Columns, articles and blogs around Zappos and Frederic Laloux’s ‘Reinventing Organizations: an example of ‘Groupthink’?


A couple of months ago we – Charlie’s Eagles – were discussing Frederic Laloux’s book ‘Reinventing organization’ and the stories of Jean-François Zobrist (ex-CEO of FAVI) and Jan de Blok (CEO of BUURTZORG). I had read that book in February (see my Storify: and to me the hidden secret of the ‘flat’ organizations FAVI (France) and BUURTZORG (Netherlands) is Creative Interchange.

Charlie’s Eagles is a group of people that gather every fortnight, using ooVoo, to discuss Creative Interchange: the process, its conditions, skills and behaviors. The name of our group is derived from the Christian name of Charlie Palmgren (through whom all the members got in contact with Creative Interchange) and from Charlie books: ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’ , who starts with Anthony de Mello’s story known as ‘The Golden Eagle’ while asking the question “Are you a Chicken or an Eagle?”, and ‘The Ascent of the Eagle’. So we are still ‘learning to Fly’ and ain’t Angels.

During that discussion, Carol Lishhalk, a member of our talk group, draw our attention to an article of Quest relating the memo of Mr. Tony Hsieh of Zappos:  Charlie Palmgren will discuss in an upcoming column on our sister column website what he thinks about this memo in the light of Creative Interchange.

From that day on I’ve read a series of columns, essays and blogs treating Zappos and Frederic Laloux’s book . In this column I want to focus on the critical notes in those articles regarding ‘Reinventing Organizations’.

Since I follow Dan Pontafract (@DanPontafract) on Twitter I read his article the day after he published it: As being said I’ll focus on Fred Laloux’s book in this column. Dan Pontafract: “Personally, I found the book to be reverse engineered. Dave Snowden went further, and referred to it as, “the most trivial management book I had read in a long time.” I immediately read Mr. Dave Snowden’s blog and was intrigued by his wordings, and since I did not know him, I sent following Tweet to Dan Pontefract :


To my surprise it was not Dan Pontafract who replied but Mr. Dave Snowden:


You can read the rest of our conversation on Twitter. What I learned from the Twitter discussion I had with Mr. Dave Snowden is that a) he effectively read Laloux’s book in one hour – it took me eight hours, so I have still a lot of progress to make. BTW Mr. Dave Snowden gave folowing clear explanation why the book could be read in one hour:


and b) the underlying cause for his negative appreciation of the book :  “I (Dave Snowden) have an allergic reaction to anything endorsed by the exemplar of cult leaders Ken Wilber, and something approaching pity for people who seek his endorsement, as the book in question does.”

This month I saw a lot of other articles around the Zeppos ‘ongoing’ story; like the interesting “Making Sense of Zappos’ War on Managers” of Gianpiero Pietroglieri: . He just mentions the Hsieh memo asking Zappos employees reading Frederic Laloux’s book . It was yet another article that gave me the idea of the title of this column: . Let me quote Mr. Tim Kastelle: “First off, like Dave Snowden and Dan Pontefract, I am skeptical of the book being used to frame the change – it’s not well-supported by data, and it’s pretty fuzzy.”  This time, as you can see, I did not sent a tweet to Mr. Tim Kastelle; I wrote a comment on his blogsite instead.

So my question is: “Are Dave Snowden, Dan Pontefract and Tim Kastelle victim of ‘Groupthink’?”  If yes, be reassured, the consequences of this case of Groupthink will not be as dramatic as in the case of Challenger ( ). Nevertheless, since a couple of days, a Dutch saying is lingering in my head. Translated in English it ‘sounds’ like this: “Are those gentlemen not throwing the baby out with the bathwater?” They all seem to see Fred Laloux’s book only as a book about Holacracy, a manager-less system to support self-management and self-organization. And, more surprisingly, they all seem to disregard the cases of FAVI and BUURTZORG, who have nothing to do with Ken Wilber nor Holacracy. Those cases are rather well documented and prove to me, far more than Zappos, the Force of Creative Interchange! To come to that conclusion, I not only read Fred Laloux’s book, I saw numerous key note talks and read articles of as well Jean-François Zobrist as Jos de Blok.



