Last evening, I read a very good article in the Sept/Oct 2018 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The article, entitled “The Business Case for Curiosity” by Francesca Gino (Professor, Harvard), spelled out why curiosity is so important in our businesses and for our team members.
Prof. Gino defines curiosity as “the impulse to seek new information and experiences and explore novel possibilities“. As much as I value curiosity, it was sobering to read “although leaders might say they treasure inquisitive minds, in fact most stifle curiosity fearing it will increase risk and inefficiency“.
Prof. Gino speaks of two barriers to curiosity:
- Leaders have the wrong mindset about exploration. The fear here is this could lead to a “costly mess”, make the company harder to manage, and could possibly slow down operations.
- Leaders tend to seek efficiency to the detriment of exploration. Prof. Gino uses Henry Ford’s drive to reduce production costs so much so that he was unable to be nimble enough to address General Motors surge in introducing a greater variety of automobiles for the public.
So how can a leader “bolster curiosity”? Prof. Gino lists 5 ways:
- Hire for Curiosity
- The Leader should model inquisitiveness.
- Emphasize learning goals over or as much as performance goals.
- Let employees explore and broaden their interests.
- Have “why?” and “what if…?” and “how might we…?” days.
I am purposefully leaving out a lot of detail in this post. You should invest a small price to read this excellent article which can be found online here: https://hbr.org/product/the-business-case-for-curiosity/R1805B-PDF-ENG
Or better yet, subscribe to HBR here: Harvard Business Review subscription information