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Creating a Culture of Curiosity

Nowadays, creativity and innovation are valued in almost every kind of organization. Leaders are aware that regardless of the industry, we all need a team committed to an openness to the best ideas and solutions. So how do we foster a culture of creativity and innovation? Tim Brown, CEO of international design-and-consulting firm IDEO, puts forth some recommendations of curiosity growth in his recent article, saying to:

1.    Seek inspiration

2.    Adopt a beginner’s mindset

3.    Challenge your assumptions

4.    Frame problems as questions

5.    Get uncomfortable

In addition to these ideas, I’d recommend developing rituals that allow the time and space to be curious. Using Brown’s framework, here are some ideas your team might adopt to make curiosity a part of your day to day.

1.    Go to a cultural institution once a quarter as a team to learn something new together. Vote on where to go and what to learn; then give the team the day to revel in the knowledge of learning something new.

2.    Invite someone who has never seen/experienced your service or product into the office to be interviewed by your team. Have them experience your brand for the first time (log onto your website, pull up your social-media properties, order something) and see what questions and frustrations (or joy!) pop up.

3.    At least once a year have the team go on a retreat where they spend the day (or two) challenging the ways they’ve been doing things while brainstorming new solutions. Ask questions that get the organization out of its comfort zone, like: “If we stopped doing ABC, could we start doing XYZ?” What are the things that bring us the greatest joy? What are the things that bring us the greatest grief? What are the opportunities we might be overlooking right now?

As a leader, my biggest weakness is not allowing the space for new answers to emerge. I am working daily to develop trust in the unknown. What I’ve seen when we make more space is we end up letting go of the habits and rituals that no longer serve us,  making room for the growth of new ideas.

Elizabeth Tucker