U.LAB 2X – From Prototype to Impact

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u.lab 2x 2021
From Prototype to
Ecosystem Impact

An Accelerator for Systems


Our Post-Merger-Integration Approach

Bringing A New Post-Merger-Integration Approach Into Life


Our Team – to discover a new approach for
Post Merger Integration


Welcome to U.Lab

U.lab is an innovation platform designed for anyone who believes that changing the world is connected with changing your self.

We all live in a time of disruptive change, one that requires a new collective leadership capacity. In u.lab, we invite you on a journey to see the world in new ways and to practice a method that allows leaders, entire organizations, and larger social systems to connect with and actualize their highest future possibility.

We will introduce you to an approach to leading profound change called Theory U. This work has been developed by action researchers at MIT and practiced by leaders around the world for over 20 years.


Annual U.Lab Cycle

U.Lab: Leading From the Emerging Future was created by a team from the Presencing Institute, a network of practitioners who build social technologies and innovation infrastructures (such as this course) that enable people to connect (with each other and with their deeper selves), projects to take root and movements to amplify their impact.


U.Lab 2x PMI – Chronology (current first)

Dear Rainer,
What an incredible Global Forum 2021! Together we began to ask: “If 2020 was the beginning of the Decade of Transformation, what have I learned? Who am I going to BE as we step into the Decade of Transformation together?”
Over the course of our 48-hour event, over 700 people attended the Live Sessions, 4,000 audio garden tracks were downloaded, and countless insights emerged for our work in the coming weeks and months – individually and collectively. 

A few highlights:
Melanie Goodchild reminded us: “Decolonization is presencing what is absent.
Thomas Hubl reminded us: “Absencing is self-protection – the nature of trauma is being frozen.”
And Dr. Angel Acosta shared: “This is a Decade of Transformation but it is also a Century of Recovery.”

Ten Lessons from Covid for Stepping into the Decade of Transformation: It’s time to operate from a deep sense of purpose that transcends institutions, borders, and boundaries. As you step away from the Forum, read Otto Scharmer’s latest post in the Field of the Future Blog.

Thank you for being a part of this community and our global movement for societal transformation.
– The Presencing Institute



Dear Rainer,
Though May 27th marked the final Live Session of the u.lab 2x 2021 journey, we know many of your teams have adapted the process to your own pace, and are continuing to move through the course activities. Congratulations on your work thus far. The Sutra space will remain open indefinitely; please continue to use this to coordinate within your team or ask questions of the cohort.

Global Forum 2021 – June 15th-16th The Presencing Institute’s annual Global Forum is the culminating event of our academic year. After a demanding year on Zoom, the core of this event is a new kind of presencing experience: an invitation into nature for a self-guided audio journey, a personal experience of sensemaking that will complement your work in teams.

Again, congratulations on completing the course. We hope to see you in the coming weeks,
-the u.lab team


While u.lab 2x has come to an end, your team will continue to meet and evolve your prototype(s) through many iterations. At this point, there is often the temptation to move into ‚planning and execution‘ mode. However, from a Theory U perspective, the most important aspect of this work is to act from source. This means that as you continue to evolve your prototyp, it is important to do so in a way that supports our individual and collective capacity to ’shift the place from which we operate‘.

It may be useful to take a few minutes for journaling and sharing the reflections that emerge. We suggested some questions below:

  1. What are the most significant events, reflections or insights for you since we last met?
  2. What is most alive for you in this project right now?
  3. What do you feel called to ’stay with‘?
  4. Where do you feel you need to let go?
  5. What is your highest hope for this project?


So far in u.lab 2x, we have mapped the system and looked at it from different perspectives (3D mapping). We’ve extended our co-sensing out horizontally, including to the margins of the system (Stakeholder Interviews). We’ve stepped inside the current reality of our system and investigated how it wants to evolve from current reality to emerging future (4D mapping). At this stage, a core part of the U process is connecting with our deeper sources of knowing prior to moving into action.

The following questions will lead you to deeper insights about your personal emerging future:

  1. Where do you experience a world that is ending and dying? And in your response you can refer both to society, to your organizational context or to yourself.
  2. Where do you experience a world that is wanting to be born? In society, in your organizational context, in your personal context?
  3. Where have you experienced moments of disruption and what did you notice about your inner responce to these moments?
  4. Lastly, how do the ecological, the social-economic and the spiritual divides show up in your personal experience of work and life?


Dear Rainer,
Several hundred of us came together on Thursday for the Vertical Prototyping Clinic, a chance to prepare for the final part of the lab. In the Crystallizing and Prototyping module, you will bring together the learning from your 4D mapping and your sensing activities to crystallize and evolve your prototype idea, and then explore these ideas further through concrete action. 
You can watch the u.lab faculty’s framing of Vertical Prototyping in the session recording.


The closing event of this year’s u.lab 2x will be a chance for teams to present their final prototypes, even if in their most delicate early stages. We are inviting the GAIA community to join us in creating a holding space to nurture the seeds of these initiatives, and share generative feedback.

