The Collaborative Inquiry Process

The Research Center for Leadership in Action at NYU Wagner has pioneered Collaborative Inquiry as a method to conduct participatory international evaluations; offer leadership programs for accomplished professionals in a variety of public service organizations; and advance research on what makes leadership possible.

A question of burning importance: Each inquiry group identifies a question that all participants see as critical to their work. Examples of questions include: How do organizations with distinct agendas build a common effort? How can we, as leaders, create opportunities for others to take up their leadership?

Cycles of action and reflection: Through the process, participants engage in structured activities and experiment with new practices in their daily work. Group members then reflect together to make sense of what happened in the action phase and to develop and refine possible answers to their research question.

Expert facilitation: Facilitators trained in the CI methodology structure reflection sessions, bring outside expertise to bear on the question the group is exploring, track learning across sessions, and provide the group with critical feedback along the way to ensure that they are using the process to its full advantage.

Opportunities for connection and reflection: Collaborative Inquiry helps solidify deep connections among those engaged in the process, providing a unique peer-networking opportunity. Participants support one another in taking risks in their practice that advance their individual and collective learning and generate new knowledge rooted in their work. This process also provides a rare but important opportunity for reflection and professional growth.