The Ladder of Inference

Adapted from The Fifth Discipline Field Bookby Peter Senge, et al.

The ‘Ladder’ describes a series of “Common mental pathways of increasing abstraction” explored in Peter Senge’s foundational text. By reflecting and using the Ladder of Inference, people can improve communication by:
• becoming more aware of their thinking and reasoning
• making this thinking and reasoning visible to others
• inquiring into others’ thinking and reasoning.

The seven steps on the Ladder of Inference (start at the bottom)
7. Actions Taken
6. Beliefs About The World
5. Conclusions Drawn
4. Assumptions
3. Meanings Attached — both personal and cultural
2. Data Selected
1. Observable Data and Experiences