The Business Case: HBR Says Curiosity Matters!

In "Why Curiosity Matters" Francesca Gino analyzes recent research and reviews talent management examples from Google, IDEO, WebMD & Pixar to arrive at the conclusion that CURIOSITY MATTERS!

She determined that hiring, training and rewarding for curiosity results in superior organizational performance. Furthermore, the type of curiosity expressed varies by individual. Organizations can nurture curiosity through the experiences they expose their workforce to and the behaviors they model. Ms. Gino calls out three key findings of her research:

1 - Curiosity is much more important to an enterprise’s performance than was previously thought: In particular, she found that organizations that nurture curiosity produce more creative results, are more resilient to challenges in the market and are more collaborative in their problem solving... resulting in better decisions.

2 - Leaders can increase their organizations collective Curiosity Quotient by making small changes in the way they manage: Ms. Gino found this to be true in every industry and for creative and routine work alike. She found significantly greater innovation, less mistakes, more open communication and better overall results.

3 - Although leaders say they treasure inquisitive minds, most stifle curiosity: Leaders fear it will increase risk and inefficiency. The research suggests the opposite is true... when workers feel free to be inquisitive and question the status quo, efficiency improves. There are a range of programs that can be implemented to increase curiosity; however, the most important thing leaders can do is model curiosity and their support of it. Maintaining a sense of wonder is crucial to creativity and innovation. The most effective leaders look for ways to nurture their employees’ curiosity to fuel learning and discovery.

CONCLUSION: There is good and bad news in this report.

The bad news: Only 24% of workers report they are empowered to express their creativity in the workplace and 70% said they felt there were barriers to asking questions about their work. Furthermore, curiosity levels dropped an average of 20% over the first six months on the job.

The good news: Organizations can impact and sustain curiosity through their hiring and management approaches and by leadership modeling appropriately curious behavior.

The benefits are greater creativity, increased efficiency, improved morale & retention, stronger collaboration and better overall organizational performance.

Alex Berg