Creative Interchange: The Hidden Secret Behind Theory U

I met C. Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U[i], in Atlanta during the Systems Thinking in Action® Conference 1999 : “Learning Communities: Meeting the Challenges of a Global Enterprise”. This was the second System Thinking in Action® Conference I attended during the last decade of the 20th century. I was there to learn more about the Learning Organization because I thought that this movement could help me to spread Creative Interchange. Peter M. Senge, the guru of the Learning Organization, was, as always, the opening Key Note speaker at that conference. I spoke with Peter M. Senge the day before the conference (we met each other when I was picking up my conference badge). During our brief talk I gave Peter a copy of Charlie Palmgren and Stacie Hagan’s book ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’[ii], because of the similarities in his work and that of Charlie Palmgren, my third father. Since Otto was a colleague of Peter at MIT, I decided to attend the session Otto was conducting the second day of the conference. It was during Otto Scharmer’s session “A Practice Model for Leading Transformational Change” that Otto introduced one of his first versions of the U model, which he called then ‘The Process of Deep Cognizing’ (© Jaworski, Scharmer). That afternoon I saw immediately the deep connection between his U model and Creative Interchange and I informed him of my point of view (to my surprise I later found out that this brief conversation was even recorded on tape – i.e. Tape F01 – Systems Thinking In Action® Conference 1999).

So, since that Thursday afternoon, November 4th, 1999 I am convinced that Creative Interchange is the Hidden Secret and Force behind Otto Scharmer’s U model. Ten years later, Otto published his Theory U whilst I found myself in the midst of a massive depression. The moment I was fully recovered I restarted writing my book ‘Crucial dialogues, the daily application of Creative Interchange’[iii] on which I was working when I got ill. The year after I published this book another fight had to be fought (colon cancer). Those are the reasons it took me till this early spring to read Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.

In this column I will – in order to ‘prove’ the title of it – quote bits of Theory U directly followed by my interpretation, my paraphrasing if you will, from my Creative Interchange mindset. So let’s start!

Peter M. Senge sets the tone in the first lines of his Foreword : “Understanding the Creative [Interchange] Process is the foundation of genuine masters in all fields” (Theory U Foreword page xi) and Peter Senge continues: “Otto Scharmer suggests that the key for addressing the crises of our time lies in learning to access this source of mastery collectively.” This confirms my thinking: ‘In order to address the crises of our time we’d better learn to access Creative Interchange collectively through, for instance, having successful Crucial Dialogues.’

When reading Peter Senge’s phrase: “We see problems, then download our mental models to both define the problems and to come up with solutions” (Theory U Foreword page xiv) my Crucial Dialogue Model (based on Creative Interchange) sprung up in my mind (Figure 1):



Figure 1

‘Define the problem” is the left part and ‘come up with solutions’ the right part of the Crucial Dialogue or ‘butterfly’ model.

“Otto Scharmer identifies three levels of deeper awareness and the related dynamics of change. ‘Seeing our Seeing’, so to speak, requires the intelligences of the open mind, the open heart and open will.” (Theory U Foreword page xiv) Paraphrased in CI language: ‘Seeing our seeing’, which is Process Awareness, requires the intelligences of the Open Mind (Left hand side Butterfly), Open Heart (Butterfly body) and Open Will (Right hand side Butterfly):

  1. Seeing with an open mind IS ‘Awareness’ (non-colored or naked consciousness) that is able to change our Mental models, i.e. our (colored) consciousness;
  2. Seeing with an open heart is seeing beyond the mind (feeling – butterfly body): this is also seeing one’s own part in maintaining the old and in denying the new;
  3. Seeing with an open will unlocks our deeper levels of commitment to which we ‘surrender’ in order to imagine what is needed, although the ‘what’ may be far from clear;
  4. The ‘how’ of the transformation is the ‘easiest’ part: transform corresponds with living Creative Interchange from the inside out. Creative Interchange is the meta process of all transformation, the process with which we all are born;
  5. The Creative Interchange Process being the foundation of my Crucial Dialogue Model.

