I bet you’ve thought about instilling a culture of innovation in your company. Have you thought about the role curiosity plays in innovation? I think it’s one of the main components of an innovative organization.
I consider myself to be a curious person. I’m always interested in learning more. I would much rather hear about you than talk about me. I already know more than enough about me. I find others to be way more interesting.
The magic curiosity question.
If there’s one question you need to consider it’s this one - what would happen if? I find this is a magic question. It opens up tons of possibilities.
When I ask this question I’m being curious about what could happen in the world. Too often you and I are positive about what’s going to happen. If we take a few minutes and ask “what would happen if” we open the world to possibilities. Possibilities are where you learn new things. You can’t learn anything new until you get out of the pre-conceptions you live by.
How you become curious.
For me being curious starts with wanting to learn. I could want to learn about you. I might want to learn about how things work or I could want to learn what something is. For me being curious means I read about a book a week, ask lots of questions and attend seminars where I can learn something new. Are you interested in learning new things? If so, you’re curious.
I remember a couple of years ago I had four clients all working on lean manufacturing projects. I asked all four clients what lean was and got four different answers. All of them were different and I was no further along understanding lean than before I asked the question.
I decided to read about 10 or 12 books on the subject. Now I know what lean is and as a result have been able the help all four clients put a focused lean program in their company. We’re not done, but we’re a lot further along than when I first asked the question.
How do curiosity and innovation go together?
Curiosity is the key to having an innovative organization. Before you can innovate you must be curious about what possibilities you have. Examining what’s possible often means suspending what you “know” is true. If you’re going to go past the boundaries in your life you’re going to be curious about where your boundaries lie.
In meetings that you have with your people do you ask lots of questions or do you spout your opinions? I believe that innovation is mostly about asking a good question. If you’re curious you’re likely going to ask the question that helps you company move forward.
Can you be curious about everything?
I guess you can be curious about everything, but I doubt you’ll learn very much. I’m sort of curious about many areas of science. I know that I also don’t have time to really delve into this part of human knowledge. I’m more interested in what private business owners can do to create value. That’s where I focus the vast majority of my curiosity.
Like most things in life you need to choose your spots. You can be curious about everything, but there’s just too much information. Curiosity is best served when you’re focusing on things you believe are important in your life. Answer the question about what’s going to bring you personal value and satisfaction. Focus on those areas and you’ll likely find subtleties that you never knew existed.
Like many things it’s all about focus.
Curiosity and innovation go hand in hand. Focus is the first cousin of both. If you don’t have focus you’re not going to be able to take your curiosity and do something useful with it. It’s impossible to be the best at everything. You have natural abilities. I suggest you think about what they are and then focus in on what makes you special. Take your curiosity and focus on what can provide you with satisfaction and value. I think that’s the secret.
If you’re curious about what we do, I encourage you to poke around our website. An area I would visit is our resource center. Here you’ll see over fifty workbooks, whitepapers, special reports, quizzes and mind maps on various specialties we have. I bet you might even find a way to satisfy some curiosities you have.