Social Presencing Theater principles

The Principles Applied in Social Presencing Theater

This is a continuation of the June 11, 2019 post, Social Presencing – A Practice for Tapping into Collective Wisdom and June 18, 2019 post Why Social Presencing?

Based on experiences and training in Social Presencing Theater (SPT), combined with the wider body of Theory U practices, below are some of the main principles applied during SPT exercises.

Holding A Safe Space

First, the organizational leader recognizes the vulnerability inherent in the practice and can create and hold a safe space for the team to engage through the body.  No one embodies their own role during group social sculptures which removes existing organizational hierarchy during the practice.

Participants are encouraged to keep an open mind, open heart and open will during all exercises. At the same time, participants welcome uncertainty and curiosity and bring intention and attention to the practice.  Thus, they can let go of reaction while welcoming an attending to source, i.e. sensing the self and others. The result is that more time is spent on letting the future emerge than downloading past patterns.

Seeing The Highest Potential Of The Challenge

Theory U refers to three voices which can inhibit participants’ ability to see the highest potential of the challenge they are working with.  Therefore, the Voice of Judgement (VoJ) is suspended, Voice of Cynicism (VoC) is redirected and the Voice of Fear (VoF) is let go.

Participants bring mindful attention to the three bodies, maintaining a focus on physical sensation in the body to enable agenda-less, unplanned movement to arise from the body, i.e. a “true move”.  A “true move” emerges from the thinking body rather than from the thinking mind.

Including The Three Divides

Finally, the social sculptures include not only system stakeholder roles such as government, customer, employee, etc. but also the Earth, highest potential and most vulnerable stakeholder.  These three stakeholders represent Otto Scharmer’s three divides which are ecological, social and spiritual, and refer to the disconnect between self and nature, the disconnect between self and other and the disconnect between self and self (Scharmer, 2018, p. 4-5).

Including such a holistic set of stakeholders helps organizations be inclusive and empathic while allowing the highest potential of the challenge they are working with to emerge.

Photo credit: Ahmad Odeh, Unsplash