We paraphrase what Scharmer calls “learning from the future as it emerges” (Theory U Foreword page xvi) as ‘learning the Creative Interchange way!’

“The leadership comes from all levels, not only from the ‘the top’, because significant innovation is about doing things differently, not just talking about new ideas.” (Theory U Foreword page xvi) This Theory U Leadership arises from people and groups who are truly living Creative Interchange (CI), hence my mantra: “The [Creative Interchange] Process IS the Leader”.

I second wholeheartedly Peter Senge’s warning: “New tools and techniques applied within the same mental models and ways of operating are not likely to produce much real change.” (Theory U Foreword page xviii). Indeed, Crucial Dialogue skills and techniques applied from within the same old mindset and ways of doing are not likely to produce real transformation. In this reality resides a problem, people have to adopt a Creative Interchange mindset first!

“When a shift in quality of thinking, conversing and collective action happens people can connect with a deeper source of creativity and knowing and move beyond the patterns of the past. They step into their real power, the power of their authentic self. I call this change a shift in the social field.” (Theory U  p. 4) In CI language the authentic self is the Original (or Creative) Self. The shift in the Social Field being a Paradigm shift towards the Creative Interchange Culture.

“When a group succeeds in operating in this zone once, it is easier to do it a second time. It is as if an unseen, but permanent, communal connection or bond has been created. It tends to stay on even when new members are added in the group” (Theory U p. 4) Let me paraphrase: When a group lives successfully Creative Interchange an unseen, but permanent communal bond is created (i.e. a Culture – the CI culture) who stays on even when new members are added.

“The third position of the advocates of individual and collective transformational change looks for a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility – and to begin to operate from that place.” (Theory U, page 5) To me ‘this way’ IS Creative Interchange. Living Creative Interchange from the inside out will bring forth that highest possible future.

“Incidentally, when I use the word ‘leader’, I refer to all people who engage in creating change or shaping their future, regardless their formal positions in institutional structures.” (Theory U p. 5) Those people engage in Creative Interchange from the inside out, remember ‘The CI  Process IS the Leader.’

Otto Scharmer’s Blind Spot or his question “What sources are leaders actually operating from?” (Theory U p. 7) has in our frame of reference as answer: “They are operating from their Original (Creative) Self.” Indeed, the leaders of transformational change operate form their Creative Self using the Creative Good (i.e. Creative Interchange) to produce the created good.

In fact one can see the Blind Spot of Otto Scharmer as Simon Sinek’s WHY; this why being the source from which the actions originate (Theory U p. 7).

“My journey began with the recognition that I am not just one self but two selves. One self is connected to the past and the second self, connects to who I could become in the future.” (Theory U p. 25) In Creative Interchange language the self, connected to the past, is the ‘created self’ and the self, connected to who we could become in the future, is the ‘Creative Self’. The concepts, Creative Self and created self, are at the heart of the work of Henry Nelson Wieman and my third father Charlie Palmgren.

The five movements of the U Process (Theory U, page 19) seen as five movements of Creative Interchange. Hereby I use, once again, the Crucial Dialogue Model (figure 2):

figuur 1

Figure 2

Presencing is seeing from our deepest source. That is, sensing and operating one’s highest future potential.” (Theory U p. 29) Paraphrased in CI language: ‘Presencing is seeing from one’s Intrinsic Worth (see for an explanation of this concept ‘The Chicken Conspiracy’).’

