When it comes to the survival skills that your organization needs to navigate today’s volatile and competitive landscape, curiosity may not be the first one that comes to mind… or the last one, for that matter.
Whether you see it as a skill or characteristic, curiosity is a powerful mindset that can be developed and nurtured. And increasing the curiosity quotient in your company can keep your business ahead of the curve with tangible benefits such as:
- innovative solutions to complex challenges and opportunities
- more and better ideas for products and services
- faster time in filling skills gaps with the team you have
Here are three ways to cultivate curiosity in your workplace:
According to the authors of The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators from Harvard Business Review Press, it’s the relentless questioners who are most successful:
‘Innovators ask lots of questions to better understand what is and what might be. They ignore safe questions and opt for crazy ones, challenging the status quo and often threatening the powers that be with uncommon intensity and frequency.’
While a barrage of questions — and working through the answers — can feel threatening or seem like a waste of time, it can very well lead to a breakthrough, solution or new idea that takes your company from surviving to thriving. Encourage your team to start asking away about the hows, whys, what-fors and what-ifs. And, remind everyone to leave their ego at the door when it comes to asking and fielding questions. Here are some great ideas from Brad Aronson to improve your question-asking skills.
EMBRACE EXPERIMENTATION… AND FAILURE
In a rapidly evolving marketplace, most businesses don’t have the luxury of perfecting a product or service before it’s launched. Join the innovative organizations and teams that are beginning to adopt an iterative mindset and put ‘a thing out in the wild,’ and then test, improve, test, tweak, test again, and so on. This experimental process requires taking risks, using failures and setbacks to learn what doesn’t work, and capitalizing quickly on what does work.
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn
When I started working at Safari, I saved the last words from my on-boarding document in my phone so I can refer to it whenever the fear of failure strikes:
Most important: Don’t be afraid of failure. When in doubt, do the thing! We expect you to take risks and fail in spectacular ways, this is OK, this is healthy. Learn from your mistakes and share what you’ve learned with others. In this way we all gain the knowledge.
ESTABLISH AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO LEARNING
For curiosity to work its wonders, it must be paired with continuous learning, exploration, and ultimately, intelligent action. Give your employees access to a learning resource with a depth and breadth of quality content that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. This will empower them to solve problems and apply new skills and concepts in real time.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of things we need to learn and the vast amount of content at our fingertips. Encourage your team members to develop a personal daily learning plan so they can prioritize and organize their learning into manageable chunks and coordinate with their team or the entire organization where applicable. For instance:
- your company can collaboratively focus on improving strategy skills by reading the same book
- your programmers can read and discuss a not-yet-published book on Python in order to stay on top of this must-have skill
- an individual can improve her communication skills by listening to an audiobook on her daily commute
If you’re already cultivating curiosity at your workplace, share your ideas with us and let us know what’s working.