John Inman-Unlocking Wisdom to Lead in a Complex World

This webpage outlines my professional work prior to my first and second master’s degrees and my doctoral degree. My recent professional work is outlined in my professional web site where three main areas of focus converge, all based on the foundation of the work outlined below, conversation. The three areas include community development through dialogue, dialogic leadership, and learning exceptionalities. Now that I am retired, my primary focus in my work on learning exceptionalities, the topic of my dissertation. I published my book on the topic and you can visit the announcement on my learning exceptionalities page.

I invested over 28 years helping build organizations with practices and structures to attract, develop, and retain high performance team members and teams.  My simple belief was that high performance operations are created through high performance teams, not the other way around. The model of leadership that I teach is based on my life’s work of creating learning, rapport, relationships, and performance through conversation.  My framework is Conversational Leadership and this is how I drive a change in how leaders interact with their team members and teams. I have created a simple Conversational Leadership model that I use to explain my framework as well as published a paper on conversational leadership in 2002, Con versare: To Dance Together

I also am committed to living systems thinking and see an enterprise as embedded within many other systems and accountable to those systems. Based on my desire to follow my values, I made the decision to transform my career to the development and growth of adults and the communities and societies within which they live. When I started my consulting business, in 1991, a description is below, this was my intent but I did not have the foundation to create the changes I hoped to. So in 1999, I made the decision to go back to school to earn a masters in Adult education focused on leading edge adult learning theories and now am pursing a doctorate in human and organization development. 

John Inman and Associates

The focus of my consulting company  was building integrity into organizations. The primary product I used to do this was “Drive to Target: Building Integrity into Organizations”.


At John Inman and Associates, we took Quality Management out the arena of a philosophy into the world of day to day decisions being made in an organization. For years, building integrity in one’s personal life has been taught by first defining a personal mission and values, then bringing personal behavior into line with the mission and values. This same concept is true for organizations with a couple of critical additions. The first of those is the addition of a vision statement.  Strategic Partnerships both inside and outside the organization can not proceed without shared vision. The second, and the step that drives Quality Management and Customer Responsiveness directly into the management process, is the development of Quality Targets. Once the mission, Vision, Values, and Quality Targets are defined and communicated throughout the organization, integrity is built into the organization by screening all decisions through the Quality Targets. The Quality Targets capture the essence and spirit of the Mission, Vision, and Values in a format that is measurable. Accountability and authority are aligned in the management process building an empowered, focused and passionate organization team.

My work as a consultant honed my skills

My work as a consultant forced me to challenge everything I ever learned about business and people and forced me to study continuously for three years to keep up with the market. This work culminated in my white paper, Integrating The Organizational Community. I used this white paper and the corresponding PowerPoint, Learning to Fish,  to present the concepts I used in my consulting and they give a fairly good idea of my business philosophies and the work I did. The bottom line of my work was to create quality managed, customer responsive organizations.

One of the fun things I did while I was a consultant was create my own radio show called The Decade Of The Customer, a talk show designed to bring leading edge sales, marketing, and management knowledge to the Portland Business community.  I started the show to help  build my knowledge base, I interviewed leaders in the field, and to gain exposure in the Portland market for my consulting and training work. I interviewed mostly leading edge practitioners from Portland in sales, marketing and Management.

My career in the 90’s was focused on high technology starting with Interactive Northwest

I was an organizational change consultant and had just finished a contract with a large environmental consulting firm and Chuck Van Meter, the founder of INI asked me to join the fledgling start up, just 4 people at that time, and help him build his business. I set up the systems and hired the majority of the original team before Chuck moved me into building the market with our client, AT&T at that time and then Lucent and then Avaya. I spent years developing and training the Lucent channel and continued in the high technology industry until 2002. Here is the original team at a mid stream parting of the ways. I came back soon after. I still have many friends there and it was very difficult to leave. However, the time was right and the PlaceWare opportunity was perfect for me and for PlaceWare.

Professional experience

Over the years I have focused on building my knowledge skills and attributes even more than a specific career. Continuing education has been a critical part of my professional development. I believe that we can not give away what we do not own any more than we can come from where we have not been. And we can not offer others competencies we have not developed. My background is varied and extensive and at all time focused on building capacities and capabilities in team members within my various communities. If you would like brief look at my background, visit my professional biography

Journey to human and organizational development

If you would like to see some examples of my archived work, here are two examples:

In-depth cultural based two day orientation

A unique two day orientation that is steeped in culture and builds on cultural understanding, service, and respect. This is a 90 page presentation published in InDesign CS and an example of the cultural work that I do. From conception to delivery, this is totally my work.

Comprehensive 10 week leadership development program

This comprehensive 10 week leadership development program is based on a cohort model and is blended curriculum. The program is experiential, includes world cafe workshops, is living/social system based and has been responsible for providing a foundation for our transformation as an organization. From conception to delivery, this is totally my work.

My journey was reinforced when Larry Wilson of Pecos River Learning Centers indicated that I did not have the experience to join his team. Several years later I started my masters program in the field to further my professional avocation. My work now centers around organizational change, living systems thought, and conversational leadership. I credit Larry with providing me not only with an opportunity to experience his extraordinary programs, but with a body of work that I have followed for over 20 years. A true inspiration to me. If anyone could have a mentor without having a mentor, Larry would fit the bill for me. I have a photo album of photos from Pecos River Learning Centers if interested. I am rebuilding and will publish again this winter, 22/23.