Below I share in a spirit of openness and transparency emails regarding Edie and Charlie Seashore leaving this earth.
In response to Dr. John Carter sending me an email with one line saying. Edie has died. I wrote to my friends:
Edie Seashore wanted to be with her love: Charlie Seashore. She left us just one day after Charlie’s West Coast Celebration Memorial.
I wrote this for all of us:
A sense of beauty, ecstasy, joy, bliss and poetry dwells in the inner being of every person. Here and now feelings of being blessed and of joy are in the breath of love.
Our inner world is the channel to the world of the eternal spirited love.
Deep meditative practice and prayer intuitively evidences immortality for all. Sages, Saints, philosophers, mystics and all major religions tell us that embedded in the inner spirit of our being is immortality.
Now Edie is dancing with Charlie. Few have demonstrated such extraordinary marital love.
I have Edie as one of the most important woman ever in OD. Who do we know that has done more to bring women into the male world of organization development and change?
Who do we know that has done more to champion diversity than Edie?
She always modeled inclusiveness.
Fred Miller who leads one of the great diversity consulting firms just emailed about his tears upon hearing the news. They were so close.
His partner Judith Katz, Fred’s partner just emailed. She said. “I was lucky to see Edie last week for breakfast — and I am just in shock that she is gone….I first met Edie when I was 22 years old — a graduate student at U Mass… and she has been my mentor, friend and so much more over all these years… A part of our family is now gone — her brilliance will live on in each of us – but no one can take her place or provide the simplicity, wisdom and wit that she gave me and all of us.”
Dr. Barbara Bunker just emailed. “I am still in shock about Edie whom I just spent a day with in early
February in her new home in Emeryville… Her and Charlie were my friends for almost 50 years…so now the remembering and the grieving process…..”
Edie was such a joy to work with in our Wiley OD Series. Her authenticity was brilliant. Her humor was uplifting.
Edie challenged Bradford for a “check in” as we started each meeting. I heard all about their relationship as youngsters in Bethel T-Groups.
I learned so much from her.
She changed my value system to being accepting to each and every soul…no matter what.
I was talking yesterday afternoon, before hearing the news, about Edie with my daughter, Arielle. I shared how Edie told me about her ability to let go of feelings after being confronted. In her early days, she said sometimes it took hours to recover from darting feedback. In her later years, she said she could let go of shocking feelings within seconds. She mastered her feelings.
Thanks to John Carter of the Gestalt Institute for letting us know about Edie’s passing. Edie wanted John to write a book for our series.
Bill, Jackie, daughter-Arielle and I were so fortunate to edit the following with friends, Gina Lavery and Tracey Wik.
Excerpts from Chapter 39 in Practicing OD. Third Edition.
Edie. What is your passion? How has it evolved?
I’m passionate about people following their passion and not thinking that society has made better choices for them. People should choose to work around things they are passionate about. Colleagues who were excited about something because I wasn’t hard to excite about ideas, often invited me. I was turned on by good ideas and also begin to add to enhance them. As a result, my early work was about collaborating with people who were excited and interested about something– people who could tap into my energy, curiosity, and interest.
The latest transformation of my practice has been around the notions of triple impact and use of self.
My passion now is to help leaders learn about themselves to be more effective. And to help them understand how they use themselves to help others to be more effective, which will then make improvements at the organizational level. My work is teaching leaders and colleagues to pass these concepts along. Getting the notion in their thinking has been difficult. It is not so much about systems but how to use your self in the system.
I think the only way anybody changes anything in the system is to get the right people connected to each other. With connectivity, things happen. When people get a critical mass of connectivity, they can bring about the change they want. I think it’s essential. But I don’t think it’s obvious. That’s why we ask people to draw their systems map and we ask them where in their system people need to support each other.
What led you to OD?
During my junior year, I met Doug McGregor, the new President of Antioch. Hearing him speak was my first transformative experience. He talked about something that none of us knew anything about, and that was the whole notion of process. We had tasks. We did something, but we were unaware something else was going on in a group that was making a difference. This concept was so transformative that it changed my world. Doug sent me to NTL, where was I was trained to work with group process.
Who were the people that influenced your consulting practice?
As I said earlier, Doug McGregor was instrumental in that he believed in me and introduced me to the whole concept of whole systems and group process.
He was instrumental in getting me to NTL, where I met Charlie and so many other interesting experts in the field.
