Edgar H. Schein
Edgar Henry Schein (born March 5, 1928 – January 26, 2023) is an American organizational psychologist, and Emeritus Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has made a notable mark on the field of organizational development in many areas, including career development, group process consultation, and organizational culture.
- A key characteristic of the engineering culture is that the individual engineer’s commitment is to technical challenge rather than to a given company. There is no intrinsic loyalty to an employer as such. An employer is good only for providing the sandbox in which to play. If there is no challenge or if resources fail to be provided, the engineer will seek employment elsewhere. In the engineering culture, people, organization, and bureaucracy are constraints to be overcome. In the ideal organization everything is automated so that people cannot screw it up. There is a joke that says it all. A plant is being managed by one man and one dog. It is the job of the man to feed the dog, and it is the job of the dog to keep the man from touching the equipment. Or, as two Boeing engineers were overheard to say during a landing at Seattle, “What a waste it is to have those people in the cockpit when the plane could land itself perfectly well.” Just as there is no loyalty to an employer, there is no loyalty to the customer. As we will see later, if trade-offs had to be made between building the next generation of “fun” computers and meeting the needs of “dumb” customers who wanted turnkey products, the engineers at DEC always opted for technological advancement and paid attention only to those customers who provided a technical challenge.
- Edgar H. Schein (2010). Dec Is Dead, Long Live Dec: The Lasting Legacy of Digital Equiment Corporation. p. 60
- We must become better at asking and do less telling in a culture that overvalues telling. It has always bothered me how even ordinary conversations tend to be defined by what we tell rather than by what we ask. Questions are taken for granted rather than given a starring role in the human drama. Yet all my teaching and consulting experience has taught me that what builds a relationship, what solves problems, what moves things forward is asking the right questions.
- Edgar H. Schein (2013). Humble Inquiry; The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. p. 3-4
Organizational Culture and Leadership, 1985
Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership: A dynamic view. . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 1985, 1992.
- Organizational cultures are created by leaders, and one of the decisive functions of leadership may well be the creation, the management, and--if and when that may become necessary--the destruction of culture.
- p. 2
- A deeper understanding of cultural issues in organizations is necessary not only to decipher what goes on in them but, even more important, to identify what may be the priority issues for leaders and leadership. Organizational cultures are created by leaders, and one of the most decisive functions of leadership may well be the creation, the management, and--if and when that may become necessary--the destruction of culture. Culture and leadership, when one examines them closely, are two sides of the same coin, and neither can really be understood by itself. In fact, there is a possibility--underemphasized in leadership research--that the only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture and that the unique talent of leaders is their ability to work with culture.
- p. 2
- A pattern of basic assumptions--invented, discovered, or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration--that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
- p. 6
- Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic 'taken for granted' fashion an organization's view of its self and its environment.
- p. 6-7
- The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.. The unique talent of leaders is their ability to understand and work with culture; and that it is an ultimate act of
- p. 11
- [ Organizational culture is] a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.
- p. 12
- With the changes in technological complexity, especially in information technology, the leadership task has changed. Leadership in a networked organization is a fundamentally different thing from leadership in a traditional hierarchy.
- p. 12-13
- The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.
- p. 20
- All groups and organizations need to know how they are doing against their goals and periodically need to check to determine whether they are performing in line with their mission. This process involves three areas in which the group needs to achieve consensus leading to cultural dimensions that later drop out of awareness and become basic assumptions. Consensus must be achieved on what to measure, how to measure it, and what to do when corrections are needed. The cultural elements that form around each of these issues often become the primary focus for what newcomers to the organization will be concerned about because such measurements inevitably become linked to how each employee is doing his or her job.
- p. 97
- One of the best mechanisms that founders, leaders, managers, or even colleagues have available for communicating what they believe in or care about is what they systematically pay attention to.
- p. 225
Quotes about Edgar H. Stein
- Edgar H. Schein is considered one of the founders of the field of organizational psychology.
- J. Thomas Wren (2013), The Leader's Companion: Insights on Leadership Through the Ages. p. 271