As people, we are inherently curious. Even as we age, that yearning for something new causes us to travel, meet new people, maybe even wander a bit. Curiosity is a part of human nature. We all read studies (and see the evidence) of how curious children are when they are born. We also see the results of traditional educational models in curiosity. Driving children to conform to a single norm of sitting in straight-line desks and file in lines works for teachers in that in helps to control the chaos of the classroom, but if you were like me and many other entrepreneurs, conforming naturally bucked the curiosity you felt about issues that weren’t on the schedule for the teacher today.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article on Why Curiosity Matters, Francesco Gina explores curiosity and its results on business specifically. While most breakthroughs come from curiosity, she cites all the ways that business kill it in their workers. Critical to this center of thinking is the notion that “it will increase risk and inefficiency.”
Ms. Gina lays out the benefits of curiosity in work. Confirmation bias is first on the list. We’ve talked about this before. Expecting what you’ll see and seeing it, whether it’s there or not. This shows up in manufacturing all the time. We hear it called “tribal knowledge.” Many companies tell us that their workforce just “knows what to do.” That only works if you never want to change how they do it.
In training your workers to “just know,” you are eliminating the possibility of anything new. My mind immediately goes back to the days of early automation. Whether that conjures a picture of Lucy trying to wrap chocolates on an assembly line in “I Love Lucy” or assembly workers at the early days of Ford, this is not the way work is done today. In the era of click and swipe, no one wants to do a job the same way all the time.