Meet the Author: Edgar H. Schein

by Shabnam Banerjee-McFarland

April 12, 2018

Named the “Father of Organizational Development,” Schein continues to reign as the gentle giant of the field. He is the author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including Career Dynamics, Organizational Culture and Leadership, and Humble Inquiry, and his work has been adopted in organizations around the world. Berrett-Koehler is proud to have been Edgar Schein’s primary publisher since 2003.

He has taught at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over fifty years, teaching hundreds of thousands of people. Among many other honors, Schein has won a Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award from the Academy of Management, a Lifetime Achievement Award in Workplace Learning and Performance from the Association for Talent Development, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association.

What's your greatest achievement?

Perhaps surprisingly, when asked what he is most proud of, Schein states, “I'm most proud of having first discovered that to be helpful, one must be humble and respect the client, and second, pleased to have been able—through the various books going back to Process Consultation (1969)—to convince my colleagues of the validity of this principle.”

“I'm most proud of having first discovered that to be helpful,
one must be humble and respect the client,
and second, pleased to have been able to convince
my colleagues of the validity of this principle.”

Since Ed is approaching ninety years old, readers often wonder what keeps him writing, to which he warmly responds, “I still see the organizational world as being in the Darwinian age where good observation, description, and tentative analysis are badly needed.”

A humble hit.

His 2013 book Humble Inquiry—a deep dive into a new and better way for leaders to relate to followers he introduced in his widely regarded book Helping—has reached international bestseller status, selling nearly 120,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into thirteen languages.

Since the release of this title, the Humble series has grown into a franchise. Shortly after the publication of Humble Inquiry, Humble Consulting built upon the practitioner focus for organizational development consultants and provided incisive commentary and practices on bringing Schein’s concepts to life.

The books have been adopted by the Mayo Clinic, the Department of Homeland Security, and numerous other organizations, showcasing their diverse appeal across a variety of industries.

What now?

Schein’s newest release, Humble Leadership, coauthored with his son Peter, is hitting shelves in summer 2018, further broadening the scope of Ed's work to encourage all leaders to embrace vulnerability and empathy and emphasizing these characteristics as powerful sources of strength.

Most recently, Ed and Peter Schein have founded the Organizational Culture and Leadership Institute, a firm “dedicated to advancing organizational development and design through a deeper understanding of organizational culture and career development.” By providing custom consulting services and a series of dialogues and workshops for those seeking to better understand their organizational culture’s DNA, Schein and Schein continue to break new ground.

Topics: Your Organization, ed schein, meet the author, Recommended Reading

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