Action Inquiry

The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership

William Torbert (Author)

Publication date: 06/09/2004

Action Inquiry
  • Offers a powerful method that leaders in organizations of all types can use to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of their actions
  • Provides numerous real-world examples of action inquiry in action
  • Includes exercises individuals and organizations can use to begin practicing action inquiry

Bill Torbert and associates illustrate how individuals and organizations can progress through more and more sophisticated "action-logics" -- strategies for analyzing the world and reacting to it -- until they will eventually be able to practice action inquiry continually. Offering action inquiry exercises at the end of the chapters, the book moves from junior managers beginning to practice action inquiry through CEO's transforming whole companies, to world leaders transforming whole countries, as exemplified by Czech president Vaclav Havel. Through short stories of leadership and organizational transformations, this groundbreaking book illustrates how action inquiry increases personal integrity, relational mutuality, company profitability, and long-term organizational and environmental sustainability.

  • Offers a powerful method that leaders in organizations of all types can use to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of their actions
  • Provides numerous real-world examples of action inquiry in action
  • Includes exercises individuals and organizations can use to begin practicing action inquiry

Bill Torbert and associates illustrate how individuals and organizations can progress through more and more sophisticated "action-logics" -- strategies for analyzing the world and reacting to it -- until they will eventually be able to practice action inquiry continually. Offering action inquiry exercises at the end of the chapters, the book moves from junior managers beginning to practice action inquiry through CEO's transforming whole companies, to world leaders transforming whole countries, as exemplified by Czech president Vaclav Havel. Through short stories of leadership and organizational transformations, this groundbreaking book illustrates how action inquiry increases personal integrity, relational mutuality, company profitability, and long-term organizational and environmental sustainability.

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt


PDF eBook:
9781605096339

$30.95
(member price: $21.67)

Other Available Formats and Editions

$30.95 (member price: $21.67)

9781605096346


$30.95 (member price: $27.86)

9781576752647



Bulk Discounts
Rights Information


Featured Books



More About This Product

Overview

  • Offers a powerful method that leaders in organizations of all types can use to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of their actions
  • Provides numerous real-world examples of action inquiry in action
  • Includes exercises individuals and organizations can use to begin practicing action inquiry

Bill Torbert and associates illustrate how individuals and organizations can progress through more and more sophisticated "action-logics" -- strategies for analyzing the world and reacting to it -- until they will eventually be able to practice action inquiry continually. Offering action inquiry exercises at the end of the chapters, the book moves from junior managers beginning to practice action inquiry through CEO's transforming whole companies, to world leaders transforming whole countries, as exemplified by Czech president Vaclav Havel. Through short stories of leadership and organizational transformations, this groundbreaking book illustrates how action inquiry increases personal integrity, relational mutuality, company profitability, and long-term organizational and environmental sustainability.

  • Offers a powerful method that leaders in organizations of all types can use to increase the timeliness and effectiveness of their actions
  • Provides numerous real-world examples of action inquiry in action
  • Includes exercises individuals and organizations can use to begin practicing action inquiry

Bill Torbert and associates illustrate how individuals and organizations can progress through more and more sophisticated "action-logics" -- strategies for analyzing the world and reacting to it -- until they will eventually be able to practice action inquiry continually. Offering action inquiry exercises at the end of the chapters, the book moves from junior managers beginning to practice action inquiry through CEO's transforming whole companies, to world leaders transforming whole countries, as exemplified by Czech president Vaclav Havel. Through short stories of leadership and organizational transformations, this groundbreaking book illustrates how action inquiry increases personal integrity, relational mutuality, company profitability, and long-term organizational and environmental sustainability.

Back to Top ↑

Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - William Torbert

Having received both his BA in Politics and Economics and his PhD in Individual and Organizational Behavior from Yale, Bill served as Founder and Director of both the War on Poverty Yale Upward Bound Program and the Theatre of Inquiry. He also taught leadership at Southern Methodist University, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and then, from 1978-2008 at the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College, where he also served as Graduate Dean (the BC MBA program’s ranking rising from below the top 100 to #25 during his tenure) and later served as Director of the Organizational Transformation Doctoral Program.

