Are you curious?

Your number one future skill

Which animal has a fingerprint that is indistinguishable from a human fingerprint? (CLUE: it’s not a monkey … )

Don’t Google the answer just yet. Let’s first assume you don’t know the animal, but you are somewhat curious about it.

What is going on in your mind as you think about what it might be? Are you recalling places or parts of the world you have travelled to? Are you thinking about interesting animals you’ve seen, touched or experienced before?

Now, how does it feel to be curious about the answer to this question? How does it feel while you’re searching for what it might be? Does it bug you that you don’t know the answer? Is it a bit like an itch that you want to scratch? Or do you feel excited? Is it fun figuring out what the answer might be?

This is what it is like to be curious.

This question shows you how your curiosity is sparked. It’s likely you now feel energised to go out and seek more information about the question posed (so go on, Google it – I know you want to).

Scratch your itch 

Curiosity is like the compelling urge to scratch an itch. It makes us want to seek out more information – it makes us want to find valuable problems in our business or organisation.

Behavioural economist George Loewenstein developed the Information Gap Theory of curiosity in the 1990s. He believes curiosity is a critical motive that influences behaviour and that arises when we feel a gap exists ‘between what we know and what we want to know’.

You are more likely to seek out information if you are curious about something because that’s how you ‘scratch your itch’.

In today’s business environment, you need to search for problems in different places or outside of your current offerings to create a gap between what you know (or think you know) and what you want to know.

Are you curious about what the world will look like in five, ten or 15 years’ time? What problems might your customers be facing then?

Being motivated to find and solve your customers’ biggest problems (the ones they often don’t even realise they have) is the heart of innovation.

Curiosity is the fuel for inquiry, learning and discovery – that’s why it’s critical for organisational growth and innovation.

Curiosity challenge

The challenge of every organisation is the incredible pressure placed on short-term results, the intense task-focus of hitting monthly, quarterly, and yearly numbers of revenue and profit targets. Even when a business is delivering year-on-year, double-digit revenue growth, it’s expected that you do everything to sustain that performance.

In a short-term environment, there is always a deadline looming. Organisations are always chasing results, which creates a culture of ‘doing’. So, when a business problem arises it is common for organisations to run with that problem, and quickly jump to solution finding and implementation.

This results in fast, cheap solutions that do not last long and do not have much impact for your customers.

Being motivated to find and solve your customers’ biggest problems (the ones they often don’t even realise they have) is the heart of innovation.

Being innovative involves doing something new or different that creates value for your customers and clients. Creating value means helping customers get from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow.

It’s a future skill you have to harness within your organisation to ensure that you keep up with this demand.

Before innovation comes problem finding, and before problem finding comes curiosity. You need to learn to cultivate curiosity within your organisation if you want to encourage better problem finding. You need to get smart about the problems you give time, resources and money to.

The benefits to business are big – when you nurture curiosity in your team, you find problems, solve problems and identify breakthrough innovation in your organisation.

Assess yourself

So just how curious are you now?

This self-assessment will help you to identify what kind of mindset(s) you have right now and which one(s) you might need to nurture.

There are six mindsets and six corresponding questions to answer to determine how you currently rate in each mindset.

First, rate yourself on the following questions using a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all likely and 10 is extremely likely.

  1. REBEL 

How prepared are you to go out on a limb and risk a better way of doing things?

  1. ZEN-MASTER 

How often are you fully present?

  1. NOVICE 

How comfortable are you when you don’t have all the answers?

  1. INTERROGATOR 

How likely are you to ask questions that have never been asked before?

  1. SLEUTH 

How likely are you to notice things beyond the obvious?

  1. PLAY-MAKER 

How open are you to experiencing new things and learning through play?

Now mark your responses for each question on the hexagon. The centre of the hexagon represents 0 and the outside point of the hexagon represents a 10.

 

Draw a line between each of your marks and shade the inside area. This is your unique curiosity footprint.

It tells you the mindsets that you are strong on, and those you may need to work on.

YOU CAN USE THESE MINDSETS IN TWO WAYS:

to guide and cultivate your own curiosity, and to guide and cultivate the curiosity of others within your organisation.

Curious to know more?

Cultivating Curiosity: How to Unearth Your Most Valuable Problem to Inspire Growth is out now. (This is an edited extract from Cultivating Curiosity

Evette Cordy

Evette Cordy is curious – and she’s passionate about making you curious, too. As an innovation expert, registered psychologist and the chief investigator and co-founder at Agents of Spring, she identifies opportunities and facilitates new ways of thinking in organisations. Curious to find out more?

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