Does your company have a culture of curiosity? If not, it should.

Over the holidays, I took my boys on a couple of science “field trips:” one to the LA Science Center to see the space shuttle Endeavour (a must-see) and one to the Sea Lab in Redondo Beach, where they got a personal tour and got to touch, and learn about, some cool sea life.

At the Sea Lab, I stood there taking pictures and listening to the kids ask questions, lots of questions. They are both “science kids” and love anything science. My older son could probably teach the folks at the Sea Lab a thing or two about sea life, and yet he’s still the most-inquisitive kid.

Bear with me. I promise I have a point here.

They are always asking questions… who was X? why? how did they do that? how much longer? when? what if?  Etc. You name it, they ask it. If you have kids, you know the drill.

When we’re in the car, they tend to ask me questions for which I don’t have answers. If I don’t have the answer, I say, “Google it when we get home.” Of course, by then they’ve forgotten about it. It’s gotten to the point where I gave them a notebook to keep in the car so they can write down the questions (that I can’t answer) when they think of them. But they aren’t interested in doing that. They want the answers now, when the thoughts cross their minds. Why? Because by the time we get home, they’ve asked me 10 more questions.

What’s the point? There are three.

First, it occurred to me that their curiosity is infectious and, hey, I’ve learned a few things, too! They make me think of stuff I never think about or haven’t thought of in years. Second, we don’t know everything. And finally, we should always have an inquisitive mind in order to stretch the limits of what we know and what we’re doing.

Are there things being done within, or by the people in, your company that you haven’t thought about for years? Well, it’s time! That infectious curiosity I mentioned is something any organization can harness, embrace, and use to excel. I’m going to refer to it as a Culture of Curiosity. (I’m sure I’m not the first.) Set aside outside-in or inside-out thinking for a moment and do some upside-down thinking. Toss everything you know on its heels and think about it in a different way.

If companies are constantly asking questions, they get to:

  1. Learn more about their customers and employees
  2. Better understand customer and employee needs
  3. Learn about partners, the market, emerging trends, etc.
  4. Ideate and innovate
  5. Create new/better products, features, and services
  6. Eliminate processes and policies that are harmful to the experience
  7. Change the way you do business (for the better)

Don’t keep things status quo for the sake of comfort, convenience, or keeping things status quo. If you keep doing the same thing, you’re going to keep getting the same results, right? With some of the statistics about customer experience as bad as they continue to be, I think companies are continuing to do the same thing. It’s time to start asking some serious questions. And not being afraid of the answers – or the consequences and changes as a result.

Encourage open thinking and communication. Don’t stifle or squash new ideas just because they aren’t what “you usually do.” Hire people who come from different backgrounds or industries. Look for questions and curiosity from all corners of the organization. Break the mold, turn things upside down, and stay curious!!

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. -Walt Disney Company