In addition to consulting to dozens of companies, not-for-profits, and governmental agencies, Torbert has served on numerous Boards, notably at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care when it was rated the #1 HMO nationally in the US; and, for twenty years, at Trillium Asset Management, the original and largest independent Socially Responsible Investing firm… founded by Bill’s friend Joan Bavaria… a rare CEO who was at once visionary, strategic, executive, and also truly collaborative.

As of 2014, Bill serves as a Principal of Action Inquiry Associates and as a founding member of the Action Inquiry Fellowship.

Back to Top ↑


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Promise and the Power of Action Inquiry

Part One: Learning Action Inquiry Leadership Skills

Chapter 1: Fundamentals of Action Inquiry

Chapter 2: Action Inquiry as a Manner of Speaking

Chapter 3: Action Inquiry as a Way of Organizing

Interlude: Action Inquiry - The Idea and the Experience

Part Two: Transforming Leadership

Chapter 4: The Opportunist and The Diplomat

Chapter 5: The Expert and The Achiever

Chapter 6: The Individualist Action-Logic

Chapter 7: The Strategist Action-Logic

Part Three: Transforming Organizations

Chapter 8: Transforming Meetings, Teams, and Organizations

Chapter 9: Facilitating Organizational Transformations

Chapter 10: The Social Network Organization and Transformation

Chapter 11: The Quintessence of Collaborative Inquiry

Part Four: The Ultimate Spiritual and Societal Intent of Action Inquiry

Chapter 12: The Fresh Action Awareness of Alchemists

Chapter 13: Creating Foundational Communities of Inquiry

Appendix: Concluding Scientific Postscript Methods of Inquiry

Bibliography

Index

Back to Top ↑

Excerpt

Action Inquiry

ONE
Fundamentals of Action Inquiry

By “action inquiry,” we mean a kind of behavior that is simultaneously productive and self-assessing. Action inquiry is behavior that does several things at once. It listens into the developing situation. It accomplishes whatever tasks appear to have priority. And it invites a revisioning of the task (and of our own action!) if necessary. Action inquiry is always a timely discipline to exercise because its purpose is always in part to discover, whether coldly and precisely or warmly and stumblingly, what action is timely.

These sentences are easy enough to read and to write, and they make action inquiry seem obviously worthwhile. When don’t you want to act in a timely fashion? Yet action inquiry is also the hardest thing in the world to do on a continuing basis (at least so it feels to some of us who’ve been working and playing with it for three or four decades). The difficulty arises partly because of the unusual degrees of awareness of the present situation that high quality action inquiry requires. The difficulty arises partly because of the many different and potentially conflicting political pressures and standards of timeliness that may be at play in a given situation. And the difficulty arises partly because of how hard it is to develop a taste for making ourselves vulnerable to change at the very moment when we are also trying to get something done.

A small example of action inquiry may seem ridiculously simple. Here is a company president speaking by phone to her special assistant:

“I’m assuming you are handling the Jones contract. Let me know if you need assistance.”

The president makes her assumption explicit and advocates that the special assistant seek her support, if necessary, to assure the job gets done. The assistant may say, “What? I’ve never heard of the Jones contract.” Or, “I thought Paul was taking care of that.” Or whatever the truth is, if it is incongruent with the president’s explicitly stated assumption and offer of assistance. Many of the day-to-day frustrations of work life can be avoided by such brief assumption-testing action inquiries.

