Small Children and puppies are curious things. They explore, quite often, without fear of consequence, something unknown – something new. They may be hesitant, but with encouragement and a little moral support, they test and grow their confidence as they taste something new, handle something different, and figure something out. And eventually – they discover their own individual approaches and, very often, surprise us with a new take on something that’s been staring us in the face for years.
There’s a lot of talk about creating a culture of curiosity in the business place. We’re being flooded with articles that call for innovation, free-thinking, agile organisations that bend and flex according to the market. And we agree with so many of them. In fact, we’ve written many of them ourselves.
And curiosity is wonderful – that is, if one is actually given a chance to experiment. Andrew Bennet, CEO of Havas Creative Group put it perfectly: “When we open ourselves fully to our curious natures, we are able to ponder without limits. Unlike creativity — at least as practiced in business — curiosity isn’t about solving problems. It’s about exploration and expansion. Curiosity can start and lead anywhere. And that’s precisely the sort of broader mindset our industry needs.”
But there’s a hurdle. You can only be curious within your organisation as far as you’re being encouraged to be. So many organisations are operationally stifled by superfluous process that, instead of facilitating and speeding up, causes us to stumble and become frustration – throwing any hope of innovative change out of the window. And so, from our own experience of working with many of our clients, as well as a summary of some of the greatest curiosity advice out there, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite ways to cultivate a culture of curiosity within your organisation that stimulates growth, innovation, and new change.
Start with yourself
We’ve written quite a few blogs on leadership, and the responsibility you have to the building of a constructive corporate culture – and no less is the importance of developing curiosity. Andrew Bennet talks about “being curious about your people” and the importance of attracting and nurturing curious talent – whether you’re recruiting for the first time and changing your recruitment strategy, or whether you’re looking at your current teams and providing opportunity to upskill your teams and develop a new outlook on something through training, or maybe you’re throwing the rule book out, and re-structuring your weekly calendar to make time for discovering new tools, spaces and ideas through dedicated innovation times. Whatever it is, you’re the catalyst in this equation – and if you want a curious workforce, you need to lead that initiative through your own curiosity.
Embracing creativity means you’re not afraid of trying something that may seem completely ridiculous. You’re approaching new thought on a completely clean standpoint – you may be aware of the risks, and you may be aware of previous attempts, but whatever you decide to try, you know that your curiosity will never be met with blame if things don’t go according to plan. And, just like we’ve said in the previous point, this stems from a leadership strategy that supports individual free-thinking.
“There can be a ‘villain, victim, hero’ dynamic,” explains Pat Christen, president and CEO of HopeLab. “But when you recognise you’re in that game, playing one of those roles, you have the choice to step off the triangle, and instead focus on moving forward.”
You probably work with some of the smartest, most creative, most capable people. Limiting them to “hit this goal” isn’t just uninspiring, it’s ineffective. And increasingly in the world of work, we’re all facing challenges for which solutions haven’t yet been created. So, it’s important that you set the tone for their creativity from the start.
Get to know your individuals
Some organisations find the best tool to really get to know their teams are to hold individual 1-2-1’s where personal goals are set, and personal development plans established. Others feel that this is just a time-consuming checklist that needs to be doesn’t stimulate. Some organisations feel that initiating team-focussed initiatives gives them insight into how their workforce unites on a common mission, while others would prefer to focus on individual capability to see something from their own unique perspective. Whichever way you prefer to see it – your workforce represents an opinion, a view, an approach that is more than likely something you’ve never considered before. But the onus lies on you to get to know them – not only as a team, but as individuals, and the perspectives they bring.
The Team from Actionable, a learning & development platform company dedicated to changing the way we learn at work, sums it up perfectly: “One reason we’re scared of robots is because nobody wants to become one. That’s why we run from cultures that don’t encourage curiosity. We want to nurture a curiosity culture because it makes us more present to the journey, more creative, better at communicating alignment with each other, and more agile and adaptive to what’s happening when we arrive at an obstacle on the road”
Dr. Rick Goodman, a thought-leader in the world of leadership both in the US and Internationally, talks about the importance of collaboration in an effort to drive curiosity and individualism. “Make sure your employees are constantly working together in different partnerships and configurations; really encourage cross-discipline and cross-department teamwork. Allow your employees to be exposed to all the different talents and gifts represented on your team,” he says.
He also suggests the notion of giving ownership and being forthright in sharing the broader company vision with your team members, but not just leaving it there. He encourages business leaders he works with to actively solicit their feedback through allowing them to feel like they have a say in where the business is headed.
In a shocking survey conducted in the US on the Curiosity At Work, over 60% of employees felt that they encountered barriers to practicing curiosity in the workplace, most of whom faced barriers by simply asking questions. Only 12% of those surveyed reported that they felt that their employees truly encouraged curiosity.
Who knows – the very cat that killed curiosity may just be the secret that saves your organisation.
If you’re at a turning point in your own organisation and you’re ready for change, but you’re not quite sure how to bring that change about, then you’re ready to speak to our team of specialists. We will work with you to effect a turnaround in your organisation and sets you on the path for continued exponential growth, with a culture and workforce that is focussed on your growth, passionate about productivity and ready to get your business to where it needs to be.