To be curious is to inquisitive as to what lies beyond the horizon of our own ignorance and understanding. It’s a primary driver of human nature, a strong motivator into action, and gets us in equal measure into hot water or cold. As we seek to unlock (or unblock) curiosity within our organisations, we should be aware of what fosters it, where it sits, what it provokes, and where the consequences may take us.
It’s yours, because it’s different from mine: curiosity may be a common driver, but the landscape that it drives through is unique to us all. Our curiosity, at an individual level, is held within the boundaries of our knowledge and understanding. But curiosity may also be held at an Organisational or Institutional level, precisely because of the way that the landscape is defined by the edges of understanding.
To put it another way, curiosity is a thing that is defined by absence rather than presence: the things of which i am certain, the landscape that is plainly in view, is not something that i am curious about. But that which is obscured, or hidden, is a fair target. So an Organisation may be curious to achieve things it is currently unable to achieve, and individuals may be curious about their role and place within that journey. Alignment of both Organisational and Individual curiosity may be a sweet spot of engagement.
As with many things, in the execution, we may become daunted, and fail. To unlock curiosity it is not enough to simply remove a wall: we may need to sketch a map, and pack for the expedition.
Curiosity, in action, is a combination of individual techniques (learned through experience), cognitive frames (developed over time, and the dissonance caused within these), bias (and the ways it blinds us to the signposts of new understanding), constraint (and the ways it is held and imposed by existing structures of power and understanding), and Dominant Narratives (and the ways that they silence emergent or weaker voices).
From an individual perspective, to explore our own curiosity is to better understand the landscape we move through. From an Organisational perspective, we must create the conditions, and equipment, for the journey. And be open to what we discover.
Written by: Julian Stodd – visit his blog for more