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Corporate Curiosity

Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino writes in the most recent edition of Harvard Business Review about the benefits of, obstacles to, and strategies to cultivate organizational curiosity as a source of value creation:


1. Research demonstrates that curiosity at the workplace benefits firms in the following ways:

Sa. Fewer decision-making errors such as confirmation-bias and stereotyping where employees act with curiosity

b. Where employees are encouraged on a daily basis to ask "why" and "how" at work, they came up with more creative suggestions and solutions to work problems than the control group.

c. Where curiosity is encouraged, employees consider other perspectives and ideas, and listen and share more openly, thereby reducing group conflicts and improving collaboration.

2. Barriers to curiosity at the workplace:

a. Managerial fear of losing control and upsetting status quo

b. Managerial focus on efficiency in current operations to the exclusion of new methods and initiatives

3. Five Strategies to encourage curiosity within organizations.

a. Hire for curiosity- screen applicants for curiosity and closely related traits such as empathy and varied interests. (E.g., Google's random billboard puzzle leading to interviews.)

b. Have managers model curiosity by publicly seeking employee input on managerial tasks.

c. Emphasize learning goals and collaborative development goals instead of just performance goals. E.g., Deloitte's addition of regular meetings with a development coach to whom employees are accountable.

d. Give employees company time and company space to explore and expand their social networks and interest.

e. Have "why" and "what if" group exercises and group sessions.

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