In 2009 I had the opportunity to attend Edgar Schein’s seminar at Cape Cod Institute. Charlie and Edie Seashore were also giving a seminar on the Intentional Use of Self, if I’m not mistaken. I couldn’t attend to their seminar, but I made a mental note to do it as soon as I could, as I heard great things about them and learn about their contribution to the OD/HSI field. This year, Charlie passed away and I look forward to attending this summer to the seminar that Edie and Robert Marshak would give. However, I just learned that this Saturday, Edie passed away, too, which is very sad news for all OD practitioners, who learned with them about the use of Self as an instrument for change, the importance of feedback and reframing in our own change processes, and so on.
Using our Self to facilitate change is not an easy process. It implies being aware of our own internal processes, background, ideas, feelings, emotions, and a lot of other factors that may be conscious or unconscious. It also changes ourselves, and that’s not an easy task to endure. Using our Self requires also an understanding of the systems paradigm, and embracing emergence; something that not everyone is at ease with, given the need for highly structured plans and prediction in the current markets.
There are different models used to understand one’s Self as an instrument for organizational diagnosis. They help us to triangulate the data and understand ourselves and the world we live in. Using one’s Self requires a lot of training, awareness, and reflection. We need to uncover ourselves, in the same way we peel an onion, understanding that every layer is the onion itself, but the onion is more than a layer.
Seashore uses a model a little bit more complex, that includes:
- Unconscious and out of awareness factors
- Systems thinking and the issue of undesirable outcomes
- Working with colleagues
- Long term self development
- Support systems
- Frameworks and theories
- Projection and transference
- Reflexive processing
- Appreciation of Diversity
with the purpose of understanding and using one’s Self to help individuals, groups and organizations achieve their own potential and become sustainable and strong. And as Charlie Seashore said: “It is not the simplest way to go about our business, but it may be one of the most intriguing, rewarding and powerful of the tools available to us”.