But even such obvious types of checking and inquiry as this president displays are rare in business, professional, and familial conversations. Consider the recent simulated operating room study of medical residents receiving training on how to avoid errors (Rudolph 2003). This study shows that in over 4,000 comments by the lead physician during simulated operating crises, only three combined some direction about what to attend to with an inquiry about what the assistant was learning. This small number occurred in spite of the fact that half of these young doctors were trained in a specific method for inquiring in the midst of action only minutes before the simulation. Yet their much more deeply internalized need to appear independent, competent, and knowledgeable interfered with showing the vulnerability necessary to learn the data that can prevent error (as a number of them acknowledged in postscenario interviews).

A shift in awareness is needed, a shift to a kind of awareness that shows us the opportunity to make a comment like the president’s. This kind of awareness transcends the sort of implicit self-image that prevents medical residents from seeking colleagues’ help in the operating room and instead attends responsively to the real need both the patient and we have for help. What is this awareness? How can we gain access to it in a timely way?


The Underwater Pipeline Project Manager


For some clues, let’s listen in as Steve Thompson, a highly competent and well-paid manager, reconstructs a confrontation with his boss, Ron Cedrick. Steve’s team is laying underwater pipeline when a storm begins to blow around their North Sea platform.

British National Oil Company had contracted with Ron Cedrick to construct and install its “single anchor leg mooring system” that can fill oil tankers at sea, eliminating the need for hundreds of miles of pipeline from the offshore oil fields. The initial underwater construction had been completed in a picturesque and protected Norwegian fjord. But we were now saturation diving for 8- to 12-hour periods from aboard a 600-foot derrick ship in the February North Sea, which can be unpredictably violent.


The most critical part of this dangerous procedure is the launch and recovery of the six-man bell through the “interface”—the wave-affected first 25 feet below the ocean surface. Rough seas have separated more than one diving bell from its winch. When this happens, there is little hope of returning the divers alive.


It was my first job as project manager, so it was of particular importance to me that the crew was doing an outstanding job and Cedrick was extremely pleased with our performance. Famously aloof, Cedrick wore a shiny gold metal hard hat. And, no matter how difficult, his projects always came in ahead of schedule.


The bell had just gone into the water for an anticipated 12-hour run when the wind changed direction and was coming at us from the same direction as the moderate swell, just as it does before it really blows. I alerted the shift supervisor to keep an eye on the weather and went up to the bridge for a look at the most recent forecast and facsimile, which confirmed my suspicions.


Just then, Cedrick came up to me, “I personally appreciate the fine job you and your boys are doing and I know it’ll continue. I know the weather’s getting up a bit, but we have to complete the flowline connection today to stay ahead, so we need to keep that bell in the water as long as we can before we let a little ole weather shut us down. I’ve seen the respect those boys have for you and I know they’ll do what you ask.”


“Yes, sir” I responded confidently. What was going on inside me at that moment sounded different, though. The moment I reviewed the weather on the bridge, I became tense with fear. I was afraid I wouldn’t have the strength of character to shut down the operation in the face of my overwhelming desire to succeed objectively and in Cedrick’s eyes. I was also afraid I would have to deceive my people into thinking that pushing our operating limits was justified.


The outcome was all too predictable. I kept the bell in the water too long. The weather blew a gale. The recovery of the bell through 20-foot seas was perilous. I compromised the safety of the divers and set a poor precedent for the permissible operating parameters. I received no satisfaction from the major bonus Cedrick gave me for “pulling it off”—we did complete the flowline connection. Inside me, the awareness that I had manipulated and jeopardized the safety of my fellow workers galled my illusion that I was an honest, ethical man.

After the emergency was over and the mission successfully accomplished, Steve Thompson could simply have congratulated himself for getting the job done in the face of significant obstacles and for winning the praise of his superior. Instead, his awareness was alert and vulnerable in a way that revealed a serious weakness of character to him that few have the strength of character to face. He became aware of a serious incongruity between his espoused or proclaimed values and his actual actions.

We were led into the Steve Thompson story by two questions about the kind of awareness associated with action inquiry. What is this kind of awareness that transcends all our implicit self-images that cramp awareness and prevent us from acting with integrity, mutuality, justice, and inquiry? And how can this kind of awareness be accessed in a timely way even in an emergency?

