If Curiosity Drives Progress, Why Aren’t We Asking More Questions?

Our industry is often accused of being stuck in its ways, preferring to rely on the tried and trusted rather than innovation. Could a fundamental problem be that, collectively, we just aren’t curious enough?

Step one of the journey to more innovation and productivity transformation is surely to ask more questions. So why don’t we?

Imagine for a moment how it would be if your team contained more curious people. Rather than individual status depending on experience of how things have been done, what if instead it was about curiosity? Status then becomes invested with those people who aren’t content with established norms but are continuously exploring at the boundaries of what might be possible. This would surely open new possibilities to deliver better outcomes and value.

Curiosity drives progress. Einstein was famously quoted as believing he was neither clever or particularly gifted, he was just exceptionally curious. Rather than accept classical models that described the observable behaviour of energy, light, matter and gravity he had the curiosity to ask ‘what if that’s not really how it is?’

Chesley Sullenberger is another curious mind. He’s the pilot who safely landed his plane in the Hudson River in 2009 after both engines were knocked out by bird strikes. Despite being a pilot for many years he had stayed curious, seeking to learn new things every day, including how to react to different scenarios. As a result, he knew how to respond to events he’d never experienced and never thought he would. 150 passengers were very grateful for his curiosity.

Why Aren’t We More Curious?

We come into the world with no knowledge and experience. As babies we explore the world around us as our senses develop. As children we ask questions (often incessantly) about things we find it hard to make sense of. As adults we are prone to forgetting the urge to explore and question. Why is this?

A lot of this is to do with permission and authority. It could be the authority of an individual or of an organisation that determines orthodoxy. Being curious can be a challenge to that authority and can become confrontational unless you have a culture that sees the challenge as something positive.

Within Osborne we work continuously to sweep away the factors that limit curiosity, whether that’s hierarchies, lack of time, or just perceptions about what’s allowed or valued.

Our people learn and teach every day. This is good for our sense of wellbeing – getting back to our natural enquiring state of mind is enjoyable. It’s also good for our business and good for our customers.