Thursday, May 27th, 9:00am & 12:00pm EDT (UTC -4)



Above, you will see the visual recording of our 4D Mapping workshop on Friday May 7th in Munich, Germany. According to our initiative „Bringing a new Post-Merger-Integration approach into life“, we discovered the current situation of a real post merger project in sculpture 1, the phase between and the emerging future situation in sculptur 2 to gain deeper insights and leverage points for changing the system towards a value based corporate culture, from ego to eco awareness.

Many thanks to all 14 participants of this learning journey. Rainer




Dear Rainer,
Thank you to the hundreds of participants who joined us in Thursday’s Live Session. Together, we sensed into what our teams’ work had revealed thus far, and explored how to adapt the practices of the Presencing module to the web.

Yesterday’s session opened with the u.lab stories that several teams had shared with the cohort. You can find that video, as well as several teams’ additional standalone stories. You’ll also find the recording of the full session here.

Below is Arawana Hayashi’s scribing of the idea of 4D Mapping.



A window into the u.lab 2x experience.


3D Mapping is a tool we use to bring multiple dimensions and perspectives to see and understand the elements of the system together (co-sensing). During the modeling process, the entire team will create one 3D Map of the current reality and of the future that you are trying to create.

Map of the emerging future that we want to bring into the world:


2D Map – Post Merger Integration – future reality we want to create


Dear Rainer
Today’s u.lab 2x – Live Session 2: Co-Sensing was a chance to sit with many of you, and hear voices from across the cohort on teams‘ challenges and opportunities so far. If you weren’t able to join us, you’ll find the recording of the session here: video

Olaf Baldini’s generative scribing of the session



U.Lab 2x PMI Team – Core Team, Extended Team, Associated and Informed Persons



Dear Rainer,
What lessons are beginning to unfold at this stage in your team’s journey, and where are you headed? To help this cohort community see and sense itself, this week we will host our first storytelling and story gathering session. We will focus on four questions:
What energy is driving your team?
What has surprised you?
What has been challenging?
What is your greatest learning?

If you weren’t able to attend the storytelling session but would like to share your experiences by sending in a short video. If you’d like to check it out, Stefan made a short 5min video about some suggestions for best video recording that you can find here: video

Story Harvest I  find here: video




Co-Initiating Life Zoom Session

Co-Initiation Live Session – Video Recording

Here are the unedited recordings from today’s call (the same, in both gallery and speaker views).

Please enjoy the video, alone or in a watch-party with your team



Dear Rainer,
The course platform on Sutra has been busy since last week as teams have registered, created their Team Space, and joined in the conversation!
We’re excited to meet you this Thursday, February 18th for our first Live Session. This week, the session will run from 9:00am – 10:45am EST (UTC -5).
You’ll get a chance to reach across project groups to meet other members of the u.lab 2x cohort.



U.Lab 2x is organized into four 4-week practice modules. Each module focuses on a particular tool that forms the basis for a workshop or practice. It is the role of the Core Team to review the material, prepare the monthly workshop/activity, and facilitate the process for the Core and Extended Teams.

The starting point of the U process is Co-Initiating. The essence of Co-Initiating is to convene a constellation of players that need one another to take action and to move forward. You need the right folks at the right time and in thr right place. The opposite of Co-Initiating is marketing: getting to „buy in“ to your idea.


A short introdution in Theory U



Dear Rainer,
We’re launched! Today, you should have received an invitation to join the u.lab 2x 2021 space on the Sutra platform. There, you’ll find the course materials, links to upcoming live sessions, and discussion boards to engage in dialogue with the rest of the cohort.



Dear Rainer,
Thank you for joining us for u.lab 2x. After careful review, we have selected a cohort of 380 teams that will be part of this collective journey. We can’t wait to learn more about your projects and to work together to support the co-evolution of your prototypes and initiatives for ecosystem impact.

Part of the Presencing Institute’s mission is to offer a new narrative for profound evolutionary change in society. For two decades, our work has explored questions such as: what does it take to redesign societies in ways that ad-dress the pressing challenges of our time? What does it take to apply the power of mindfulness to the trans-formation of the collective system? Leading from the Emerging Future and The Essentials of Theory U out-line a framework for updating the “operating systems” of our educational institutions, our economies, and our democracies, applying the core concepts of Theory U to the transformation of society at large.

We believe true leadership today is the capacity to facilitate a shift of mindset in multi-stakeholder groups from a narrow understanding based on self-interest (ego-systemic) to one where decisions are made based on the wellbeing of the whole system (eco-systemic). We call this capacity Eco-System Leadership. This Systems Transformation Accelerator aims to build this type of leadership capacity at scale, across multiple sectors and geographies. Ultimately, the aim of u.lab 2x is to activate a global ecosystem of innovation that works to ensure wellbeing for all.

One important distinction to note up front is the relationship between core teams and extended teams

That’s you! The group of participants who took the ini-tiative to apply to u.lab 2x. This group will learn various Theory U-based methods and apply them locally or in a shared context to the issue / challenge / prototype you are bringing to u.lab 2x. You’re responsible for holding space and facilitating the process for the extended team.