The case itself shows us no positive answer to these two questions. Steve did not display such awareness during his encounter with Cedrick, nor in the action-packed hours that followed. He got the job done and the divers out safely, despite the turmoil and danger. The story illustrates a type of awareness in action that puts action first and inquiry later, or not at all. Steve has a well-honed awareness of how to adjust himself and his team behaviorally from minute to minute to changing conditions. In engineering and social systems theory, we call that a high reliability capacity for digesting and learning from single-loop feedback (information that tells me whether or not my last move advanced me toward the goal). Reliable single-loop learning is critical for reaching goals efficiently and effectively, and Steve obviously demonstrated this quality of awareness in this case.

By the end of his experience, Steve also demonstrates a second quality of awareness that is much more difficult to describe. It seems something like an awareness that transcends one’s self-image, since he sees his “illusion” about himself “destroyed.” But it is not yet an empowering awareness that allows him in the midst of the turmoil to see a leadership initiative that generates greater legitimacy as well as efficiency and effectiveness.

Let us review more closely what happens in Steve Thompson’s experience. At a certain specific moment, he becomes aware that there is a significant disharmony among several of the personal forces that motivate him. There’s his desire to please his boss, innocent and constructive enough in itself, you might ordinarily think. Then there’s his desire to perform efficiently and effectively, ordinarily considered the most constructive of inclinations in a work setting. Thirdly, there’s his desire to deserve his team’s respect by holding their well-being uppermost. Finally, there’s his self-image as an honest, ethical man.

These four good chunks of Steve’s soul find themselves in a new and stormy juxtaposition to one another during the outer storm in the North Sea. He reports his inner experience as “tense with fear” and “galling.” He describes the outcome as the “destruction” of his “illusion” that he is honest and ethical.

But just a minute—what is really going on here? Is that self-image really an illusion? Isn’t Steve’s story to himself at the time and when he later writes it up the very essence of honesty? Isn’t the whole reflective process that he chooses to engage in afterwards the very essence of ethical inquiry? How else may we develop true, ethical integrity except by the compassionate, unsparing observation of our lack of integrity?

By receiving feedback and reflecting on what he wrote, Steve gradually realized that yes, of course, he possessed a real, and a real strong, ethical concern. Indeed, this concern was motivating his entire self-criticism. He came to realize that two subtle qualities pushed him out of shape at the time of the storm, one by its presence and one by its absence. The quality whose presence pushed him out of shape was Cedrick’s clever use of multiple types of power (his legitimate and potentially unilateral power as a superior; his authority and fame as an expert in his craft; and the sheer seductive, man-to-man power of his down-home-Texas-macho talk about “a little ole weather”). At the time of the storm, Steve could feel the effect of Cedrick’s use of power on himself, and he could feel the implicit illegitimacy of the pressure. At the same time, however, he could not name what was happening to him, nor imagine a way to defang it. This happens to a lot of us, if not all of us: When certain types of power are directed toward us, we become stunned or hypnotized, unable to articulate to ourselves what is happening to us, and unable to take creative action in response.

The quality whose absence pushed Thompson out of shape was a kind of attention or vision that can impartially observe both the storm going on outside us and the storm going on within, which we can call super-vision.


Single-, Double-, and Triple-Loop Awareness


Systems theory offers a framework for naming and understanding supervision (Deutsch 1966; Torbert 1973). In systems theory terms, during his crisis with Cedrick and the weather in the North Sea, Steve successfully dealt with single-loop feedback. He adjusted his behavior throughout the storm in such a way that the men below were recovered safely. But he also experienced a jolt of double-loop feedback that he couldn’t fully digest. He knew vaguely that this feedback required him to transform his structure or strategy, not just amend his behavior. We might say he needed to clarify that when the goals of efficiency, effectiveness, and legitimacy clash in a situation, legitimacy usually deserves to come first, effectiveness second, and efficiency third (because in the longer run, efficiency is only sustainable if it leads to effectiveness and effectiveness is only sustainable if it leads to legitimacy). We might also say that Steve needed to learn that when the existing authority structure (Cedrick, in this case) uses power in a way that threatens the legitimacy of the enterprise, a counterinitiative based on a kind of transforming power that enhances mutuality is called for.

