The ability to innovate has remained a mystery to most of our organizations. McKinsey found in its Global Innovation Survey that only 6% of surveyed managers were satisfied with their organization’s innovation performance. We hear phrases like, "That's not the way we do it here,” “our customers like it this way” or "I would love to do that but there just aren’t enough hours in the day."
The good news is that forward-thinking organizations are galvanizing creativity and innovation. And they are doing so without making large investments, taking on high levels of risk or adding significant hours to their workday.
These organizations are embracing curiosity as a core part of their culture.
Curiosity prompts us to ask 'why' and 'what if'. It encourages us to question our assumptions and try something different. It opens the door to new ways of thinking and new possibilities. Curiosity lies at the heart of all innovation.
When is the last time you questioned your long-standing beliefs about your customers? When is the last time you brought your team together and asked, “What if our assumptions are wrong?" When is the last time you reexamined ideas you had previously rejected?
By embracing curiosity, your team will be more creative and innovative. But curiosity is not something you can mandate. It is a skill and, like all skills, people must learn and practice it to become proficient.
How can you add curiosity to your culture? Set the stage, model, encourage and celebrate.
Set the Stage
Explain to your team what you’re trying to achieve and why. This may sound simple but it is the step most often overlooked because, in our excitement, we jump ahead to implementation. Discuss curiosity with your team. Explain what it is, why you’re embracing it and how it will lead to creativity, innovation and a stronger membership program.
The best way to teach a new skill is to model that skill in your own behavior. Make a habit of asking why you believe something about your customers and their behavior. Brainstorm what your organization could achieve if some assumptions were not true. And do this all in front of your teams.
Asking ‘why’ and ‘what if’ can be intimidating. Sometimes team members misinterpret the questions and feel attacked rather than inspired. As you begin embracing curiosity, create opportunities for your team to be curious together. Bring in pizza or go offsite. Praise the conversation and reward collaboration and constructive dialogue. With encouragement, curiosity will take on a life of its own within your association.
Most important, don’t forget to celebrate your successes often and loudly!
You can inspire your team to be more creative and innovative - make curiosity a key value in your culture today!