They Say it Killed the Cat

The old saying goes “curiosity killed the cat.” While curiosity seemed detrimental for our unfortunate feline friend, your employees are wired to crave it. It is inherently natural for humans to seek new information, explore possibilities, and pursue novel ideas. Studies have shown that when we are curious, happy chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and oxytocin to name a few are released into our brains. These chemicals lead to a natural euphoria that can promote happiness in the workplace and lead to the internal motivation of our employees. Unfortunately, many workgroups tend to be more focused on task completion and forget to create the culture of curiosity necessary to promote creativity thinking and the development of novel ideas.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to foster an environment that encourages curiosity and promotes a willingness to learn and explore new ideas. In this quick tip, we will review some strategies that we as leaders can use to build a culture of curiosity within our teams.

  1. Encourage questions

It is important to encourage our teams to ask questions. This can help to create a culture where curiosity is valued and seen as a positive trait. We can start by modeling this behavior ourselves, asking questions and encouraging others to do the same. When our team members feel comfortable asking questions, they are more likely to seek out new information and ideas, leading to a more innovative and engaged team.

One way to kick this off is to use the ideation technique called questionstorming. For more information on this technique, please take a moment review this article.

2. Provide opportunities for learning

Providing opportunities for learning is another way to build a culture of curiosity. This can include training sessions, workshops, or online courses. When our team members are given the tools and resources to learn new things, they are more likely to be curious and engage in continuous learning. Visit our catalog for a list of learning opportunities offered by your LLD department.

3. Encourage experimentation

Encouraging experimentation can also help to build a culture of curiosity. This means giving team members the opportunity to try new things, even if they may not be successful. Encouraging experimentation can help team members to learn from their mistakes and develop new skills. This can lead to increased innovation and creativity within the team.

4. Celebrate successes

Celebrating innovation successes can also help to build a culture of curiosity. When team members achieve success, take the time to recognize their efforts and contributions. This can help to create a positive atmosphere and encourage team members to continue to pursue new ideas and innovations.

5. Encourage collaboration

Collaboration is another key component of building a culture of curiosity. Encourage team members to work together and share ideas. This can help to spark the development of novel ideas and innovations and can also help team members to learn from each other. When employees collaborate in teams, they are more likely to be curious and engage in continuous learning. Rather than always scheduling a meeting to ideate or solve problems, you can use an opportunity board to promote real time questioning and collaboration amongst your team.

6. Embrace failure

Embracing failure is another important strategy for building a culture of curiosity. When team members feel like they can take risks and make mistakes, they are more likely to be curious and try new things. Encourage your team to learn from their failures and use them as opportunities for growth and development. When failure is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a negative outcome, team members are more likely to engage in curious and innovative behavior.

I had the pleasure to work for a leader that expected our entire team to arrive to our weekly meeting ready to share at least one failure we experienced during the previous week. This served two purposes. First, it forced us to look at mistakes as a positive component of the continuous improvement process within our department. Secondly, it helped all of us learn about the pitfalls that our colleagues had already experienced.

Building a culture of curiosity within a team can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and problem-solving skills. As leaders, it is our responsibility to foster an environment that encourages curiosity and promotes a willingness to learn and explore new ideas. Encouraging questions, providing opportunities for learning, encouraging experimentation, celebrating successes, encouraging collaboration, and embracing failure are all important strategies for building a culture of curiosity within your team. If you would like some assistance getting all this started, consider signing your team up for LLD’s Resolve to Solve workshop. Please note: no cats have ever been harmed during the facilitation of this workshop.

-Scot

Sources:

  1. Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
  2. Harvard Business Review. (2018). “The Business Case for Curiosity.” Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-business-case-for-curiosity
  3. Lebowitz, S., & Hess, T. (2017). “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture: How to Manage the Eight Critical Elements of Organizational Life.” Harvard Business Review Press.
  4. Razzetti, G. (2019). “The Power of Curiosity: How to Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding”

Tags for this post:

  • Collaboration
  • Curiosity
  • Experimentation
  • Questioning

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