This worldwide bestseller offers simple guidance for building the kind of open and trusting relationships vital for tackling global systemic challenges and developing adaptive, innovative organizations—over 200,000 copies sold and translated into seventeen languages!We live, say Edgar and Peter Schein, in a culture of “tell.” All too often we tell others what we think they need to know or should do. But whether we are leading or following, what matters most is we get to the truth. We have to develop a commitment to sharing vital facts and identifying faulty assumptions—it can mean the difference between success and failure. This is why we need Humble Inquiry more than ever. The Scheins define Humble Inquiry as “the gentle art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building relationships based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” It was inspired by Edgar’s twenty years of work in high-hazard industries and the health-care system, where honest communication can literally mean the difference between life and death.In this new edition the authors look at how Humble Inquiry differs from other kinds of inquiry, offer examples of it in action, and show how to overcome the barriers that keep us telling when we should be asking. This edition offers a deepening and broadening of this concept, seeing it as not just a way of posing questions but an entire attitude that includes better listening, better responding to what others are trying to tell us, and better revealing of ourselves. Packed with case examples and a full chapter of exercises and simulations, this is a major contribution to how we see human conversational dynamics and relationships, presented in a compact, personal, and eminently practical way.
Edgar H. Schein
February 23, 2021
File Size: 82 MB
Available File Formats: PDF AZW3 DOCX EPUB MOBI TXT or Kindle audiobook Audio CD(Several files can be converted to each other)
Language: English, Francais, Italiano, Espanol, Deutsch, chinese
“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“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“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 “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 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. <div id="
Valuable advise – This is one of those books that have you go nodding in agreement about how valuable its simple message is. Humble Inquiry is very relevant in the information age, not just for executives but especially for those in strategic product and program leadership roles. Design thinking relies on humble inquiry. This is a book that should be updated for the post IT revolution age.The challenge with the book is that it relies more on anecdotes and offers little in the form of a structured plan. If you read this book expecting some sort of framework or plan to strengthen your humble inquiry muscle, you’ll be a bit disappointed. It seems that Edgar’s videos are far more effective at communicating his message – The book would have benefitted from more crisp editing and structure. In some sense, I think the book will benefit from talking the author’s advise and structuring around the ‘Ask don’t tell’ model ..maybe a workbook structure that walked you through questions and then anecdotes to make specific points , will work better.
Schein hits a lot of points in only 110 pages, but you will need to go elsewhere for depth. I got more out of his video interview (link listed below).If you’ve done any reading on getting beyond ego, conflict resolution, or non-violent communication, much of the material in this book won’t be new to you. For example, Schein describes the need for an attitude of genuine interest and curiosity, and describes ways to develop that attitude (e.g., reflection, mindfulness, artistic endeavors, building relationships). He discusses the importance of relationships, trust, vulnerability, and understanding feelings rather than suppressing them.What I found most interesting was his description of U.S. and management cultures, and the consequences they produce. He describes our culture as individualistic, competitive, optimistic, and pragmatic. Though we often espouse teamwork, in actuality we reward individualism. Overlain on that is our “culture of tell” – managers are supposed to know what to do, not ask questions. And subordinates often don’t feel safe enough to speak up, so critical information gets withheld.If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend this video interview with Schein on Culture, Leadership, & Humble Inquiry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MwebWXtKBsThe first 12 ½ minutes were the most interesting to me. Schein talks about why upward communication is faulty and how that can yield safety problems, why employees should be treated like human beings, why the culture of “tell” doesn’t work in a complex environment, and why managers should aim to be the orchestrator and not the “boss”.
Humble Inquiry provides a consistent layout of explaining the what, when, why, and how. Your journey through the pages is a walk through your professional decisions, life experiences, and the relationships you have. Each chapter is followed with a conclusion to help you gather thoughts, exercises scattered in to reinforce the learning, and as the book concludes, an opportunity to reflect further.My favorite part is a question posed within the book (I have several). “Do you agree that the Humble Inquiry mindset takes us from an old way-fitting what is going on into our existing models-to a new way of learning what is really going on?”Pick up this book to read and discover!
