The positive spiral of operationalizing curiosity
Wednesday, October 03, 2018
Why can’t we? This is a natural first question along the path of becoming a curious company. Once we start asking, we inevitably start answering.
When those efforts are positively reinforced by beneficial results, we start incorporating inquiry into our approach. Then, when we get comfortable enough asking questions as part of the routine, we begin to realize we can ask better questions in a better way.
This improvement may lead to even better results which continue to reinforce the organization’s inquiry, operationalizing curiosity and creating a positive spiral of impact. Here are a few ways to incorporate curiosity into our approach and the potential impact it can create.
Even the best teams get occasionally stuck in their boxes. However, when leaders take advantage of even small opportunities to encourage a basic change in thinking, it can have a ripple effect.
A great first step to operationalizing curiosity is to encourage cross department teamwork. If that seems too big, start small.
The next time a team member asks for advice or guidance, direct the question back at them and encourage them to seek the answer in a different place.
Most of us think we must take the latest buzzword and apply it to our biggest problem. Why? Start small.
Pick a less glamorous, less challenging item and encourage the team to look at it another way. Allow a little extra time and space for the team or team member to work through it and take a minute to follow up.
By encouraging a little outside-the-box thinking and providing the opportunity to do it, leaders positively reinforce inquiry and plant the seeds of curiosity among the team.
Once those seeds of explorative thinking are planted, leaders should support their growth by providing balanced guidance and continued reinforcement. Even simple actions like acknowledging an improvement was the result of a new partnership; or crediting a success to a different way of thinking can serve to positively reinforce the act of exploring new, different or reimagined paths.
Employees will notice leaders creating opportunities for inquiry to blossom then highlighting the results. Those with a naturally curious approach will step up and should be encouraged.
Simultaneously, though, leaders should take time to seek out input from those who do not instinctively start asking questions to ensure diverse voices are heard.
Further, creating a culture of curiosity leads to asking not just more and better questions, but questions in new places. We no longer direct our rigorous inquiry only to problem solving, we start applying this inquisitive nature to our routines.
In cultures that are open, nothing is free from consideration; everything can be improved or reimagined. Teams become open to change and feel free to inquire, making new connections and exploring other possibilities.
The bottom line is, whether we work in an innovative tech startup or a small manufacturing plant, all levels of the organization can benefit from a bit of curiosity. Try creating a little space for safe inquiry, and then encourage the positive results that follow.
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