The three movements of the U Process (Theory U, page 33) seen as three movements of the Crucial Dialogue Model (figure 3):

figuur 2

Figure 3

Most people know this because we are all born with Creative Interchange (CI) but we learn a second reality. Indeed, very soon in our life we learn the blocking process – i.e. the Vicious Circle (VC) -, who keeps us locked in the old downloading mode. In Charlie’s already mentioned ‘Chicken Conspiracy’ you find a powerful description of this blocking process. In other words, if we are locked in our downloading ‘created self’ (by the VC), we ‘kill’ in fact our ‘Creative Self’ (cf. CI). So, when we cling to our ‘created good’ we’re downloading and stop living from our ‘Creative Good’. On the other hand, if we live fully Creative Interchange, we slow down our Vicious Circle and reconnect with our Intrinsic Worth. My daughter Daphne learned me years ago to see those two processes as ‘spinning raders’ (figure 4):


Figure 4

“The Complete U with its inflection points” (Theory U p. 38) can be seen as a complete Lemniscate (Figure 5):

figuur 3

Figure 5

“Three Instruments of the Theory U” (Theory U, page 40) seen from the Crucial Dialogue Mindset (figure 6):

figuur 4

Figure 6

“The most important Leadership tool is Your Self” (Theory U p. 41) We see this as a ‘crucial’ dialogue between the Creative Self and the created self. This makes me, once again, think of one of my favorite sayings: “The [Creative Interchange] Process IS the Leader”.

The Leaders Self is pictured in the Crucial Dialogue Model – which is, once again, totally based on CI – as the body of the ‘butterfly’ (see figure 1).

“The U is [as Creative Interchange] a living field theory – not a linear Mechanical Process.” (Theory U p. 43)

“You dance all three movements of the U simultaneously, not sequentially.” “You could think of the U as holographic theory: each component reflects the whole.” (Theory U p. 44) As the U, Creative Interchange (cf The Crucial Dialogue Model) is – as the figure 8 suggests – endless and indeed, each characteristic reflects the whole.

“The Cycle of Presencing and the Cycle of Absencing relate to each other, both are aspects of a single evolutionary movement” (Theory U p.45). Our paraphrase is straight forward: the Cycle of Presencing IS the Creative Interchange (CI) Process and the Cycle of Absencing IS the Vicious Circle Process.

“We can switch from one space (the space of collective creativity) to the other (the space of collective destruction) in an instant and almost any time and anywhere, and our noticing this switch depends on how  awake we are to one another.” (Theory U p. 44) Our paraphrasing: those two forces (CI & VC) relate to each other, they are both aspects of a single reality. Indeed, one can switch from Creative Interchange to the Vicious Circle in an instant and about anytime and anywhere. Our noticing this switch depends on our Process Awareness (CI skill #16) capability. The CI skills are presented in green in ‘the outer wings’ (figure 1)

“The nature of successful managing and organizing has to do with seeing, appreciating and integrating a diverse range of perspectives.” (Theory U p.67) This corresponds with Henry Nelson Wieman’s description of Creative Interchange: ‘Creative Interchange has two aspects which are two sides of the same thing. One aspect is the [appreciative] understanding in some measure of the original experience of the other person. The other aspect is the integration of what one gets form others in such a way as to create progressively the original experience which is oneself.’ (Man’s Ultimate Commitment[iv] p. 22)

“Real knowledge, argue Ikujiro Nonake and Hirotaka Takeuchi in their groundbreaking book, The Knowledge-Creating Company[v], is a ‘situational living process that evolves in a spiraling movement between explicit and tacit dimensions of knowledge held by individuals, teams and organizations.’” (Theory U p. 70). Knowledge is a living Process, the Creative Interchange Process, endless as its model and it cannot be controlled from the outside in.

