Add some curiosity into your team

The September-October issue of the Harvard Business Review focuses on what it calls the business case for curiosity. It gives 5 pieces of advice for fostering curiosity

  1. Hire for curiosity. Gotta love those checklists: who knew that curiosity would not arise randomly from non-curious people? But seriously: do you include any questions about curiosity in your hiring practice, beyond the obligatory query about how fast the candidate can learn new things? Time to amp it up. And, as the paper states, pay attention to the quality of the questions the candidate asks.
  2. Model inquisitiveness. Do you ask more than you tell? And do you really listen for the answer? It’s not just a solid people management practice, it’s a recipe to open up everyone’s brain to the wonders of curiosity.
  3. Emphasize learning goals. This may be especially tough in support organizations that are often metrics and targets-driven, but simply giving the team learning goals in parallel with the more traditional achievement goals may do the trick.
  4. Let team members explore. Tuition reimbursement, places to congregate and meet other team members, protected time for learning, are all appropriate here.
  5. Have Why days. As a consultant, I usually start projects by channeling my inner three-year old and asking lots of Why questions. They are usually met with patient sighs and long explanations of why it just cannot work that way here — and sometimes we quickly agree that the explanation does not hold. Don’t wait for a consultant visit: ask why everyday.

What are you doing to encourage curiosity? And what outcomes can you share?

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