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Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Paperback – September 2, 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 791 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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

“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 Inquiry 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

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.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1st edition (September 2, 2013)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 144 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1609949811
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1609949815
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.44 x 0.41 x 8.45 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 791 ratings

About the author

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Ed Schein is Professor Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management. He was educated at the University of Chicago, Stanford University, and Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology. He worked at the Walter Reed Institute of Research for four years and then joined MIT, where he taught until 2005. He has published extensively-- _Organizational Psychology_, 3d Ed. (1980), _Process Consultation Revisited_ (1999), career dynamics (_Career Anchors_, 4th ed. With John Van Maanen, 2013), _Organizational Culture and Leadership_, 5th Ed. (2016), _The Corporate Culture Survival Guide_, 2d Ed., (2009), a cultural analysis of Singapore's economic miracle (_Strategic Pragmatism_, 1996), and Digital Equipment Corp.'s rise and fall (_DEC is Dead; Long Live DEC_, 2003).

In 2009 he published _Helping_, a book on the general theory and practice of giving and receiving help followed in 2013 by _Humble Inquiry_ which explores why helping is so difficult in western culture, and which won the 2013 business book of the year award from the Dept. of Leadership of San Diego University. In Spring 2016, Ed released _Humble Consulting_ which revises the whole model of how to consult and coach.

Ed's latest release, co-authored with his son Peter A. Schein, is _Humble Leadership_ which proposes a new way of thinking about leadership based on relationships, openness and trust, challenging traditional notions of hierarchy, "professional distance" and transactional leadership.

Ed and Peter continue to consult with various local and international organizations on a variety of organizational culture and career development issues, with special emphasis on safety and quality in health care, the nuclear energy industry, and the US Forest Service. An important focus of this new consulting is to focus on the interaction of occupational/organizational subcultures and how they interact with career anchors to determine the effectiveness and safety of organizations.

Ed Schein is the 2009 recipient of the Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award of the Academy of Management, the 2012 recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award from the International Leadership Association, the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in Organization Development from the International OD Network, and has an Honorary Doctorate from the IEDC Bled School of Management in Slovenia.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
791 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

Richard J. Newton
4.0 out of 5 stars likeable simple, but powerful, advice
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 29, 2020
Cherub
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and short
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2021
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Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully simple
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2016
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J. Baker
3.0 out of 5 stars If listening isn’t a strong point, and to like the sound of your own voice - but this.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2018
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Andy Green
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read - in my humble opinion
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2018
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