April 24, 2017 The Energy of Curiosity
From design thinking to building relationships
Perhaps there’s not enough curiosity in big organizations. You don’t hear, “Go be curious.” Yet the people who stand out are deeply curious. It’s not hard to connect curiosity to learning itself. Being curious makes us ask questions, all the time. It’s a great human value and practical. Being habitually and openly curious, encouraging curiosity, allowing the energy of curiosity to inspire those around you all bring rewards.
Recently I’ve become interested in the concepts behind design thinking and where its success comes from. Design thinking is dependent on a variety of things: attacking problems with a hypothesis; breaking down challenges; the engagement of analysis and synthesis, etc. Regardless of your focus, looking at challenges in different ways means more discovery and more learning, leading to new ideas. I wonder where the energy for all this thinking comes from.
Perhaps at the root of successful design thinking is curiosity. To commit to the rigor you have to have the energy of genuine curiosity for all the work you will encounter. Perhaps curiosity is central to learning itself. Persistent discovery takes energy. Curiosity supplies that energy.
Among the powerful outcomes of being curious, between people there’s an immediate exchange of energy that supports learning and growth. If you are curious about what I do, I get excited to tell you, and you get my energy and my ideas back. Curiosity builds on itself and we can build on each other’s curiosity. It’s very circular, almost like a Stirling engine.
In leadership, wide open curiosity is powerful. Here’s one example: By being curious about what people know or have to say, or what their program is about, we show both interest and respect for what they do. If I show you I’m really curious about how things work, how you do your job, what you need to succeed, or what you see, you are going to want to tell me all about it. Your desire to inform me is going to come loaded with your enthusiasm – your energy. Most importantly you will know my true curiosity and my respect for what you do. We can enjoy the energy of the exchange, learning together and the relationship we’re building.
I am concerned we do not encourage curiosity enough in big business today. You don’t hear about it that often right? Too often the signals we get are “Be compliant.”, “Paint inside the lines.”, “Don’t question why too long – Let’s get to solutions.” And we wonder why the status quo is the status quo. I believe as leaders we do need to say, “Go be curious.” If we can bring the energy of curiosity to bear on our work, and our relationships, we can accomplish some amazing things.
We often move through life in a daze of responsibilities. We don’t think we have time to be curious, or we forget to be curious; we’ve “…got things to do.” Being genuinely curious is a huge, energy-filled attribute – even more so as it becomes a habit. As a close friend often says – “The more you know – the more you know.”