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What are the benefits of workplace curiosity?

The most successful organizations are those that not only survive, but also thrive in uncertain, rapid evolving times. They nurture working environments that encourage continuous learning and exploration to help them adapt. They are more likely to question existing routines and explore different vantage points by asking the right questions. An organization which allows curiosity to thrive is more nimble and more open to ideas. As a result, innovates better with new products and services that solve customer challenges.

Organisations are not only the sum of their people but entities in their own right. As such, even though the organization might have its fair share of curious individuals and curious teams, organizations can support or stifle curiosity through its practices, processes, culture and climate. 

Curiosity is the driver for innovation, for never settling for status quo, for retaining a healthy level of organizational humility, for actively allowing divergent opinions to emerge. It also supports organisational learning through active openness to processes like for instance after-action-reviews, especially a desire to learn from things that went south. However, 100 years of management thinking based on the precepts of taylorist thinking and its associated command and control leadership paradigm has laid a foundation which is often counterproductive for curiosity to flourish and often creates a culture of fear. As John Hunt in 'the art of the idea' states: “Fear might be a strong catalyst for entrenching obedience, but it’s a lousy motivator for fresh thinking.”

Though the C-suite and management in organisations are generally in favor of the notion of curiosity, in reality the situation on the ground can be different and organisations often create barriers to curiosity.

In the light of accelerated economic activity towards the 4th industrial revolution driven by infotech and biotech, companies cannot afford to be incurious. An organization which is not curious will become complacent, will not not learn from mistakes, will be arrogant and will miss the corner of innovation in the light of new competition.


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