Book Review, “Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies”

I have just finished reading the new book Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kuafer and the following are my reflections.

The authors have blown me away by how they have presented – with utter simplicity and utmost clarity – a compelling and revolutionary ‘manifesto’ for transforming society, organisations, and our own individual lives. I use the term ‘revolution’ because the book is a game changer.

Those that might have found Otto’s earlier book, Theory U, hard to follow will pleasantly discover that the contents of Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies can be easily accessed by both ordinary readers and scholars.

Otto and Katrin point out that as the human race we are generating results that we do not want. This is true whether we are talking about our economic, political, health, or education systems. The authors present irrefutable evidence of how we (and our institutions) have, by predominantly pursuing narrow sectoral and individual interests, trapped ourselves into a zero sum game where we are faced with “crumbling walls” and can only emerge as losers unless we begin to think and act differently.

I am in awe of the authors’ courage to name systems and world-views that are in the forefront of preaching and practicing approaches to life that initially look attractive and yet in the long term can only bring more of the same – massive institutional and system failure and collapse. Some of these ‘systems’ exist and are hard-wired within each one of us. However, this is not who we truly are as humans.

Otto and Katrin do not simply offer reasons for institution and system failure, they also convincingly present alternative approaches. They share compelling pieces of evidence of individuals, organisations and communities that are living and practicing elements of the future society we should be seeking to create on a total human scale (society 4.0).

I have been fascinated by the authors’ capacity to trace and blend old-age ancient wisdom from across generations and cultures with academically sound data, arguments and pieces of evidence. This, in my opinion, is what allows Otto and Katrin to successfully present a compelling vision for the future and the process(es) and practices of how we can all work to get there.

This is a book that I wish all leaders in political, economic and learning institutions should read. I am hopeful that if sufficient numbers of young people, whose future we have almost ruined, read the book; they will have the courage to fast track the pace of change. Arguably, Leading from the Future as it Emerges may come to pass as one of the most important books of all time.

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