Culture of Curiosity

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This past week I had the opportunity to read Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book What The Dog Saw. Gladwell wrote the best sellers Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.
What I like most about Gladwell’s books is that they are fueled by a curiosity about things that most of us don’t think twice about. In What The Dog Saw, Gladwell turns commonly held notions on their head including homelessness, panic vs. choking, what makes a good teacher and many other myths.
In organizations, curiosity fuels innovation and the solving of stubborn problems.  We’ll examine how to foster curiosity in yourself and others to get breakthrough results.
Culture of Curiosity
Curiosity is the root of innovation and creativity and being curious is a constructive leadership characteristic. Organizations and their leaders can snuff out curiosity by implementing rigid rules, having sacred cows and dismissing questions that could lead to new discoveries.
A leader who is curious will handle employee performance problems more effectively. Instead of punishing or berating an employee, the curious leader is interested in why the employee chose to behave the way he did and how it can be prevented.
Being curious in a conflict situation allows you to see the other person’s perspective so that you can propose mutually acceptable alternatives.
Being curious in negotiations allows you to understand the other party’s needs and wants so that you can achieve win/win outcomes.

Curiosity is what will create the next EBay or Google or Microsoft and curiosity will lead your organization to a breakthough opportunity.  
Reflection Questions
How curious a person are you? Is curiosity encouraged in your organization? How many things are taken at face value without being more open minded to seeing new opportunities?
Action Items

  • Be curious about long standing problems in your workplace.
  • Ask questions that inspire curiosity in others, “How could we serve our customers better and generate better results?”
  • Avoid crushing other people’s curiosity when comments like, “We’ve always done it that way, ” or “That will never work.”