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Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (BK Business) Paperback – September 30, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1609949815 ISBN-10: 1609949811 Edition: 1st

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Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (BK Business) + Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help + Organizational Culture and Leadership
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Product Details

  • Series: BK Business
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1 edition (September 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609949811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609949815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“I have had the privilege of working with Ed Schein.  Reading Humble Inquiry I could hear his voice asking me those humble questions that joined us in a mutual search for the answer. His book distills what he has learned and practiced in a lifetime of helping high-powered leaders be even more successful.”
—Anthony F. Earley, Jr., Chairman, CEO and President, PG&E Corporation

“Schein helps us understand the importance of transcending hierarchy and authority to build authentic relationships predicated on trust and respect.  Humble iInquiry is a powerful approach to building safe environments for our people and, ultimately, our patients.”
—Gary S. Kaplan MD, Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Health System

“Quiet wisdom from an expert, enlivened by personal examples. Insightful and easy to read, it made me look again at my own behavior in my relationships, both at work and in the home.”
—Charles Handy

“An invaluable guide for a consultant trying to understand and untangle system and interpersonal knots. Written with a beguiling simplicity and clarity, it is laden with wisdom and practicality.” 
—Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Stanford University

“The lessons contained in this deceptively simple book reach beyond the author’s experience gained from a lifetime of consultation to organizations of all sizes and shapes. It provides life lessons for us all. If, as a result of reading this book, you begin to practice the art of humble asking, you will have taken an important step toward living wisely.”
—Samuel Jay Keyser, Peter de Florez Professor Emeritus, MIT

“This book seriously challenges leaders to re-examine the emphasis on task orientation and ‘telling’ subordinates how best to do their jobs. Humble Inquiry increases organizational capacity to learn more from cross-cultural teamwork, reduces stress, and increases organizational engagement and productivity.”
—Jyotsna Sanzgiri, MBA, PhD, Professor, California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University

“This book is particularly important for leaders who in these complex times need advice and tools for building trust in their relationships with subordinates individually or in teams.”
—Danica Purg, President, IEDC-Bled School of Management, Bled, Slovenia

“This book is an exercise in inquiry by a recognized master of humble insight.”
—Art Kleiner, Editor-in-Chief, Booz & Company/strategy+business

“Ed Schein has provided a new and thoughtful reframing of interpersonal dynamics through the notion of Humble Inquiry. This short book is packed with insights as Schein rigorously explores the impact of his ideas in his usually clear and readable style.”
—Michael Brimm, Professor of Organizational Behavior, INSEAD Europe

“Humble Inquiry is an elegant treatment of how to go about building and sustaining solid, trusting relationships in or out of the workplace. A masterful take on a critical human skill too infrequently practiced.”
—John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Management and Professor of Organization Studies, MIT

“A fast read and full of insight! Schein uses stories from his personal life and his successful career as a process consultant that pointedly ask, ‘How willing are you to cast aside hierarchy? How personal are you willing to be?’ Considering the cultural, occupational, generational, and gender communication barriers we face every day, Humble Inquiry proposes a very practical, nonthreatening approach to bridging those gaps and increasing the mutual understanding that leads to operational excellence.”
—Rosa Antonia Carrillo, MSOD, safety leadership consultant

“A remarkably valuable guide for anyone interested in leading more effectively and building strong relationships. Ed Schein presents vivid examples grounded in a lifetime of experience as husband, father, teacher, administrator, and consultant.”
—Robert B. McKersie, Professor Emeritus, Sloan School of Management, MIT

“Ed Schein has an eye for bold yet subtle insights into the big picture and a knack for writing about them clearly. Humble Inquiry—like his previous book Helping—shows that he is equally talented at bringing fresh thinking to well-trodden ground.”
—Grady McGonagill, EdD, Principal, McGonagill Consulting

“What did I gain from reading Humble Inquiry? I became more aware of the subtle but powerful ways we affect each other as we talk and how the right kind of questions can dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of communication, with benefits that range from increased patient safety and satisfaction to employee motivation and morale to organizational performance. You can’t afford to not know about this.”
—Anthony Suchman, MD, MA, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

“With the world as his classroom, Ed Schein continues to guide us through modern day chaos with the powerful behaviors of Helping and Humble Inquiry. This is a must-read for anyone who truly wishes to achieve important goals!”
—Marjorie M. Godfrey, Codirector, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice Microsystem Academy

About the Author

Edgar H. Schein is the Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His previous books include Helping; Process Consultation Revisited; The Corporate Culture Survival Guide; DEC Is Dead, Long Live DEC; Organizational Culture and Leadership; and Career Anchors.

