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4.3 out of 5 stars18
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 7 August 2014
Ed Schein is as close to a hero as I have - I have always found his insights into organisational change to be very telling. What a shame that I found myself slightly disappointed by his latest offering, which is to do with interpersonal relationships at work and a 'new' (that's what he thinks anyway!) approach to the topic.

His basic premise seems to be that our existing preconceptions/biases/prejudices (choose your word) about how verbal interactions happen between people are almost fatally flawed by existing cultural norms. Norms that operate within cultures and, to add a further level of complexity, differ between cultures. So, the subordinate black African neither disagrees with his superior nor looks her in the eye when talking - the former a widespread norm, the latter a clach between White Western and Black African norms.
The essence of 'Humble' Enquiry is offered as being to do with attitude rather than process - an attitude of genuine interest rather than one of 'going through the motions' or asking questions to which one already thinks one knows the answer, or not really being interested in the answer anyway.
He illustrates the problems caused by our default approach with examples such as the problems caused by power distinctions between airline flight crew causing crashes (because the subordinate co-pilot would not even speak up to his superior about problems that she could see coming but maybe the pilot had missed) or operating theatre staff who can also get into problems through power differences inhibiting essential communication - and others. None of the examples are new, and I have to say that I don't see the basic concept of asking a question with a genuine desire to know the answer new either.
The book has a feel to me of "What can I write this year's book about" rather than some of the groundbreaking stuff from earlier in his career. I might just about be able to suggest it to an up and coming leader, and it would come with a warning about repetitiveness and sometimes artificial categorisations.
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on 21 November 2014
This is an enjoyable, if brief, read. The message is clear and simple.

I give it only 3 stars. Firstly there is a lot of repetition. Secondly the examples given are limited and somewhat shallow: specifically they never go further than simple interactions. I had hoped for some insight into maintaining a humble inquiring attitude, and getting results, in situations where the people I'm working with are not of a similar attitude, or where the matter under consideration is inherently complex.
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on 19 April 2014
The message of the book is simple but extremely powerful. We all think we know how to ask the right questions but this book gently challenges to analyse your own approach and to my mind helps you to realise where you can improve. Very enjoyable
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on 30 March 2014
An elegant and straight forward guide to a skill we should all aspire to master, not just for business but for everyday life
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on 5 May 2016
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.
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on 12 June 2015
I can understand people being threatened and criticising this book. However, I think it may be beyond some people to appreciate such a great piece of work. The insight of Humble Inquiry may seem not that new but are vital and believe so important. I for one love a book that contains truth rather than plain old information . Truth is subjective but I get totally what this book is saying and this is helpful to get understanding of a concept that can change the wAy I do consultation
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on 21 July 2014
I have to confess I haven't read all of this book - I returned it because I found the examples patronising, unhelpful and surprisingly narrow-minded.
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on 6 November 2014
This book draws on many strands of research from a wide range of disciplines, to suggest a philosophy for creation and sustaining better relationships in all aspects of our lives. I cannot recommend it too highly.
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on 15 June 2014
A simple, clear and well articulated key message. We can all benefit from increasing our use of genuine authentic non-judgemental questioning.
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Thought provoking, insightful. The book encourages you to reflect on your own questioning practice and gives some clarity to the expression 'asking the right questions'.
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