“Humble Inquiry is the skill and the art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person”. (p 21)Schein clearly articulates the many benefits of his “Humble Inquiry” method through relational examples and situational application across disciplines. To start, he defines what exactly “Humble Inquiry” is, the art of asking with “here and now humility” instead of telling in relationships. Schein defines three types of humility: basic humility, optional humility, and here and now humility. The other key facet of this perspective is the inquiry aspect. Schein insists that inquiry is both “an art and a science”. While inquiry and question formulation has been thoroughly researched, daily it is often overlooked within human interaction.Throughout the book, Schein provides examples of opportunities for “Humble Inquiry”, as well as missed opportunities. Through personal life examples in the text, we can see that “what we ask, how we ask it, where we ask it, and when we ask it all matter” (pg. 19). Whether the situation is peer to peer, professor to student, CEO to Human Resources, or oncologist to patient, relationships are strengthened through humble inquiry. This tactic of building relationships increases trust amongst individuals.Schein’s writing style is simple enough for anyone to grasp the concept of the “Humble Inquiry”. He uses many examples throughout the novel to help bolster his argument. These examples show how a conversation can change for the better by using the “Humble Inquiry” outlook. Additionally, by contrasting Humble Inquiry with other kinds of inquiry, Schein can further convey the benefits of humble inquiry in a variety of different settings.By conveying the message that the “Humble Inquiry” is an attitude, Schein suggests that this concept is a lifestyle change. A change that will help build relationships and create a more thoughtful and productive work environment. Schein conveys the point that by “telling”, we suggest that the other person did not know what we are trying to tell them. Instead, by “asking”, we can communicate the same message while empowering the other person by making it seem as if they assisted in reaching the proposed verdict or conclusion. Schein proposes that everyone, not just managers and executives, take on this attitude. His “Ask don’t tell” model can be just as beneficial to subordinates as it can be to leaders Schein also gives practical advice on developing the attitude of Humble Inquiry in three main domains: 1) Personal life, to enable dealing with increasing culture diversity; 2) Organizations, to identify needs for collaboration among interdependent work units and to facilitate such collaboration; and 3) Role as leader or manager, to create the relationships and the climate to promote open communication needed for effective task performance (pg. 99).In summary, Schein’s ability to express the benefits of the “Humble Inquiry” makes the read very worthwhile. Any workplace can use the “Humble Inquiry” to increase trust, inspire coworkers, and create stronger bonds with each other. In his final thought, Schein, explains that we will all find ourselves from time to time “in situations that require innovation and some risk taking.” (pg 110) It is in these moments that Schein challenges us to “not succumb to telling, but to take charge with Humble Inquiry.” (pg. 110). In a modern workplace culture where “tell”, not ask is all too often the norm, Schein’s book would be a fantastic resource for any company or individual that wants to take their relationships and organization to the next level.
I rather liked this little book. I’ve been a fan of Schein’s thinking for a long time, since I was first introduced to his ideas on Process Consulting when I was a junior management consultant, (I know, we all have things in our pasts that are embarrassing!).This is a very easy read with deceptively simple advice, but summarises decades of experience on what really brings people and teams together, and what avoids the significant problems that result from a failure of people to effectively communicate.It is aimed at the American market, and most of the examples are about the way Americans tend to interact. It is particularly good in explaining how individualism and the competitive spirit can get in the way of effective communications. But before others get too self-assured that the problems explained here are unique to the USA, its worth a little humility and willingness to be open to the ideas. They are simple, but profound and I suspect universally applicable.
This short book is a very good examination of the interpersonal and cultural dynamics at work in organizations and families: the balance between individual success and healthy team dynamics. It is exclusively about American practice. I found it transferable to the UK workplace, but may not apply to other cultures. Worth reading, but probably less so if you have already read a lot about coaching and/ or mindfulness.
I’m a long-term fan of Edgar Schein and this is a welcome addition to his body of work.He always writes in a very human and simple way. I think it takes courage to write simply, as it can sound obvious and …”surely everyone knows that.” But the areas where Schein works – teams, social dynamics and self-reflection – these are highly complex and ambiguous domains. He brings en beautiful clarity, which I always appreciate.This book is worth your time and money for numerous reasons. For me, the key point was a continuation of his work around Process Consultation and how to give and take advice.Thoroughly recommended.
Edgar ain’t half clever. Far smarter than I’ll ever be, but if your audience is your average Jo/ Joe, then you might find this a little slow and want it to get to the punch-line quicker.In summary, you’ve got two ears and one mouth – use them in that order by asking question, then shut-up and see what the others have to say.
A profound must-read for any changemaker seeking to create or transform in a more inclusive, sustainable and powerful way.A delightful, masterly guide on how to engage, connect and collaborate with others in a more meaningful way for both parties.
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