In her book Leading with Passion and Knowledge, Nancy Fichtman Dana defines administrative inquiry or action research as a "systematic intentional study of one's own professional practice. Inquiring professionals seek out change by reflecting on their practice (p. 9)." The process of administrative inquiry is one that takes a person to reflect and question in an attempt to gain insight to a particular situation or problem. This is done by collecting data, analyzing it, finding viable solutions to create change and finally sharing with others what was learned. Dana believes that "administrator inquiry becomes a powerful vehicle for learning and reform (p. 9)." She suggests that administrative inquiry be done with others to avoid being a 'lone inquirer'.
The inquiry method may be new in education but not necessarily to the corporate world. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell writes in his book The 360-Degree Leader "...great thinking comes when good thoughts are shared in a collaborative environment where people contribute to them, shape them, and take them to the next level (p. 200). He continues, "People come together as teams, peers work together, and they make progress because they want the best idea to win (p. 199)."
Similarly, Stephen Covey writes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "You involve people in the problem, immerse them in it, so that they soak it in and feel it is their problem and they tend to become an important part of the solution. As a result, new goals, shared goals, are created and the whole enterprise moves upward, often in ways that no one could have anticipated (p. 280).
I think that Maxwell and Covey allude to inquiry even though they don't mention it directly. Today I was remembering one of my best bosses. He used the process of inquiry to draw out the best ideas from staff. Many meetings were spent questioning, analyzing, interviewing, dialoguing, etc. At these meetings, fresh ideas and new ways of looking at things were birthed. We were a close team creating change at that small art museum.
Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. NY:NY. Free Press.
Dana, Nancy F. (2009). Leading with Passion and Knowledge: The Principal as Action Researcher. Thousand Oaks: CA. Corwin.
Maxwell, J. C., (2005). The 360-Degree Leader: Developing your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization. (2005). Nashville:TN. Thomas Nelson, Inc.