- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (June 9, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 157675264X
- ISBN-13: 978-1576752647
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership
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About the Author
Now Professor of Management at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, William Torbert has earlier served as the school's Graduate Dean and Director of the PhD Program in Organizational Transformation.
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Top customer reviews
The authors introduce the idea that every action is an inquiry and every inquiry is an action. The premise of the book is that you need to be in inquiry in every moment at different levels to make the best choices and approach decisions with full awareness. This is a useful concept and it is illustrated throughout the book with many real-life business examples.
As a former director in a large company, I can say that these are practical ideas that if applied could be very transformational to an organization. The challenge is to really impliment them and not just pay lip service to the concepts. This must begin with the leaders. If they don't buy into the model, it will be difficult to get other people onboard, but not impossible. The book is about each individual being a change agent through action-inquiry.
What I didn't like about the book is that I found there were too many examples to illustrate the same basic concepts, there was also quite a bit of repetition of concepts and an unnecessary use of jargon where plain everyday language would have done just fine.
I think this book could have been half the length and been just as effective. I also think the author could have presented his ideas more clearly and concisely. In places, he uses different language for the various levels of inquiry and this tends to make the flow more confusing than it has to be. In the next revision, it would be good to see some of these issues addressed.
However, I still recommend this book to business and other leaders. In fact, it is useful for anyone who wants to live with more awareness and choice through tuning into various levels of inquiry in the midst of action. Basically, we are talking about taking a systems approach to life where we have practices that give us access to better quality feedback. This is the essence of the book.
Based on years of observation in the field, Bill Torbert and his associates successfully describe how to develop awareness and structurally explain the importance of single-loop feedback ( Behaviours/ operations), second-loop feedback (strategies/structures/goals), and triple-loop feedback (Attention/intention/ vision)and its application in the four territories of experience; namely: (a) outside events, (b) our own sense of performance, (c) our schemes, games and frequent ways of reflecting, and (d) presencing awareness or what he calls Intentional Attention.
I would suggest reading Gregersen's (INSEAD) book: "it starts with one" where the three reasons people and organizations fail to change are revealed. Action Inquiry helps readers understand the importance of developing personal awareness if what is intended is to overcome the fear to see the need to change.
A book that invites readers to develop the courage to face the truth of what is taking place in your world as a preliminary step in your own transformation.
I well written book that requires slow reading as to integrate the many ideas, models and approaches this scholarly work offers.
It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations
1) It focuses on individuals, rather than "Leaders". Therefore, you don't need to already be a senior manager, a director, a partner, a VP, etc. to put these actions into place. You just need to focus on your own behavior and how you react to challenges.
2) It explicitly recognizes the fact that most of us go through life spending a large amount of time on "auto-pilot", not really thinking about how we interpret situations and react to them (never mind thinking about how our reactions are going to be interpreted by others!). Therefore, the basic premise that "every action is an inquiry, and every inquiry is an action" will be a challenge for most of us. However if this challenge is taken up, it will be incredibly powerful.
3) It focuses on simple human behaviors/cognitions that we have control over. It doesn't start with the premise that you can generate a jillion dollars worth of revenue for a massive organizational change effort. It starts with the premise that you have control over your brain and consequently how you interpret and react to situations. Therefore, the advice given here is highly actionable.
A great developmental opportunity awaits you!