Social Innovation & Social Well-Being: Lessons from Practice

December 9, 2009


Bartos Theatre, MIT Media Lab


Dr. C. Otto Scharmer is a senior lecturer at MIT, the founding chair of the Presencing Institute, and a founding member of the MIT Green Hub. Scharmer has consulted with global companies, international institutions, and governments in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has co-designed and delivered award-winning business leadership programs for client firms including Daimler, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Fujitsu, and Google. He also facilitates cross-sector programs for leaders in business, government, and civil society that focus on building people's collective capacity to achieve profound innovation and change.
Scharmer holds a PhD in economics and management from Witten-Herdecke University in Germany. He introduced the theoretical framework and practice called “presencing” in his book Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges (2007), and in Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society (2005), co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. With his colleagues, Scharmer has used presencing to facilitate profound innovation and change processes both within companies and across societal systems.
The Journal of Business Strategy (September/October 1999) named Peter M. Senge one of the 24 people who has had the greatest influence on business strategy over the last 100 years. The Financial Times (2000) named him one of the world's "top management gurus." BusinessWeek (October 2001) rated Senge one of the Top Ten Management Gurus.
Senge has lectured extensively throughout the world, translating the abstract ideas of systems theory into tools for better understanding of economic and organizational change. He studies decentralizing the role of leadership in organizations so as to enhance the ability of employees to work productively toward common goals, and the managerial and institutional changes needed to build more sustainable enterprises, which are businesses that foster social and natural as well as economic well being.
He is the author of several books, including the widely acclaimed The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization (1990). The Fifth Discipline hit a nerve within the business and education community by introducing the theory of learning organizations. Since its publication, more than a million copies have been sold worldwide. In 1997, Harvard Business Review identified it as one of the seminal management books of the past 75 years.
About the Social Health Initiative
Instead of building on a reactive health-care system centered around treating disease rather than preventing it, the Lab's new Social Health Initiative is focused on developing a proactive, social health system: a network of organizations and tools to give people the knowledge and support they need to maintain health, vitality, and happiness throughout their entire lives. This involves developing devices such as mobile phones that record our daily patterns and smart exercise equipment that knows our personal patterns and life-style goals. This initiative will integrate: persuasive technologies, to help us make better decisions and adopt better behaviors; personal sensing, to increase our awareness of our bodies; personal collective intelligence, for collect knowledge from our peers; and socially aware computation and communication systems that are aware of us as social beings.
This initiative is supported by Humana, Telmex, P&G, BT, and Best Buy, as well as grants from the US and Canadian governments.

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Host/Chair: (Unpublished) Social Health Living Laboratory

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