To foster innovation or just stay fresh, smart businesses are encouraging curiosity.


Curiosity has had its share of bad connotations. Curiosity is an oddity, scorned as nosiness, and even blamed for killing the cat!  

Nevertheless, it’s a primary driver of human evolution, and many businesses today are openly embracing it. It’s now among the desirable traits sought in corporate leaders, along with standbys like intelligence and trustworthiness. It is also seen as a valuable quality for employees. As Bain and Company Chairman Orit Gadiesh said in 2018, “The best way to stay employable is to stay curious.”

Curiosity to discover how something works – or why it doesn’t – can be an enormous benefit to businesses intent on continuously improving their operation. More and more managers are fostering an environment that promotes inquiry, creating more opportunities for learning, constructive collaboration and innovation. 

One workplace target for this kind of investigative mindset is complacency. Even the most interesting jobs can become–at least in part–routine. Some may even seek the routine as part of maintaining a comfort zone. It’s an understandable preference to taking on the seemingly insoluble big issues that impact all business, such as inflation, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and the rest. 


An Agent of Transformation

When we go beyond what we know and search for deeper understanding, we can create new goals, new opportunities, and in turn, reach more positive outcomes. 

There are a number of ways to engage your own natural curiosity. 

Begin by taking the time to reflect and gain a deeper understanding of your actions and thought process as a leader. Ask yourself questions such as “How have I evolved?” and “What opportunities have I missed?”  

When you take the time to evaluate the systems already in place, it can help track progress and force you to think about the next steps you should take to create lasting, positive change. 

Too often we remain in the status quo because that is what we have always done. Curiosity is the fresh face on thinking outside the box.

Are there daily tasks or outdated processes that could be eliminated? Do employees see aspects of their jobs that are stressful and could be streamlined or simplified by adjusting workflow or adding technology or other solutions? 

Feedback is an essential part of evaluating the effectiveness of a team or project design. If the process of seeking answers and remedies is infused with a healthy sense of curiosity instead of scrutiny and investigation, it takes on a completely different tone. And that can help foster more curiosity among employees, too.

As Forbes assured, “Being curious will create new possibilities for you as a leader, and produce a system where others do the same for themselves and the culture.”