Home Organizational Psychology Leadership Leading into the Future I: An Introduction

Leading into the Future I: An Introduction

21 min read

Learning into the Future: On the Edge of Knowing

Living-on-the-edge is also exciting and addicting. It is a threshold experience. (Turner, 1969) This is what Csikszentmihalyi (1990) calls a flow experience. It brings us into the special realm that resides between boredom and anxiety. The edge is a boundary—the intersection between different systems and different cultures. It is at the edge or boundary of any system that we find maximum information and maximum unpredictability, for the edge is the point where a system is conducting transactions with the outside world.

This is the edge of knowing. Otto Sharmer (2009.p. 7) captures this notion of edgy knowledge when differentiating between learning from the past and learning from the future:

. . . there are two different sources of learning: learning from the experiences of the past and learning from the future as it emerges. The first type of learning, learning from the past, is well known and well developed. It underlies all our major learning methodologies, best practices and approaches to organizational learning. By contrast, the second type of learning, learning from the future as it merges, is still by and large unknown.

Sharmer goes on to suggest that this second type of learning requires what he calls “presencing” – a combination of two words: “presence” and “sensing”. These are processes that I suggest describe the edge of knowing. Thus, I am introducing not only the paradox of “leading into the future” but also the equally paradoxical notion of “learning into the future” and living on the edge of knowledge.

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