But the very notion of transforming power that enhances mutuality is unfamiliar to most people, so it is not surprising that it was unfamiliar to Steve. Moreover, most of us treat our current structure, strategy, or action-logic as our very identity. To accept double-loop feedback can feel equivalent to losing our very identity. We will tend to resist that, unless and until we feel a still deeper spiritual presence within us that allows us to continue to feel ourselves as ourselves even as we try different roles, or masks, or strategies. This deeper spiritual presence or super-vision is not based on a self-image, but rather on experiencing the actual exchange occurring among the four territories of our experience—our attention, our strategies, our actions, and our outcomes. In systems theory, this is called triple-loop feedback because, as shown in Figure 1.1, it highlights the present relationship between our effects in the outside world and (1) our action, (2) our strategy, and (3) our attention itself. Triple-loop feedback makes us present to ourselves now. (When Thoreau said he’d never met a man who was quite awake, we think he meant he’d never met a man continually present to himself in this way.)

By role-playing alternative actions he might have taken in a training setting, Steve gradually realized that he needed to listen into, but not identify with, many other aspects of the situation of which he’d been implicitly aware at the time. At first, he thought the only alternative was to have disagreed with Cedrick in a direct confrontation instead of saying “Yes, sir.” But he hadn’t been completely confident that he would have to bring the team up early at that point, even though the weather report was worrisome. So why risk confronting the boss then?

Figure 1.1 Single-, Double-, and Triple-Loop Feedback Within a Given Person’s Awareness

image

A simple third alternative, which he next enacted, would have been to respond to Cedrick exactly as he did at the time, but then bring the bell out of the water earlier. In reflection, he realized that, to respond to the real situation in a timely fashion, his awareness at the time would have to have been able to embrace several disharmonious systems of energy—the actual external weather system, the team diving system, Cedric’s psychological system, and his own psychological system. For example, his awareness would have to have been able to embrace Cedrick’s very real compliment about how well the men thought of Thompson (not just its manipulative context) and to remember and feel clearly at that time his own usual sense of himself—that others’ respect for him was based on his professional good judgment, not on being a daredevil or a servile, easily manipulated conformist. In other words, to respond to Cedrick exactly as he did at the time, but then bring the bell out of the water earlier, he would have had to feel as he was beginning to feel during the role play—that his power and Cedrick’s power could mutually balance and enhance one another, like the balance of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government.

This power to balance goal-oriented action with inquiry about the goal, in such a way as to also balance the influence of different participants, was illustrated even more explicitly in the third role play that Steve simultaneously invented and produced as he tried to exercise in-the-moment super-vision. “I’m not sure how much is at stake for you or the company in completing this ahead of schedule,” he began tentatively, inquiringly. When the person playing Cedrick in the role play did not answer during a brief pause, Steve continued, “We certainly can leave her down a while, but I’m not sure we’ll be able to finish. The boys know I’ll push them, but they also know I won’t endanger lives. Do you want to stay up here with me to monitor the situation, or do you want me to continue on my own judgment?” Here, Thompson invites Cedrick to legitimize his “ahead of schedule” goals, counterposes it against the good of the divers (another legitimate reality in the situation), and invites Cedrick to have as much influence as he wishes on the unfolding situation, while clarifying Steve’s own priorities (including his lack of competitive desire to seize power from Cedrick).

