Warren Berger, the author of A More Beautiful Question, makes a case that business is in an era of “the curious leader, where success may be less about having all the answers and more about wondering and questioning.” (HBR September 2015) Leaders who have built careers on delivering solutions and knowing answers may need to develop a more inquisitive mind.
Leaders who put curiosity out in front of their behaviors and practices benefit companies of all sizes. The thirst for innovation continues to grow and is a driver. Asking questions is fundamental to innovation models such as design thinking. An additional benefit is increasing employee engagement.
John Scully, former Apple and Pepsi CEO and author of Moonshot!: Game-Changing Strategies to Build Billion-Dollar Businesses, is curious about and looks for intersections between disciplines. His choice of companies to back is tied to those he believes will make the most of those intersections. See Insigniam Quarterly’s interview with Scully.
He says “Forget about the business plan and focus on the customer plan.” Scully defines a business plan as deciding on improvements to what you already have after looking backward. He defines a customer plan as asking what really big problem you can solve for customers.
Creating a desire
Merriam-Webster defines curious as
a: marked by a desire to investigate and learn
b: marked by inquisitive interest in others’ concerns
Igniting a desire or eagerness to investigate and learn in our organizations is critical. The future belongs to those who generate this themselves and create environments and cultures which call others to do the same. What could you be curious about? Customers and what they want, virtual and augmented reality, IOT, social media platforms, and changing business models to name just a few.