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on 28 July 2017
I enjoyed this a lot, but having been through many programmes on coaching etc didn't find there was much to inspire. It did however make me reflect on whether my intentions always came from a humble enquiry perspective!
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Must read for any managers, especially from a public sector bureaucratic mindset!
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on 22 February 2016
a very insightful piece of writing, which should be a read by all professionals who help and support other people
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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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 February 2017
Humble Inquiry is one of Schein's later works and unlike his seminal Organizational Culture and Leadership (The Jossey-Bass Business & Management Series) it is quite a compact and very easy to digest book. It focuses on one topic only, namely the art of leading through asking questions - specifically of the humble inquiry form.

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.
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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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