What Steve began to appreciate through these role plays was that he could actively cultivate, not just single-loop learning of new actions to achieve someone else’s goals, nor just double-loop learning of new strategies and new goals to fulfill an intuitive vision. Now he found himself engaging in triple-loop learning that intentionally cultivates ongoing super-vision. Super-vision is the quality of awareness that briefly witnessed the disharmony in Steve’s soul during the original situation. Flashes of super-vision occur in us so briefly that we often fail to name, digest, or remember them. Had Steve originally been able to tolerate observing the disharmony in his soul and in the wider situation further at the time of the emergency—had he continued exercising super-vision instead of mentally judging himself as irredeemably unethical—that heightened awareness might have made it possible for him to act differently at the time.

Where did these after-the-action awareness experiments during his role plays actually lead Steve? Within months of writing about the incident and doing the role plays, his colleagues were describing him as “a changed man.” He was no longer merely a technical ace, in the image of Cedrick, who pushed himself and everyone else to the limit on particular jobs. Steve was now seen, not only as highly energetic and reliable within the boundaries of his assigned authority, but also as a broad-visioned, trustworthy, balanced, and concerned leader on a wider scale. As he emerged from the executive program in which he’d done the writing and the role plays just described, Steve received an offer to join the top management and board of the company, leapfrogging Cedrick, and more than doubling his previous salary.

That is not all. His learning did not promote only his self-interest. Three years later, Steve became president of a competing company. In his new role, he immediately saw an opportunity for corporate action inquiry. His new company had recently lost a major client. Rather than assuming that this was an unalterable event and perhaps feeling superior to his predecessor (certain that he, Steve, would never let a big one get away like that), Steve personally called the CEO of the erstwhile client and learned specifically how his own company had failed (that is, he sought single-loop feedback). He then engaged members of his company in restructuring the systems and relationships responsible for poor performance (that is, he engaged his own company in double-loop learning). Next, he offered the erstwhile-client a new contract that bound Thompson’s company to an unusual proportion of the financial responsibility for any failure in timely performance (thus creating a condition that encouraged ongoing triple-loop awareness within his own company while seeking to meet the contract). This time his company met its obligations and regained a significant customer.

Here we see some evidence that Steve went beyond castigating himself to cultivating a more sinuous, just-in-time awareness that generated the exercise of vulnerable, mutuality-enhancing, transforming power under real-time pressures that improved the fortunes of both his company and a client’s.


Improving the Quality of Our Awareness by Including Four Territories of Experience


The question is how can you, the reader, as an individual manager (and you do manage at least your own time and actions), go beyond merely passively appreciating the increased effectiveness, legitimacy, and personal sense of integrity that Steve Thompson gradually gained through his writing and role playing exercises? How can you yourself become more aware of, and less constrained by, your own implicit and often untested assumptions about situations you find yourself in?

The first step is to begin to recognize how limited our ordinary attention and awareness is. The second step is to begin exercising our awareness in new ways in the midst of challenging situations.

A good way to begin recognizing the limits of our ordinary attention is to take a moment right now to reflect. We urge you to start a journal, if you do not already have one, for exercises like this one. Think about significant incidents during your lifetime, with another person or with a group, that have had unsatisfactory outcomes. Make a list of a half dozen of these incidents. You will want to include current ongoing issues that you may have at work, or at home with your family or friends, or with some sports team, or church, or other activity you participate in. New insights into any of these issues can be put to work right away since the situation is current. Recurrent difficulties with a particular person with whom you will continue to interact are particularly fruitful to examine closely. (Even though the difficulties are all his or her fault [of course!], still, if you can learn how to act to avoid or overcome them, you will be happier.) Long-ago incidents that you still wonder about, or feel hurt by, are also good candidates for your “unsatisfying incidents” list.

We really encourage you to list several such incidents in your journal. We will be inviting you to journal for yourself repeatedly in the coming chapters. Indeed, Chapter 2 will offer a methodology for studying one or more of these incidents more closely.