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Customer Reviews

An easy and quick read.
Amazon Customer
In this book, Edgar Schein provides practical ways for leaders to engage with their people and stakeholders more effectively in an increasingly interdependent world.
Jozsef Juhasz
It was recommended I read this book as a new manager.
Scott A. Karbon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jody Hoffer Gittell on September 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
One question I have is how this humble inquiry approach can gain traction in industries where it seems to be totally undervalued. It is not the leadership approach that tends to be promoted in MBA programs - perhaps quite the opposite.

I wanted to share an experience I had while teaching about relational coordination - coordinating work processes through shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect - in the MIT Operations Academy with executives from an international energy company who were trying hard to improve the safety culture of their organization. One executive asked me: "What kind of leadership is conducive to relational coordination?" I answered after thinking for a moment: "I don't know - I haven't studied it but probably something like leading through humble inquiry." He responded "That's what I thought and that's not what gets rewarded here." It turns out that one of their senior leaders who was being recognized at the graduation ceremony was credited with helping to turn around the troubled Alaska region. He explained what happened: "I realized I wasn't going to accomplish anything by staying at headquarters. I went up to the region and talked to front-line operators and asked: What is your job and how can I help you to do it better?" What he learned through this process and perhaps just as importantly the relationships he built as a leader helped to turn around the safety outcomes of that region.

This process sounded a lot like humble inquiry - like in the Toyota Production System and at Southwest Airlines in which managers lead by going to the front line to "see" and "ask.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 5, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You should listen more than you speak and ask more than you tell. This is certainly true. If you repeat this message over and over, add some personal experiences and make sure to add some examples including various forms of business leaders, well, then you have this book. I wonder if those who really need to be reminded about the Importance of asking actually bother to read such a book. To the rest of us, this book is a statement of the obvious, unfortunately adding nothing new. Two stars for getting the message right, though.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. A. van der Zouwen on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to find out things, just start with asking humble questions and take time to listen instead of telling. This is important, because many mistakes could have been avoided by just listening to people on the shop floor. They have the information you need. Intrusive asking or telling shuts people down. Humble inquiry opens space for people to share their information and ideas. It is a humble book in itself, only a 110 easy to read pages with a lot of wisdom, presented in a humble way. Warmly recommended.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mark Seidl on December 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book introduces us to Humble Inquiry which is a way of asking questions that builds trust and relationships. While the idea has merit, the book spends far too much time on defining what trust, relationships and culture in the context of this idea rather than focusing on the strategies for learning and applying the approach.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gilbert Brenson-Lazan on October 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Dr. Edgar H. Schein has been a hero of mine since one of his first books (Coercive Persuasion, 1961) convinced me to change my pre-med studies to Social Psychology more than half a century ago. Along the way, his important contributions to the fields of organizational and leadership psychology nudged me to move on from family and group therapy and work with organizations, communities and teams. Now, at 86, he has just published yet another landmark work: “Humble Inquiry” (Barrett-Kohler, 2013). He defines it as “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based upon curiosity and interest in the other person”.

In this latest jewel, he compares different types of inquiry, explains the benefits of humble inquiry, identifies the internal and external inhibitors of developing and practicing it, and finally--and most importantly--offers specific, pragmatic and effective strategies for developing an attitude of humble inquiry that transcends hierarchy and authority, in order to build trust, respect and meaningful conversations.

I not only have Dr. Schein to thank for discovering what would be my lifelong career and also for reinventing myself a couple of times along the way, but also for reminding me that fifty years later we can still be very productive and contribute as writers. I promise to follow the example.

Gilbert Brenson Lazan
Founding Partner, Amauta International, LLC

E-Mail: amauta@me.com
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By dipthongdude on December 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This one has a good title, and a couple of paragraphs about how to humbly approach situations would have sufficed to cover what the book was dealing with.... overall, I can't recommend.. One good idea, but no need for a book to cover it...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Liz K. on October 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very thought provoking about normal, everyday life interactions, and how they might have gone better with a little more attention to what is said!
An easy read full of anecdotes that illustrate the points Dr. Schein is making.
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