Just what does it take to architect a relentlessly curious workforce development strategy for your organization?
Well, the first step just may be up to you. Ask yourself these three leadership questions:
- Am I, myself, curious by nature?
- Then, am I curious about how a relentlessly curious culture might impact employee/client engagement, productivity and profitability?
- Alternatively, am I most comfortable playing small and staying safe within the confines of my current role?
Creating a relentlessly curious culture is fueled by an organization’s response to perceived uncertainty.
Most certainly, today’s globally competitive business environments are impacted by the disruptive pace and cadence of information and data flow and tech advances. In spite of the best efforts at stabilization and control, in digitally transforming corporate cultures, uncertainty is continuously introduced into work environments.
As the expression goes: Curiosity kills the Cat. In risk-averse corporate cultures, curiosity gets neutralized.
In business cultures valuing innovators, instead of order-takers, being curious is a desirable trait. When these organizations think they know all the answers, they wonder whether they are asking the right questions. They continuously disrupt themselves.
When leading a human capital development initiative focused on cross-functional collaboration and innovation, curiosity is continuously in play. Even in the midst of stabilizing control systems and processes.
Why? A proactive, relentlessly curious culture keeps everyone on their toes. The focus becomes “what’s next?” instead of reacting to “what just happened?”
Your relentlessly curious culture really is child’s play.
Let’s take a page from the P21 playbook, when it comes to curiosity. P21 , or The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, is a “coalition of business, education, and government leadership focused on ensuring that all children have access to a high quality, relevant education.” The P21 framework focuses on the important teacher-student partnership needed to foster students’ learning and innovation skills.
These learning and innovation skills involve the 4 Cs: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
In addition, a fifth C – curiosity and question formulation – plays a major role in learning and innovation skills. Curiosity plays big in terms of how individuals improve their memory for retaining, combining and deploying acquired information. “Stimulating curiosity ahead of knowledge acquisition could enhance learning success.”
How successful are you in fostering a corporate culture in which all the children play well together? Are you overlooking the power of curiosity?
Developing a learning culture leverages a relentlessly curious culture.
When leading a human capital development strategy, what happens when curiosity training is injected into (or even before) skills training? You just might level the employee playing field in the process of creating a more innovative workforce.
Consider that, across the organization, employees have diverse educational backgrounds. These differences create inequities in employee ability to utilize the 4Cs in problem-solving: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. In addition, unconscious bias regarding these perceived differences between employees often becomes a 4C killer.
Now, ponder starting with the 5th C: curiosity. Creating a curiosity sandbox, while teaching employees how to ask inquisitive questions, opens the door to innovation on so many levels.
When employees from all sorts of backgrounds start asking questions founded in curiosity, all sorts of barriers are breached. Instead, co-workers start communicating more collaboratively with colleagues. Co-workers exercise their brains differently when problem-solving.
Then, curiosity subtly – and then palpably – replaces a formerly complacent culture of “No way.” In its place is a more innovative culture, one which creatively ponders “Why not?”
Eventually, a relentlessly curious culture morphs into an innovation culture.
Regardless of intellectual pedigree or job description, fostering relentless curiosity engages employees to continuously validate information used in job-related decision-making. Executing a relentlessly curious learning culture strategy organically, if not formally, teaches employees how to formulate hypotheses. Next, they must network with co-workers to uncover information supporting, or rejecting, that hypothesis. No more working in a vacuum.
As a result, they bring healthy skepticism into the workplace each day, making solutions increasingly better and better over the duration of the customer lifecycle.
As a result of leveraging curiosity, the workforce becomes more cross-functionally engaged. Then, the workforce starts, literally, to connect cross-functional resource dots. At that point, the workforce “Aha!” happens. Employees always think out of their box, or cubicle, because they comprehend how everyone’s job functionality is interconnected when creating remarkable client outcomes.
The power of that 5th C, curiosity, potentially catalyzes the power of the other 4 C’s.
In relentlessly curious cultures, a collaborative workforce keeps pace with technology advances.
Why remain in order-taker mode, when the workforce can become innovators?
When employees are motivated and engaged in value creation, courtesy of bringing curiosity into the workplace, they “see” their job with new eyes. They “think” beyond the confines of their department or job description. In addition, when asking how existing processes can be improved, they collaborate across the organization to find the answers.
Consider the impact of creating a relentlessly curious culture on current and future employee churn. Ponder the types of employees who might be attracted to an organizational culture known for nurturing employee curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
Then, go back to the top of this post. Ask yourself those three leadership questions once again. Now, are you more curious – and less risk averse – about leveraging a culture of relentless curiosity?
This article first appeared on the TalentCulture.com blog and is reproduced on my blog with our mutual permission.
Next steps towards professional innovation:
- Read these related posts. Discover how risk aversion impacts professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is an EOS Implementer (Entrepreneurial Operating System®) and a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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