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Paul D. Roberts, Synecticsworld

By Paul D. Roberts

I am curious about curiosity. Can it be taught? It is such a crucial element of innovation. A team without curiosity is going to lack the proactive tendency to explore uncharted areas, and there is so much serendipity that comes from pure wondering in the act of exploring (it is why Steve Jobs put the bathrooms in a central place).

For innovation, be it new products, new services, or ground-breaking business models, the idea is to “create” the future. That creativity comes from swimming in a sea of stimuli, reaching, grabbing, and trying to inductively see patterns, then force out something new. It’s dirty, messy, unpredictable, and like driving in the fog! So, you had better be curious, otherwise you won’t have the stomach for the journey.

As designers and facilitators of innovation sessions, we can curate and surround our clients with as much stimuli as possible, but it is their curiosity that drives their will to explore. It is the old getting-the-horse-to-drink-once-you-have-led-it-to-water challenge. I believe it is best to start with a thirsty horse – i.e. make sure that curiosity is a key trait of the members of your innovation team.

Curiosity can be driven by the joy of exploring, by pure ambition, or a simple desire to get out of a difficult position. Whatever the driving force, it needs to be strong enough for the “seeker-mindset” to be awoken in each team member. Why? Because the magic happens outside of their comfort zones, and it’s messy out there.

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