What We’re Reading: Edgar Schein’s Humble Inquiry

March 28, 2017

We are rereading Edgar Schein’s “Humble Inquiry.” Schein asks, “Why is it so important to learn to ask better questions that help to build positive relationship?” And he goes on to answer: “Because in an increasingly complex, interdependent, and culturally diverse word, we cannot hope to understand and work with people from different occupational, professional, and national cultures if we do not know how to ask questions and build relationships that are based on mutual respect and the recognition that others know things that we may need to know in order to get a job done.” One of the six core principles of improvement states, “Make the work problem-specific and user-centered. It starts with a single question: ‘What specifically is the problem we are trying to solve?’ It enlivens a co-development orientation: engage key participants early and often.” In education improvement, those who are most equipped to solve the problem are those who experience it. Those are the key participants who understand the problem deeply and who will offer insight into improvement hypotheses.