How to Practice a Curiosity Mindset in Your Organization

Remember what got you started in the world of business? Your first ideas, your drafts, your
drawing boards? As a novice, you were probably acting on curiosity rather than expertise or
excitement rather than surety. This curiosity mindset is what set you apart and made your ideas
worth implementing. It may even have been the driving factor behind where you are today.

Yet despite the inherent value of curiosity in the workplace and its positive impact on our lives,
so many of us suffer from complacency in business. As time passes, we lose our spirit of
interrogation and exploration. We get stuck in the same patterns of recognition and reward. We
stop being curious and fail to look critically at our successes and failures.

Expertise complacency is an extremely common phenomenon whereby knowledge experts and
skilled leaders lose the will (and therefore the ability) to continue learning and improving.
Experts feel a lot of confidence, but they also fear losing what they’ve worked so long and hard
for. This fear-induced stasis leads to further innovation suckers, like not examining successes and
not taking risks. 

Why Curiosity Is Important in Business

Knowledge and expertise in business are fundamental tenets and necessary for growing a
reputation and creating products and services that work really well. However, the value of
curiosity in the workplace cannot be overstated.

Here's why curiosity is important in business: 

  • It sidesteps growth inhibition. Curiosity has a knack for bypassing fear and unlocking an organization’s capacity for growth. Think about it. Would you ever invent anything if you weren’t first curious about a problem? A curiosity mindset acknowledges that the market environment will change constantly, and one can never understand it completely. All we can do is learn and experiment in response to what we’re discovering. 
  • It counteracts expertise complacency. Expertise (or perceived expertise) can get in the way of you learning from others. A curiosity mindset counteracts this, allowing individuals and organizations to create an environment conducive to continuous growth and development. If expertise is a cage, curiosity is the key. It opens you up to dynamic and innovative new ideas and methods. 

4 Practical Methods to Overcome Complacency in Business

Complacency in business can be, at best, a limiting factor and, at worst, a destructive force.
Either way, you can fight complacency by stimulating and encouraging a curiosity mindset and
showing your team how to tap into the value of curiosity in the workplace. Here's how to get

  1. Find your 'curiosity zone.'
    Practicing curiosity doesn’t mean you have to leap into unexplored territory or become a
    complete novice. Your ideal zone of curiosity will be an area in which you have some experience
    or a little knowledge but no certainty or preconceived answers. This balance keeps curiosity alive
    without you getting lost in the fog. Here, you can start trying new things and get comfortable
    with the feeling of uncertainty, recognizing what can and cannot be controlled.
  2. Bring new curiosity to old problems.
    Innovation can happen anywhere; it’s not just for discovering a totally new technology or a cure
    for cancer. Reinvent the wheel, whatever that means to your business, by thinking in new
    ways about old problems. Encourage employees to do this, too, by hosting engaging activities
    like hack-a-thons or curiosity clubs​.
  3. Collaborate with curious outsiders.
    To make a success of your curiosity mindset, you’ll need a collection of curious friends to help.
    Invite others to join your mission, ask external eyes to weigh in on your plans, and find fresh
    perspectives however you can to help you see old problems in new ways. Curiosity is
    contagious; if you surround yourself with curious people, you will start to find it easier to
    cultivate a curiosity mindset. Moreover, you’ll start to create an environment where your
    curiosity rubs off on your team.
  4. Play the long game.
    Curiosity is for life, not just for the next performance review. A curiosity mindset takes time and
    experimentation to build and nurture. It won’t solve your problems in one day. So stick with it.
    Develop a state of curiosity about your curiosity mindset — by exploring new subjects over time,
    setting up experiments, and watching the reactions. The most important method of tapping into
    the value of curiosity in the workplace is just by creating a workplace where questions are
    favored over answers and people feel safe to voice their ideas. 

    Knowledge and expertise in business can only get you so far; rely on them for too long, and your
    organization will forget how to grow. Bring new light onto those old roots by cultivating a
    curiosity mindset, not just in yourself but in your whole team.
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