Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs were thought-leaders from our past, fuelled by curiosity and critical thinking. They are proof that hungry minds will thrive. In today’s fast-paced business world filled with ruthless competition, to be curious about how things work is essential. This can unlock the true potential of innovation, which can lead to positive business growth. Here are some tips to help you enhance the feeling of curiosity and ways to foster the culture of critical thinking at your workplace.
For Personal Development
#1 Have An Open Mind
To have a curious mind, it’s essential to keep your mind open. No matter how smart or knowledgeable you are, be receptive to learn, unlearn and relearn – it’s the only way for you to acquire apprehension. Let’s take the advice from The Ancient One, Dr Strange’s mentor : “Forget everything that you think you know.”
#2 Question Things Relentlessly
Dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you by asking questions – What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? Don’t ever hesitate to do so. The answers might lead you to an exciting new world.
#3 Be Enthusiastic About Everything
Enthusiasm will allow you to be more interested in a certain topic. Don’t expect them to be boring, a waste of time or irrelevant for you. To do that, discover new challenges and possibilities – even when people see it as the end of the road. The best part about feeling enthusiastic is that it’s contagious. You can’t deny the powerful influence it has on your behaviour. So, if you feeling a little blue, surround yourself with people or surroundings that project positivity.
#4 Polish Your Mind
Curiosity can increase creativity and productivity. So, why not keep your mind polished with new ideas, inspirations and opinions regularly? You can do this by reading an article or a book or by talking to like-minded people. You can also listen to talks that might ignite that inquisitiveness in you. One good place to start is TED.
For Innovative Business Culture
#1 Instill Passion
Without it, your team is just a mere clock-punching machine. Everything created begins with passion – to contribute and make a difference. For instance, Pixar wanted to reinvent the animated film industry by matching beautiful graphics and compelling storylines and AirAsia encouraged inclusiveness with its ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’ motto.
As a leader, explain this sense of purpose to your team. You don’t want them to be doing things just because you said so – which will definitely kill their eagerness in the snap of a finger.
#2 Welcome Ideas
Engage employees by encouraging them to share creative ideas at any time, in any form. Better yet, organise brainstorming sessions. This encourages people to share their ideas in the first flush of enthusiasm. People tend to be more engaged and involved when they know their opinions or ideas matters.
Take 3M as an example. This multinational powerhouse expects every employee to use 15% of their time to be creative and explore new ideas.
#3 Practice Freedom
Be open to everyone’s perspective. Similarly, give employees the authority to try new ways to do their jobs. According Harvard Business Review’s article, an employee who has to run every tiny detail by her/his boss for approval will quickly become numb to the creative process.
Plus, leaders who are stuck in their ways and resistant to different perspectives are less likely to lead their businesses to new heights. Be open to everyone’s perspective and extend trust. The key is to provide a clear message of what results you are looking for or what problem you want the team to solve.
#4 Acknowledge Failures
One reason employees often don’t express their ideas is that they don’t want to rock the boat or be at fault if something doesn’t work out. Tolerate mistakes and expect failure, and reward lessons learned. Ideas don’t always work the first time and a lot can be discovered. As what Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.”
#5 Diverse Perspectives
Perspectives outside of your department can bring fresh eyes, different strengths and create breakthroughs. More often than not, a question from someone with a different point of view is just what an individual or a team needs to move a project forward or tackle the challenge at hand.
Since 2001, IBM’s innovation jams have allowed hundreds of thousands of IBM employees around the world to connect and come up with innovative solutions to solve various company-related problems. The company has found the innovation jam to be quite successful.
Perhaps you can now see how being curious and thinking critically can lead to being more innovative. Those traits can lead you to visualising entirely new ways of doing things and a happier team that can innovate and create better.