“Instead of managing or controlling knowledge, Nonaka says, we need to create conditions that will allow all three aspects of knowledge management to emerge…” (Theory U p. 70) Indeed, we need to create the conditions that will allow Creative Interchange to thrive from the inside out. Under those conditions Creative Interchange will create self-transcending, tacit AND explicit knowledge. Those conditions are presented (in red) in ‘the inner wings’ of the butterfly (figure 1).

“While management is about getting things done, leadership is about creating and cultivating the larger context – the fertile ground and soil – in which things can happen.” (Theory U p. 73). Couldn’t agree more: Leadership is creating and cultivating the fertile ground and soil for Creative Interchange, through which things will happen.

“We now find ourselves in a third phase, which is concerned with creating the conditions that inspire people and collective entities to operate from a ‘different place’.” (Theory U p.74). We live in the Leadership era where conditions are created that inspire people and teams to live Creative Interchange operating from their WHY.

“Again and again we are thrown into situations where we have to reinvent our professional, personal and relationships lives – redefining who we are and where we want to go.” (Theory U p. 87). I totally agree, and would like to add: Starting from our WHY and living Creative Interchange from the inside out!

“We exist in a constant creation and recreation of the self, often in ways that reflect our creativity. Spirituality can be defined as the source of our creativity.” (Theory U p. 90). Henry Nelson Wieman and Charlie Palmgren could not have said it better talking about the Creative Self and its Intrinsic Worth.

“At its essence, dialogue involves a collective shift of attention from politeness to conflict, from conflict to inquiry, and from inquiry to generative flow.” (Theory U p. 91). To me, flow is another word for Creative Interchange and it should not be a surprise that ‘my’ Crucial Dialogue model is totally based on Creative Interchange.

“I find following root questions alive in the hearts and minds of people across various cultures and civilizations:

  1. How can we create a more equitable global economy that would serve the needs of all, including today’s have-nots and the future generations?
  2. How can we deepen democracy and evolve our political institutions so that all people can increasingly directly participate in the decision-making processes that shape their context and future?
  3. How can we renew our culture so that every human being is considered a carrier of a sacred project – the journey of becoming one’s authentic self?”

(Theory U p. 95). IMHO those three ‘How can we?” questions have one answer: through creating the conditions for and living of Creative Interchange.

“We are on a journey of becoming who we really are…” (Theory U p. 96). Indeed, we are on a journey of becoming who we really are: our Original, Authentic, Creative Self.

“But we are at a stage now where we can begin to understand that our awareness and our consciousness determine the qualities of our actions and results.” (Theory U p.97) No problem to see the Hidden Secret of Theory U here (figure 7):

figuur 5

Figure 7

“Separation of self from Self – self-Self = connecting the current with the best future Self (Presencing).” (Theory U p. 99) According the Creative Interchange (CI) philosophy: the (Creative) Self is the source of the continuous improvement of the (created) self. In other words: (CI)²= Continuous Improvement through Creative Interchange!

“What is new here is how all of this is interlinked and grounded in the emerging arena of sources and self.” (Theory U p. 100). This is not at all new to us. All is interlinked and grounded in the emerging arena of sources and self, i.e. the body of the butterfly (figure 1).

“Finally, investigating the spiritual question at this deeper level leads to perhaps the most significant clash; the clash between the self and the Self. It is the clash between one’s old self, the person one has always been, and one’s emerging higher Self, the Self that embodies one’s highest future possibility … On one side of that clash are all of one’s accumulated accomplishments and ego forces, good and bad. On the other side is a source of possibility that, in order to come into presence, to be activated, requires one to let go of the old and open up to the now. The Living connection between these two selves – self and Self – in the now is what I refer to as Presencing.” Here Otto Scharmer finds himself on the ‘battle’ field of Henry Nelson Wieman, who was, after all, a religious philosopher. So to me it is crystal clear that Creative Interchange is the Hidden Secret behind his Theory U.  To Wieman the spiritual question at a deeper level leads to the clash between the created self (old self to Scharmer) and the Creative Self (Self to Scharmer). The living connection between those two in the now is Creative Interchange (Otto Scharmer’s Presencing).