Now let’s look at how you can experience the limits of your ordinary attention by beginning to stretch it in new ways, gradually creating the capacity for super-vision. First, we rarely exercise our attention to span the four “territories of experience” that we’ve been discussing in Steve Thompson’s story and that are shown in Table 1-1. As a result, our attention simply does not register a great deal of what occurs. Reading this book, for example, you are likely to become oblivious for periods of time to sounds and other events in your environment, oblivious, too, to your own body position and breathing, oblivious even to the fact that this book is a physical object with size, weight, and texture as distinct from the cognitive meaning of the words and sentences you are reading. Being reminded of these facts now may momentarily jolt you into a widened awareness of several territories at once. Can your attention include a sense of the book as object (first territory), a sense of your breathing (second territory), and a sense of the meaning of the sentences (third territory) as you continue to read?

Table 1-1 Four Territories of Experience

Typically, during our lifetime, our earliest years after we learn language are engaged in learning how to deal directly with the first territory of experience—the outside world—by learning how to run and play games relatively skillfully, putting the basketball through the hoop or the thread through the hole of the needle, rather than the point of the needle into our hand. Next, with our teenage friends and sometimes our parents as sounding boards, we focus more on the second territory of experience—our own performance itself. We learn how to play roles in conventional, preexisting social games relatively skillfully. We may become the listening conflict-reconciler in a torn family, or perhaps advance our own status by trumping lower status members of our peer group. By college age or in our early twenties, many of us turn our primary attention to providing new value by developing creative or problem-solving capabilities in some cognitive field—the third territory of experience—be it music-making or accounting, software development or medicine.

But few of us today go on to the profound field of adult learning wherein we seek to directly engage the fourth territory of experience—our attention itself, our super-vision—with its capacity for intentional movement among the other three territories of experience and across more than one at a time. Have you maintained the sense of the book as object and of your breathing as you read this entire paragraph?

This chapter, and this book as a whole, is an invitation into an executive world of persons such as we and you who increasingly wish to act and to attend inquiringly from moment to moment. At the end of this section, after Chapter 3, you will find a summary of each of the first three chapters and relevant attention exercises to help you transform the idea of action inquiry into the practice and experience of action inquiry. For now, though, we invite you to explore in Chapter 2 how your own personal action inquiry can expand into your conversations on the job and among your friends. Then in Chapter 3, we will introduce the unique power of organization-wide action inquiry.

Back to Top ↑

Endorsements

"A book for managers and students of management who are serious about exploring in depth how leaders and organizations can develop the capacity to continually learn and transform themselves." -Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline "Action inquiry works! As a board member of Trillium Asset Management, Bill Torbert has made significant, valuable contributions to our company process, to our mission and vision, to the strategic positioning of the company and, in an important way, to the day-to-day management of people. This book presents fundamental concepts of management and governance that can lead to sustainable companies, families and communities." -Joan Bavaria, CEO Trillium Asset Management and 1999 Time.com "Hero of the Planet" "Action Inquiry provides a fresh and unique insight into the complexity of being simple and the simplicity of being complex, and for those reasons this book is ultimately a pragmatic guide to personal and organizational effectiveness." -Pat Canavan, Sr. VP Global Governance, Motorola "Buckle up your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. Torbert is an original and his ideas about life, learning and leadership will rattle your brain and stir your soul." -Charles Derber, author of Corporation Natio and Regime Change Begins at Home "This book dramatically illustrates how action inquiry can be a path to self- and other-awareness, insight, and positive changes of the sort that can shape a world in the future that we will all want to live in." -Sandra Waddock, author of Leading Corporate Citizens "In Action Inquiry, Bill Torbert and colleagues have offered a profound step toward a more integral and comprehensive approach to leadership-including not only what constitutes effective leadership, but field-tested methods for transforming your own approach into more effective, successful, and truly inspiring leadership." -Ken Wilber, author of A Theory of Everything

Back to Top ↑