This is an extended group of stakeholders in your project / initiative, who will participate in the the u.lab 2x process with your core team. You should begin reaching out to these stakeholders now. Between your core and extended teams, you should aim to have a minimum of 7-10 people participating in u.lab 2x together. To elaborate on why we have this requirement: the u.lab 2x methods are designed to create a shared language and understanding of the intellectual and emotional complexity in stakeholder relationships. Because they are multi-stakeholder transformation methods, they typically require a minimum of about 7-10 participants to be together in person. Therefore, core teams are asked to convene an extended team of stakeholders who will participate in some (or if they wish, all) of the u.lab 2x journey.



Dear Rainer,
We’re writing with good news! We’ve reviewed your application to u.lab 2x and were impressed by the work you’re doing. We feel your team would make a great addition to the Lab, and are excited to invite you to participate. 

u.lab 2x will kick off in February 2021.

Planning Ahead

The u.lab 2x materials and community will be hosted on the Sutra platform. We will share the syllabus and onboard you to the platform in January. Each month’s module will give you access to materials to digest and methodologies to practice as a Core Team. On your own schedule, you will lead your Extended Team through the process. The u.lab team will hold joint Zoom sessions at four points during the course, on the dates below (please mark these in your calendar):  
Co-Initiating: February 18th
Co-Sensing: March 18th
Presencing: April 15th
Prototyping: May 13th

Core Team members can expect to commit 4-5 hours per week toward u.lab 2x, varying across months. Weeks in which teams are applying methodologies will require more time, while others will require less. Extended Team members can expect up to 2-3 hours per week.


U.Lab – Overview / Approach

The year 2020 has clarified that we cannot solve our most pressing challenges by doing more of the same. The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis make us acutely aware of our profound interdependence. Each breakdown or collapse in this decade is a potential turning point to redirect our evolutionary pathway going forward. Many of us feel that our systems have been moving in the wrong direction and want to be part of a change but don’t know how. We experience a disconnect between our shared awareness and our collective capacity to act. 

Building transformation literacy—that is, the capacity to transform the status quo—at all levels of scale may well be the number one leadership challenge of our time.

u.lab 2x is an ecosystem transformation accelerator that helps teams to move their prototype ideas toward ecosystem impact. It is designed to help teams, organizations, and larger networks to activate co-creative relationships in their stakeholder systems.

Participating teams whose work relates to one of the key acupuncture points for societal transformation will join a four-month, online and offline innovation journey that includes systems mapping, rapid cycle prototyping, and a global action research network for knowledge sharing. By the end of the journey, participants will have created new collaborative initiatives, or new types of collaboration within existing initiatives, that help to bring about more sustainable and equitable social systems worldwide. Teams will be supported to bring these initiatives into the world by working together from a place of 4.0 listening, attending, and organizing.

How it Works

The Presencing Institute focuses its work for the transformation of economy and society on seven key acupuncture points (below) that, if transformed through rapid-cycle prototyping and by co-evolving solutions that work at scale, could amplify the transformation of civil society globally. 

Acupuncture points for societal transformation

Accordingly, in early 2021, u.lab 2x will convene place-based teams from around the world that are working toward solutions in one of these seven areas for a four-month, multi-local, online and offline innovation journey. u.lab 2x will help these teams:

  • Understand the deeper forces at play in social systems that can either be obstacles or leverage points for change;
  • Identify emerging future possibilities in your work;
  • Prototype new ways of working together in multi-stakeholder settings;
  • Evolve your project or initiative.

u.lab 2x is part of the Presencing Institute’s u.school for transformation annual cycle. Ultimately, the Lab aims to activate and amplify a locally anchored, globally connected network of hundreds (and over time thousands) of cross-sector change initiatives that are working to build new economic infrastructures that generate well-being for all.

Please check the u.lab website for more information about the u.lab 2x

The Importance of Learning from the Emerging Future

In this video, you will meet course instructor Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who will share with you his background and an example that illustrates the importance of the u.lab’s main theme: learning how to sense and actualize emerging future possibilities rather than reacting to (and perpetuating) patterns of the past.

The 21st Century University

Higher education today is going through a moment of disruption. Institutions of higher education have a product that is overpriced, out of touch with real societal needs and outdated in terms of learning methodologies. One of the reasons we offer u.lab is to chart a different course. 

Turning the camera around

Leading from the emerging future

Meeting the challenges of this century requires updating our economic logic and operating system from an „ego-system“ focused entirely on the well-being of oneself to an eco-system awareness that emphasizes the well-being of the whole. The shift to an eco-system economy is emerging everywhere around us. The inner shift, from fighting the old to sensing and presencing an emerging future possibility, is at the core of all deep leadership work today. It’s a shift that requires us to expand our thinking the head to the heart.

Introduction to Theory U

On the deep learning cycle of Theory U, the three movements, and the blindspot of leadership.

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