“What would be the mapping of the battlefield look like if it were mapped from the perspective of the evolving self in the midst of battle on that field?” (Theory U p.103). Our answer: ‘It would look like the Crucial Dialogue Model!’. The middle of that model, the body of the butterfly, is indeed the evolving self-Self.

“Our blind spot, from a person to people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities.” (Theory U p. 103-104) Our paraphrase: ‘Not knowing our blind spot (cf our Personal WHY – Start with Why, Simon Sinek) keeps us from seeing that we have direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment (cf our Original, Authentic, Creative Self – Man’s Ultimate Commitment, Henry Nelson Wieman).

“Argyris’s criterion for action research is: that real knowledge enables you to create the reality it talks about. To discover this type of knowledge, we must trust our own senses, experiences and insights – without having a clue as to where that journey will lead next.” (Theory U p. 104) Trusting one’s own senses, experiences and insights corresponds with the left side of our Crucial Dialogue Model, whilst without having a clue to where that journey will lead corresponds with the right side. By definition you can’t control where your journey will lead living Creative Interchange from the inside out, that’s why you have to trust the Creative Interchange process. In other words we must have successful ‘Crucial dialogues’ based on Creative Interchange with ourselves and within our communities.

“When operating from the place of downloading we are captured in our world like prisoner in a cell; there is no way out. We see only the mental constructs that we project onto the world.” (Theory U p. 121). Stephen Covey said “We think we see the world as it is; in fact we see it as we are.” We see it as our pair of glasses allow us to see it. Those glasses are our mental model. We observe (phase 1 of the Crucial Dialogue model) through our lenses (phase 2 of the Crucial Dialogue model) (figure 8):

figuur 7

Figure 8

 “Four learning barriers keep the system locked into the mode of downloading:

  1. Not seeing what you do (decoupling perception and action)
  2. Not recognizing what you see (decoupling perception and thought)
  3. Not saying what you think (decoupling thinking and talking)
  4. Not doing what you say (decoupling talking and ‘walking’).”

(Theory U p. 126)

Our interpretation of those four barriers (figure 9):

figuur 8

Figure 9

“Three distinct principles can help us move from downloading to actually seeing. They are: (1) clarify question and intent, (2) move into context that matters, and (3) suspend judgment and connect to wonder.” (Theory U p. 131) Moving from consciousness (downloading) to awareness (actually seeing) through: (1) clarifying the crucial question and intent (the middle of the Crucial Dialogue model; (2) stick to facts that matters (phase 1 of model), and (3) suspend judgment and connect to curiosity (phase 2 of the model).

“But it is only in the suspension of judgment that we can open ourselves up to wonder. Wonder about noticing that there is a world beyond our patterns of downloading. Wonder can be thought of as the seed from which the U process grows. Without the capacity for wonder, we will most likely remain stuck in the prison of our mental constructs.” (Theory U p. 133-134) It is only in the suspension of judgment that we can open up our curiosity. Curiosity about noticing that there is a world beyond our personal mindset. Curiosity can be thought of as the seed from which the Creative Interchange process grows. Without curiosity regarding the mental model of others we will most likely remain stuck in the prison of our own. Curiosity is one of the basic conditions of phase 2 of model (figure 1).

“In classes Schein always emphasized that the most important principle of managing change is to “always deal with reality’, that is, start by seeing what is actually going on. Our challenge is to find a way to cultivate and enhance the collective capacity of seeing.” (Theory U p. 134-135) Dealing with reality is seeing that reality from different perspectives, using all available lenses and using the tools of the Crucial Dialogue model: asking the crucial question regarding the reality, using alternatively advocacy and inquiry, correctly using nonverbal communication and confirmed paraphrasing, asking questions, finding ‘plusses’, integrating differences and finally daring to question the used mental models. The use of these Crucial Dialogue skills (figure 1) will cultivate and enhance the collective capacity of seeing.

