The first answer is that we start by learning to see the pattern language of social reality creation that we collectively enact. The U is more than just a process. It is a non-linear field theory that works as a matrix or a field.
Social fields describe the social system that we collectively enact – in teams, in groups, organizations and social system – from the perspective of source.
There are 4 archetypes or qualities of social fields that exist on all levles of sysems – from micro to mundo.
The Horizontal Axis: System Levels:
The four columns of the matrix feature the actions of individuals, groups, organizations and system.
Social fields are enacted on all these levels through four primary forms of action:
- Attending (Micro)
- Conversing (Meso)
- Organizing ( Macro)
- Co-ordinating ( Mundo)
It is through these 4 activities that we as humans collectively create the reality we live in. As Joseph Beuys – late artist said – “These actions are how we create and live the global “Social Sculpture”.
The Vertical Axis: Levels of Consciousness
The vertical axis describes different states or qualities of our social reality. The vertical axis summarizes these qualities of listening by differentiating four field state of awareness:
Each state of awareness has certain characteristic patterns or fields.
- Field 1: HABITUAL: When individuals, groups or organizations operate with habitual field awareness, they interpret present situations based on their experiences and habits of the past. My action comes from inside my own boundaries(I-in-me). My reaction is triggered by external events and shaped by my habits of the past.
- Field 2: EGO – SYSTEM: When individuals or groups start to suspend past assumptions and seek to see things ‘as they are’, they enter a subject-object awareness in which they clearly differentiate between observer and observed. They begin to notice something new.
- Field 3: EMPATHIC – RELATION: When actors in a system redirect their attention from object to sources and engage in an empathic awareness, they sense reality from the view point of other stakeholders. They begin to see from a new perspective.
- Field 4: GENERATIVE – ECOSYSTEM : When actors let go of old identities, a new space of co-creative awareness opens up. Actions from such shared awareness have often been described as flow. They co-create from a future potential that wants to emerge.
4 Structures of Attention:
Field 1: HABITUAL: My action comes from inside my own boundaries(I-in-me). My reaction is triggered by external events and shaped by my habits of the past.
Field 2: EGO-SYSTEM: My action comes from the periphery of my system(I-in-it). It arises from a subject-object awareness that analyses and responds to exterior data.
Field 3: EMPATHIC-RELATIONAL: My action comes from beyond my boundaries ( I-in-you). It arises from the place that the other person, with whom I communicate, operates from.
Field 4: GENERATIVE ECOSYSTEM: My action comes from the sphere that surrounds my open boundaries(I-in-us/I-in-now). It arises form presencing a future potential.
Every social action emerges from one of these 4 sources or structures of attention: from inside, from the periphery, from outside, or from the surrounding sphere of a system.
When we look around us, most of the time we see that individuals, groups and organizations operate from the first two states i.e. Habitual or Ego-System. But great leaders, innovators and high performing teams tend to operate from the entire spectrum of social fields, moving across all four of them as needed by the situation they face.
This write up is based on Theory U by MIT Prof. Dr. Otto Scharmer.