Listening the New Into Being

From Collapse to Regeneration: 5 Micro Stories of Transformation That Are Shaping Tomorrow

Otto Scharmer
Field of the Future Blog
5 min readMay 11, 2024


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Even though we live in a time of collapse (of ecological, social, and human systems), I feel profoundly hopeful about the years and decades to come. The reason is that time and again, I am blown away by the amazing power of communities of change makers and leaders that create new spaces for healing and transformation, leaning together into emerging future possibilities that are in need of us to manifest. There is no limit to what we can collectively create once we align our intention, attention, and agency on the scale of the whole. Here are a few examples of such seeds of the future, that I come across in many places.

The first example is a four-day workshop called the Ecosystem Leadership Program (ELP) LatAm, with 270 participants from 17 Latin American countries in Chile last month. What an amazing constellation of change makers across all sectors and systems! It’s a three-year journey with four days in person per year, convening perhaps the most diverse group I have ever worked with over such an extended period. This includes indigenous elders from various wisdom traditions, organized around eight different ecosystemic focus areas, and already launching around 80 prototype initiatives to date. The deep activation of a heightened individual and collective presence and agency is palpable and stronger than I have ever seen. Everyone can feel the profound opening of a direct energetic gateway into the future — a future that remains in need of us to manifest, a future that is already HERE… but see for yourself: some pictures below.

The second example is EMERGE CHILE: a one-day workshop with 380 participants in Chile from across the entire political spectrum, all sectors, all systems, from various former ministers and current CEOs of companies to leaders and activists from academia, communities, and indigenous groups. Everyone came together to move beyond polarization to co-sense and explore the future that stands in need of us to manifest. Just about no one left during the nine-hour workshop. The picture shows the 380 folks doing systems mapping of 38 specific subsystems that they enact collectively around each of the tables. During the presencing practice, you could hear a pin drop — completely still.

I find this very remarkable because it tells us that in the face of our current environment of increased polarization, if you create a deeper, broader, more dialogic, and more transformative co-sensing-the-future-based space — the moment you do that, people come, show up with their best selves — and profoundly co-shape it.

It’s like “build it, and they will come…” There is almost no limit to what we could do together if we had such generative, enabling infrastructures across countries and systems across the globe. But DOING this is almost impossible to fund because most funders are not literate in understanding upstream (higher-order) interventions that work through shifting the quality of awareness and consciousness from ego to eco.

The third example is u-lab 2x: we just finished the 2024 cycle of u-lab 2x (a free online course) with 230 teams collaborating around transformative initiatives addressing the poly-crises facing our planet — essentially tipping our systems from poly-crisis to poly-regeneration and healing. What we learned across teams and places over the past few months is this: that to manifest our deeply held intention (across all these initiatives) we need to be comfortable with discomfort, we need to be able to lean into not-knowing (through deep sensing) as well as into not-doing (stillness) to allow something new to manifest….


Scribing by Olaf Baldini

The fourth example and source of inspiration is a current client project with a major business group in Europe. It’s a transformation journey towards Business as a Force for Good that includes the owners, the CEOs, and key executives of the Holding and all the all the various enterprises that belong to their group, as well as their philanthropic entities (foundations). Together, this whole group of leaders and executives goes through a process that focuses on building individual and collective leadership capacities for shifting mindsets from ego to eco. It’s truly inspiring to see how a different intention begins to reorient and refocus the power of business from more extractive to more regenerative practices, purposes, and investment portfolios…

Sunrise over Lake Constance, shot from the venue of these U journey workshops

The fifth example is our work with UNDP, the UN Secretary General’s Office, and various other UN agencies on reshaping the UN to better meet the moment of transformation while also building collective leadership capacities for doing so. All this is part of the UN 2.0 strategy leading up to the UN Summit of the Future later this year. Find here some other practical examples of our recent work helping UN Country Teams (UNCTs) and Humanitarian Crisis Teams (HCTs) in 30 countries to meet current crises situations while implementing the SDGs locally with partners across all societal systems and sectors.

Scribing by our colleague Kelvy Bird

These are small beginnings. But they are real. These stories happen all around us. But they don't have an amplification mechanism (like the story of destruction has with social media that knowingly undermine our democracies). More about that in a forthcoming book that I am currently working on (working title: Presencing — Seven Practices For Shifting Societies from Ego to Eco)…

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