“The primary job of leadership is to enhance the individual and systematic capacity to see, to deeply attend to the reality that people face and enact. Thus the leader’s real work is to help people discover the power of seeing and seeing together.” (Theory U p. 136) The primary job of leadership, the leader’s real work is to help people discover the power of Creative Interchange in providing the conditions necessary and having the appropriate behavior, displaying the Creative Interchange skills.

“The boundaries between three types of presence collapse: the presence of the past (current field), the presence of the future (the emerging field of the future), and the presence of one’s authentic Self.” (Theory U p. 165) In Creative Interchange language those three types of presence are; (1) the actual created self, (2) the future created self and (3) the Original or Creative Self.

“In summary, each of us is not one but two. On the one hand, we are the person that we have become on our journey from the past to the present – the current self. On the other, there is the other, the dormant self, the one that is waiting within us to be born, to be brought into existence, to come into reality through our journey ahead. Presencing is the process of connecting these two selves. To connect our current with our authentic self. To move toward our real self from the future.” (Theory U p. 189). Indeed, it is also our view that each of us not one but two. Although our vision is slightly different: the current and the dormant self are two stages of the created self. Thus, on the one hand, we are the current, created self. On the other hand we are the Creative Self, who improves the created continuously, the real meaning of continuous improvement so to speak. Seen from this point of view, Presencing IS the Creative Interchange process. If we identify with the current, created self in such a way that we stop the Creative Interchange process, we kill so to speak the Creative Self. As I’ve said before, one of our mantra’s is: (CI)²= Continuous Improvement through Creative Interchange!

“Operationally that means that the defining feature of entering the field of presencing is the absence of manipulation and manipulative practices.” (Theory U p. 189) Indeed, Creative Interchange cannot be manipulated; manipulation and manipulative practices are the field of the Vicious Circle. As being said, the Vicious Circle slows down Creative Interchange. In his book ‘Man’s Ultimate commitment’ Henry Nelson Wieman offers following marvelous metaphor:

“Man is made for creative transformation as a bird is made for flight. To be sure he is in a cage much of the time. The bars of the cage are the resistances to creative transformation which are present in himself and in the world round about. Also, like most birds when long confined, he settles down in time and loses both the desire and the ability to undergo creative transformation. But in childhood creativity dominates. The mind expands in range of knowledge and power of control, its appreciative understanding of other minds and its participation in the cultural heritage. At no time is there so much expansion and enrichment of the mind and the world which the mind can appreciate. But resistances are encountered which brings anxiety, frustration, failure, and misunderstanding. To avoid suffering, the mind becomes evasive and creativity dies down. The bird ceases to beat against the bars of the cage.” (Man’s Ultimate Commitment. P. 72)

“Jaworski suggests that the whole U process is about just getting into the flow of deep intention and going with it.” (Theory U p. 199). Our paraphrase: The whole Creative Interchange process is about just getting into the flow of deep intention of the Creative Self and going with it.

“Doing so will require a new quality of awareness and attention: attention to not only what we do and how we dot it but to the inner source from which we operate – which is for most of us a blind spot.” (Theory U p. 227) Indeed, it will require a new quality of awareness and observation (first phase of Crucial Dialogue model): observation of what we do and how we do it (through Process awareness – tool #16) and of the WHY we do it (guided by our Intrinsic Worth, our Creative Self).

“Just as the U space of presencing spells out the economics of creation, the shadow space of absencing features the economics of destruction.” (Theory U p. 268) Paraphrase: ‘Just as Creative Interchange is about creation, the Vicious Circle is about destruction.’

“Thinking is an enormously powerful process – one that usually remains untapped, unused and unrecognized. Our thinking creates the world! But instead of discovering the creative power of real thinking, we are socialized into patterns of downloading.” (Theory U p. 270) Real thinking corresponds with characteristics Authentic Interacting and Appreciative Understanding of Creative Interchange, so the phases Communication and Understanding of Crucial Dialogues, the left hand side of the Crucial Dialogue model.

