomes.

Reenergising others and ourselves at work: A clear message in participants’ comments were that this Learning Journey was an energising experience. If you are energised you are more inspired, connected, and engaged with your work and your career.. At its heart, the Learning journey process (as part of the tools and approaches from the Presencing Institute), also aims to support individuals to reconnect with their passion for work, career and life: ”The sign of a good course is how much I have been talking to other people about what I learnt …as it has changed the way I engage with people and probably what I do next. Result! Many many thanks.’

The Learning journey tool is part of a wider body of techniques and approaches (Theory U methodology and Presencing Institute tools and approaches) that can be used to help design and bring about collaborative change at many levels. This approach to can help to tackle tough and complex challenges in organisations, communities or even globally. You can use the tools and principles in many ways. For example when designing a team meeting, when starting a new piece of work with a new team, when working with a new or refreshing a familiar context, or when you are seeking new ideas.

• Thanks for kind support from Brixton Bid, Impact Brixton, Brixton Pound Café, Pop Brixton and Brixton Station Road Community Market.

Andry enjoys working with these innovative tools for change, systems change, collaboration, resilience, action learning and building and improving partnerships. If you would like to find out more about working with Andry and MIT’s U Theory tools and approaches, please contact: andry@thelearningmoment.org

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