Now Professor of Management at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, Bill Torbert has also served as the school’s Graduate Dean and Director of the PhD Program in Organizational Transformation. He has been involved in the founding of many academic programs, institutions as well as on serving the boards of numerous scholarly journals.
Outside the academy, Bill has consulted widely including projects with Odebrecht Construction [Brazil], Volvo and UBS Warburg [England], Lego [Denmark], Center for Creative Leadership [USA]) and served on the Boards of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Trillium Asset Management (the first and largest independent social investing advisor). He also currently serves as Director of Research for Hathill Consulting UK.
Bill is well known for his theories, cases, surveys, and lab and field experiments in regard to developmental transformation at both the personal and organizational levels, as well as within science itself, undergirded by an action research process exercised in real-time, everyday life, called “developmental action inquiry.” Unlike most purely third-person, analytic social science research, action inquiry integrates first-person, second-person, and third-person research/practice in real-time. He has written numorous books, perhaps most famously: Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership (Berrett-Koehler, 2004).
Torbert received a BA, magna cum laude, in Political Science & Economics and a PhD in Administrative Sciences from Yale University, holding a Danforth Graduate Fellowship during his graduate years. He taught at Yale, Southern Methodist University, and Harvard prior to joining the Boston College faculty in 1978.
Most of all, though, he takes great pleasure and pride (not to mention occasional pain) in the ongoing development of his friends, his students, and his three sons, Michael, Patrick, and Benjamin.
Why we chose Bill for the series
Jeroen: As a personal development junkie, I have always been looking for the best and most effective methods. When I learned about Bill Torberts “Action Inquiry”, I immediately loved it. As his book describes: “action inquiry is a fresh approach to learning leadership in the mids of action”. Imagine increasing your capacity to have moment-to-moment awareness of your behaviour, strategy and vision, and then be able to immediately take action on that awareness. That would rule.