Of course, marrying Charlie was very important for the direction my life would take. Charlie was a student of Ron Lippitt and they were doing research on learning possibilities. They concluded that experiential learning was better than lectures or reading.
Kurt Lewin was also hugely influential in the development of OD because he explored the notion of group dynamics, and out of that we got the idea OD. The notion that if you take the group as a system, look at the subgroupings, the impact of how decisions are made, and the kind of leadership that’s being exerted, you’ve got the beginnings of OD.
Lewin said that if you understood what was going on in systems, there’d never be a Hitler again. He came to this country to survive Nazism because he was an Austrian Jew. He was instrumental behind OD because he developed and formulated the principles. He was fascinated with groups, which is the baseline for much of what we do in OD. The whole system idea started with Lewin, and so did the concept of feedback and process.
I eventually went to work with Dick Beckhard. The interesting thing about him was his background in theater as a stage manager. His idea was to turn conferences from lectures into experiences. He was the one who first started small discussion groups in big conferences.
We got very involved with the Young Presidents Association, which was a very powerful organization time, and many the heads of the big companies were members of NTL. What amazed me is how deliberate we had to be to get organizations to be interactive. Hotels did not have roundtables, so we insisted they bring them in for what we were doing. All this was fascinating and transformative for the organizations. The relationship between the physical layout of the room and what we are trying to do became a big passion of mine. To this day were always rearranging the furniture.
Looking back at my career, I realize how fortunate I was to work with and know these people who contributed so enormously to my rich life. Indeed I am grateful.
And the Oscar goes to Edie Seashore
One of the people I emailed was Marv Weisbord.
He responded: On Feb 25, 2013, at 12:58 PM, Weisbord wrote:
How sad to learn of Edie’s death. She was a friend and colleague for more than 40 years. She was a key contributor to Productive Workplaces in 1987; a few years later we created a video together of Ken Benne leading a T-group at Bethel.
It lasted only a bit more than an hour during Edie’s and Morley Segal’s workshop. In it you witness a miracle under Ken’s skillful hand. It exists only because can-do-anything-Edie, when I wished we could get a video of Ken, instantly picked up the phone and got him. Later we went to Georgetown and taped him watching and commenting on the group he had led. What a learning experience! See it if you can. It’s part of Edie’s legacy. I nominate her for Best Producer.
Marvin Weisbord, Co-Director
Future Search Network
A Program of Resources for Human Development
4700 Wissahickon Ave., Suite 126
Philadelphia, PA 19144
610 896-7035 (personal line)
Productive Workplaces, 25th Anniversary Edition
2012 Best Business Book on Organizational Culture http://www.strategy+business.com/article/00148f
My response was:
Marvin and Billie Alban:
I do remember the video. I have my students view it. Thanks to you.
I’m going to take a risk and spread the video link and your quote to the world. Edie taught me to have courage and take risks.
I loved Edie and Charlie. Jack Gibb was my key early mentor. And of course Charlie did his Ph.D. dissertation with both Ron Lippitt and Jack at NTL. This was just before he married Edie
I have been very much influenced by Benne, Lippitt, Gibb, Bradford and you Mr. Weisbord.
Edie’s personal transformation reminds me to spend each hour of each day focused on growing and developing myself and practice of OD; all for the betterment of the world.
In a real sense, Marvin, I ready to leave my body right now. But in the meantime, let’s you and I have a lot of fun helping others search for and achieve their desired future.
Marvin, you are one of those people who has become a key role model.
I just love your new book. Billie Alban insisted I buy it. Billie, allow me to continue my risk-taking and also share your words with the world.
“When we ( Edie and I) were just at the OdNet work meeting she seemed well and as vibrant, charming and humorous as ever. It must also be shock for her daughters.”
I have heard from many others who have expressed the deep loss the field of OD has experienced.
The Pepperdine MSOD community has posted 4 videos of Charlie and Edie. They are classic. They give a sense of our history as a profession. I have them attached.
There are so many highlights that so many of us have. Two special ones for me are: I was introduced to the concepts of change agent, process, feedback, and social psychology in an NTL Charlie Seashore T-Group in 1962. The most fun I had with Charlie was co-designing with him and Rothwell, the first Asia OD Network Conference in Dubai.
Oh. Just one more share. Google “Gibb trust” and download Jack’s book free and read the extensive forward by Charlie. Jack wrote the first book on organization and interpersonal trust… still a key issue these days.
May both rest in peace. May the rest of us carry on their legacy of “Self as Instrument of Change”. God only knows that the change and dramatic global transformation has just begun.