Otto Scharmer and Matt Stinchcomb in Conversation

Otto Scharmer understands the stages of consciousness that are necessary to achieve transformation – whether that be transformation of the self, transformation of a group initiative, transformation of a business, or systemic change. His Theory U training is a step by step exploration of these stages in different settings. An economist by training, his application of Theory U to our economic system provides one of the clearest blueprints of how to move “from an old paradigm of economic thought that revolves around ego-system awareness to a new paradigm that revolves around eco-system awareness, by which I mean focusing on a compassion-based well-being of all, the well-being of the whole”

His work at the Presencing Institute “activates a means of learning that connects people to their deeper sources of creativity—that is, to their capacity for intuiting and then actualizing emerging future possibilities.”

Matt Stinchcomb brought a background in the arts to his position as Director of Marketing in the four-person startup team of But instead of reading books on marketing, Stinchcomb was reading E. F. Schumacher, Bill McKibben, Donella Meadows, Wendell Berry, Paul Hawkin, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Shunryu Suzuki. “That’s how I began to get a real business education.”

The mission of Etsy was to: Re-imagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world. “So I asked myself, What are the skills, aptitudes, and attitudes that will get us there? . . . You do need to know accounting and a few other business skills to be an entrepreneur—but I believe they should be supplemented by courses in systems thinking, permaculture, ecological commerce, biomimicry, art, craft, authentic leadership, ethics, citizenship, nonviolent communication, community organization, a just culture, and mindfulness.

To quote Schumacher: “An attitude to life which seeks fulfillment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth—in short, materialism—does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.”

When it comes to business, a right view is a systems view, and as Otto Scharmer teaches us, it’s not an egosystem view but an ecosystem view.


In celebration of 40 years of the Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, and in anticipation of the October 25, 2020 Lectures with Kali Akuno and George Monbiot, we are highlighting the work of past speakers, asking for updates of their earlier remarks, and inviting them to reflect on current conditions.

On September 3 at 2 pm Eastern, Otto Scharmer and Matt Stinchcomb will engage in a live, virtual conversation on Zoom, moderated by John Fullerton, reflecting on their original talks given current political, economic, and social realities and will then comment on each other’s work. Registration is free. A question and answer period will follow initial presentations. If you are unable to attend, a recording of the event will be available.

About our speakers:

Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer in the MIT Management Sloan School and co-founder of the Presencing Institute. He chairs the MIT IDEAS program for cross-sector innovation and introduced the concept of “presencing”—learning from the emerging future—in his bestselling books Theory U and Presence (the latter co-authored with P. Senge et al). He is co-author of Leading from the Emerging Future, which outlines eight acupuncture points for transforming capitalism. His most recent book, The Essentials of Theory U, summarizes the core principles and applications of awareness-based systems change.

In 2015, Otto co-founded the MITx u.lab, a massive open online course (MOOC) for leading profound change, which has since activated a global eco-system of transformational change involving more than 160,000 users from 185 countries. In March 2020, Otto and his colleagues at the Presencing Institute launched GAIA(Global Activation of Intention and Action), a free, online, deep learning journey, geared toward profound personal, societal, and planetary renewal.

Otto earned his diploma and PhD in economics from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. He received the Jamieson Prize for Teaching Excellence at MIT, the European Leonardo Corporate Learning Award and is a member of the World Future Council. The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General appointed him to the UN Learning Advisory Council for the 2030 Agenda.

Matt Stinchcomb is the cofounder of The Boatbuilders, a new initiative that provides financial, strategic, and tactical support to organizations, projects, and communities working to build a more resilient future in the Hudson Valley. Prior to this, he was the Executive Director at the Good Work Institute, a nonprofit organization with a mission to cultivate, connect, support, and illuminate a network of people and initiatives working towards Just Transition in the Hudson Valley. Before heading up the Good Work Institute, Stinchcomb was the VP of Values and Impact at In that role he oversaw the stewardship of the company’s mission, and worked to give all employees the means and the desire to maximize the benefit their work has on people and the planet.

Stinchcomb serves on the Board of Directors for the Schumacher Center for a New Economics, Hawthorne Valley Association, and The Good Work Institute. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and lives in Rhinebeck, NY with his wife and children.


Past lectures by our speakers include:

Otto Scharmer:
2013 – America Emerging: Western Civilization 2.0
Matt Stinchcomb:
2014 – The Nature of Work: How Ecosystems Can Teach Us to Build Lasting and Fulfilling Businesses


On August 27th, Jodie Evans moderated a conversation between Mary Berry and Bill McKibben. You may view the recording, as well as past Schumacher Conversations and select Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures, on our YouTube Channel.