Edgar H. Schein
Adrienne Davis, 21/64 Certified Advisor, Partner, MGD Law LLC
Writing a book review to tell you about Ed Schein’s powerful 110 page book Humble Inquiry on the topic of importance of “asking,” instead of “telling,” feels a little like I missed the point of the book! Nevertheless, as I read through the text, the type of book that could be picked up and put down over a series of weeks, or blasted through in one sitting on an airplane ride, I felt myself thinking, “Yes! Yes! I do this! We all do this!”
Whether you are a professional who cares about improving your communication with your clients and colleagues, or you are a “just the facts” data lover who wants to obtain better data from your clients to produce better work, you will find valuable insights and practical applications in Humble Inquiry.
The book asks the reader to consider:
- We live in a culture of “do and tell” rather than “listen and build relationships.”
- As Americans, we live a paradox of saying that we value teamwork while clinging to reward systems that reward individuals.
- We want it to be “worthwhile” to listen or else listening feels like we are wasting our time.
The book suggests:
- We must do more asking and less telling.
- Asking requires vulnerability.
- Leaders can take concrete steps to kick off creating a culture of humble inquiry – asking, not telling.
I was struck by an anecdote on page 36, where Schein described how surprised he was at how quickly humble inquiry created a comfortable relationship between a doctor and patient, and also how quickly the absence of humble inquiry created anxiety between a doctor and patient. If this is true, then the tools described in Humble Inquiry should be easy to test quickly.
We know artificial intelligence is about to revolutionize all areas of work previously thought to be occupied only by the most intelligent and highly educated professionals. What will separate the highly educated professionals from the robots? Will it be our ability to adopt superior methods of relationship-building with our colleagues and our clients to produce better communication and better results. Humble Inquiry is an easy and thoughtful read to advance that initiative.