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Why Curiosity Matters

At Clearworks curiosity plays a big role in the work that we do, listening to and observing customers and sharing those insights with our clients so they can build more compelling products, services, and experiences.

I recently read The Business Case for Curiosity in Harvard Business Review.   Francesca Gino, a Professor at Harvard Business School, covers new research that provides insights on the importance of curiosity to business success and shares strategies to help leaders operationalize curiosity within their organizations.

It is far too common for leaders to say they want employees who are innovative and explore alternative ways of thinking, but they don’t reward this behavior, opting for efficiency instead.  Gino says it is the same for curiosity, even though curiosity improves engagement and collaboration.  “Curious people make better choices, improve their company’s performance, and help their company adapt to uncertain market conditions and external pressures.”

Her five strategies for bolstering curiosity (and in turn innovative thinking) include:

#1 Hire for curiosity – I am a big believer in behavioral interviewing, it has worked well for me when hiring people who are creative and collaborative.  Also, the questions you get from a job candidate can give powerful clues into how curious they are.

#2 Model inquisitiveness – Gino has some great examples in the article of ways that leaders can model inquisitiveness for their employees.  It starts at the top…

#3 Emphasize learning goals – “Framing work around learning goals rather than performance goals boosts motivation.”  When people are focused more on learning, they are more comfortable articulating their curiosity and following up on it.

#4 Let employees explore and broaden their interests – At Clearworks, we’ve done quite a bit of work with organizations that are looking to bolster innovation, conducting employee research to learn what drives them and what is needed for them to bring more creativity to the table.  One of the key things we have witnessed is that employees are most creative when they are passionate and curious about something.  Allowing them to build on their interests while collaborating with others can often bring about breakthrough thinking.

#5 Have “Why?” “What if…?” and “How might we…” days – When we facilitate innovation workshops we also use these design thinking technique, building in many exercises that get at the “how might me” question, getting teams to think differently about a challenge.

If you want us to help you and your team get curious about your customers, your business and your challenges, get in touch.  We’re curious too!

Anne Bakstad


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