- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 3 hours and 30 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 23 July 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00M1FR8LG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.
While the principle of leading through questions rather than via direct orders is not new, I find Schein does an excellent job of presenting the topic in a compelling, easy to follow way and that the format is well chosen to help leaders in reflecting on and subsequently altering their behaviour.
Some additional humility and curiosity (instead of a know it all attitude) would certainly be very welcome in many of today's companies, so the book is timely, even if the concepts within are anything but new.