Ich freue mich dass unser Paper „The Way of nowhere – releasing the creative potential of leaders and organisations“ bei der M/O/T 2010 International Conference on Management Learning angenommen wurde. Die Konferenz steht unter dem Thema „Management Makes the World Go Around – Learning for the Future in Management and Organizations“ und findet vom 1. bis 4. Dezember 2010 in Wien statt.

Hier ist der Abstract des Artikels:

The Way of nowhere – releasing the creative potential of leaders and organisations

Nic Turner (managing director of limitednowhere)

Dr. Michael Paula (nowhere 8 Questions Leadership Circles)

The Challenge of leadership

Drawing on 12 years of experience with global businesses “the Way of nowhere” Udall and Turner 2008, is based on two critical concepts. These concepts derive from leading edge Academic research (most recently, the work of Johansen 2009 in his research into the key competencies of leadership in a world which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, and of Torbert 1991 in his groundbreaking work on how different stages of ego development in leaders affect the culture and transformative potential of the organizations which they lead).

Thus, these two key concepts are, firstly, that the more volatile and uncertain the environment the greater is the need for innovation to respond elegantly to the challenges that arise. Secondly, this ability to innovate and, perhaps more importantly, to lead innovation and develop cultures of innovation that release the creative potential of the people is largely confined by the world view that the leader or leaders inhabit.

Leadership or Management

Perhaps a clichéd distinction, but nevertheless, in this context worth reminding ourselves that a Leader is “followed by others, the most advanced or successful” whereas a manager “is responsible for controlling or administering”.

Nowhere’s work with organisations all over the world more often confronts us with a crisis whereby executives are behaving as managers when it is leadership that is required. Or to use Torbert’s taxonomy, we often meet senior executives who in terms of their stage of ego development are „achievers“. Such leaders are focused on analysis and rationality, the truth can be found, goals agreed and targets set. Such skills are vital. However, what the achiever is less able to do is to question the way in which they are making sense of the world in the interests of creating new meanings and more profound insights. This ability to create new meaning is the domain of the post conventional stages of ego development. The success of major organisational transformations often requires one or more post conventional leaders. It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that our ability, as humans, to navigate our course through the challenges and volatility we face may be influenced by the extent to which we can nurture such Leaders.

Can Leaders learn to Create Cultures of Innovation?

The answer to this should be a resounding „Yes“. We can just identify the competences of required, designed ways of communicating and practicing them and then use in company action learning and coaching to support their implementation. The problem with this, of course, is that we are using an „achiever“ approach to developing a post conventional world view!

Nowhere’s response to this dilemma has been two fold. Firstly, over the last 12 years we have developed and codified a practice which demonstrably releases the creative potential of the people and organsiations.

This work is summarised in „the Way of Nowhere“ Turner and Udall, Harper Collins 2008. Secondly, we are creating circles of leaders in UK, US, Austria, Germany, and China to collectively enquire into the nature of the leadership required for the 21C. What we have developed therefore, is not an answer but rather a beginning practice that can create shared meaning and a common vocabulary. This can then be used as the basis for a global community of enquiry that collectively unfolds insights into this key question.

The 8questions Practice

Through our work with thousands of leaders in hundreds of businesses around the world, we have identified four areas of focus and four complex skills that can begin to support leaders in stepping forward to co-create the futures we need. These areas are: purpose, relationship, co-creation, and strategic innovation.

The complex skills required to lead oneself and the social systems that we influence in this direction are: presence, intentionality, systemic awareness and transforming energy.

These areas of focus cannot be taught or trained but using the power of questions, each of us can explore how these energy intelligences manifest in our lives and in our work. This is both inner work and outer work as we, as leaders, realise that we are both the biggest enablers and disablers of creativity and innovation.

We will describe the areas of focus and complex skills in relation to the many leaders and businesses we have worked with.

Co-Creative Circles Enquiring into 21c leadership

Johansen 2009 uses the term „commons“ to describe an asset that is of benefit to many others, for example a park or a library. The issue of next generation leadership is so important that we must develop a „commons“ around it whereby leaders share their experiences and create a platform for the greater good.

Co-creative circles explore the subject of 21c leadership experientially and intellectually through practice, input, and application within businesses all over the world. It is designed to be a world-wide, web enabled, commons creating enquiry into the leadership we need for the times we are in.

We will both describe how such co-creative circles work and how the commons will be co-created and give participants a profound experience of such a co-creative circle.


The global system is indeed out of balance as you identify in the brief for your Call For Papers. nowhere, a hidden community of companies, has developed a practice as a way of enabling leaders, teams and organizations to experience and then leverage creative and collective breakthroughs. This practice is based on the need to restore this balance. The basis of this practice is how the ego traps us and prevents us from achieving the innovation that we need to create a sustainable future. Left unchecked, our individual and collective egos maintain an iron grip on our individual and collective lack of balance.

We would like to share this practice with you and invite you and the participants at the “Management Makes the World Go Round Conference” to join us in creating an ongoing collective enquiry into how to develop ourselves and the leaders we need in order to restore balance.