Theory U for Societal Change: A powerful tool to change yourself and society as a whole – Part 3

In my last two articles you could read about how the Ulab at Iseg started, what the principles of the Theory U are, how we applied the methodology to our project at Iseg (Lisbon School of Economics & Management) regarding bringing innovation in the higher education and some personal learning points. In this article I will share some more insights I gained through the Theory U course and experience during the last 6 months in the project and how it impacted my life and work.

  • Based on all information and experiences heard and shared with the Ulab people locally and Slab people internationally (including Otto Scharmer and his team joined in the Slab), I noticed a shift in the focus of my life and work. I am much more aware of the importance to contribute to communities that I´m part of, which also caused a shift in my focus at work. Having worked on personal branding for some years, for me the moment had come to embrace this concept as something much broader. Not only focusing on personal branding but also on personal contribution, as we all are responsible for the world we are creating. Sharing is Caring and Caring is Sharing! Every little action counts and contributes to a bigger picture, and everything you do will come back to you somehow. Even just saying ‘Thank you’ for someone that opens the door for you or letting a person with only a few things pass at the counter in the supermarket, can make somebody´s day, and will make your day too soon. I also gained more ecological awareness and try to reduce consumption on several levels. Do I really need to buy a new dress? Do I really need a plastic bag to buy three carrots? Do we really need to buy Nutella chocolate paste if they use palmtree oil? No, said my daughter when she found out how orangutans are being injured when they approach the palmtree fields.
  • This brings me to my second point, which is being more mindful about the people and things I invest my time in. In a world with so much noisy communication and opinion sharing 24/7, it´s even more important to know where you want to focus on in life. Evaluation of what gives me energy and what not, is an important measurement for me here.
  • Talking about being mindful brings me to my next point, which is the importance of mindfulness in my life and work with clients. Creating a moment of mindfulness every day is a very powerful tool and brings us back to here and now. This state of mind gives me much more focus and concentration to do my work in the way which makes sense to me, and not according to other people´s opinions. I also teach these techniques to my clients and many of them, regardless of their levels and age, gave me great feedback on this matter as it helps them to stay calm in challenging situations and to accomplish their objectives.
  • Through the observation of my quality of observing and thinking patterns that I practised during the Theory U course, I now manage to observe much more by surprise than by judgement. If you just let the other person express him or herself, you can learn so much more from each other and that creates much more empathy, the basis for a good collaboration and leadership. It´s a continuous process, which needs a big effort everyday, but it is very powerful I think.
  • One other important aspect that became very clear to me during the last 12 months is the importance of the presence of arts and aesthetics in my work and life. Doing any kind of arts – in the broadest sense of the word – establishes this crucial connection between the head and heart, which will give more well-being (creating something gives human beings a deeper sense of purpose) and more human-centred solutions on corporate level. For this last  matter I use several creative tools in my work with clients (in teams and on individual level) like design thinking and Lego© Serious Play©. In my personal life I enjoy even more my yoga classes and started again with my drawing lessons!
  • During the course and project, we had many opportunities to practise deep listening and having meaningful conversations, without time pressure. Those were such special moments as during these full attention dialogues, we could access our intelligence and emotions on a deeper level. This also happened during the journalling sessions guided by Otto Scharmer. A closer connection between all senses can give you more effective solutions than the solutions you get by superficial fast meetings. It´s a challenge for the times we are living in, but just try it once in a while at your work or with a group of friends to see and feel the difference! Experienced facilitators can help with these kinds of sessions.
  • And last but not least, like was said in the last online session with the Slab in June: ‘You have to let go to let the movement start.’ So what do you need to let go to let something new, something better for you, start?

I would love to hear your reactions and experiences regarding these topics!


If you are interested to learn more about the Theory U and its principles, I recommend to check out the course I did last year ‘U.lab: Leading From the Emerging Future’  which will be launched again in September. You can find more info about the course in this link:

You can read more about the principles of the Theory U and real life cases in the book written by Otto Scharmer:

You can also find out more about the Theory U and its movement at and see the updates of the Ulab Iseg at

If you want to know how your company or community can benefit from the implementation of the Theory U principles, feel free to contact us!

Manon Rosenboom Alves

Founder & Managing Director Reinvent Yourself

mobile: +351 964481443



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