“Enacting the process of conversation from: Field 1 – Download, Field 2 – Debate, Field 3: Dialogue and Field 4 – Presencing” (Theory U pp; 274-281) Paraphrase : Field 1 Monologue, Field 2- Debate/Discussion, Field 4: Courteous Conversation/Dialogue, Field 4 – Dialogue, the CI way.

“Why Dialogue sometimes doesn’t happen.” (Theory U pp. 283-288) For our Paraphrase see ‘Cruciale dialogen’ pp 265-279.

“That’s how an inadequate learning culture operates. Only good news travel all up the way to the top. The bad news gets stuck someplace in the middle” (Theory U p. 318). That place is called “The Black Hole”! (cf my book ‘Creatieve wisselwerking’[vi] 2001).

“Those wo have a low quality of intention take advantage and exploit the weaknesses of those they are supposed to serve.” (Theory U p. 319) Indeed, those persons are locked in their Vicious Circle and they want to keep you in yours!

“Question: What is the invisible process and infrastructure that would help the species of institutional beings to evolve, to develop and to mature?” (Theory U p. 324) Answer: ‘The hidden secret behind theory U: Creative Interchange.’

“They can, as a result see each other’s contexts and issue areas and then progress to a shared understanding of the systemic forces at play and then begin to see and act from the emerging whole.” (Theory U p. 325) Paraphrase: ‘They express through authentic interacting their contexts/issues (phase 1), which they appreciatively understand (phase 2), progressing this way to a shared understanding, which creates a feeling through which we start imagining (phase 3) from the emerging whole; finally followed by transforming (phase 4).’

“Unless we address the real systemic root causes, we will not be successful in solving any key problem we face as a society today. How will we crack that nut?” (Theory U p. 331) Answer: ‘Through Crucial dialogues based on Creative Interchange.’

“Downloading is unilateral communication, non-inclusive and mostly nontransparent.” (Theory U p.  333) Downloading is conversing the monologue, the VC way; the opposite of Dialogue, the CI way.

“Generative communication (Collective Presence and Co-creation) is sensing and actualizing emerging opportunities.” (Theory U p. 337). Generative communication is Dialogue, the Creative Interchange way.

“Seeing and acting from the whole connecting players and stakeholders needing each other to take their system into the best future.” (Theory U p. 347) Once again (figure 10):

figuur 6

Figure 10

“Reinventing our entire educational system to emphasize the lifelong process of cultivating all the deeper learning capacities – the open mind, the open heart and the open will – would put whole societies on a different playing field.” (Theory U p. 349) That lifelong process is the Creative Interchange Process!

“Another missing piece and leveraging factor is Leadership – the capacity to collective sense, shape, and create our future.” (Theory U p. 352) Cannot miss this assist… so: “The Creative Interchange Process IS the Leader!”


[i] Scharmer, C. Otto. Theory U Leading From the Future as it Emerges The Social Technology of Presencing. San Francisco, Ca: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2009

[ii] Hagan S. & Palmgren, C. The Chicken Conspiracy. Breaking the Cycle of personal stress and organizational mediocrity. Baltimore, Ma: Recovery Communications, 1998.

[iii]Roels, Johan. Cruciale dialogen. De dagelijkse beleving van het Creatief wisselwerkingsproces. Antwerpen – Apeldoorn: Garant, 2012

[iv] Wieman, Henry Nelson. Man’s Ultimate Commitment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1958.

[v] Nonaka, Ikujiro and Hirotaka Takeuchi, The Knowledge-Creating Company How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1995

[vi] Roels, Johan. Creatieve wisselwerking Nieuw Business paradigma als hoeksteen voor veiligheidszorg en de lerende organisatie. Leuven – Apeldoorn: Garant. 2001