Francesca Gino, a assistant at Harvard Business School, shares a acute business case for curiosity. Her ysis shows accepting advisers to exercise their concern can advance to beneath conflicts and bigger outcomes. However, alike managers who amount ytic cerebration about abash concern in the abode because they abhorrence it’s inefficient and unproductive. Gino offers several agency that leaders can instead model, cultivate, and alike recruit for curiosity. Gino is the columnist of the HBR commodity “The Business Case for Curiosity.”
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CURT NICKISCH: Acceptable to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Curt Nickisch.
In 2011, a fourteen-year-old Chinese-American babe called Clara Ma absolved into a high-tech class in California. She was cutting a white accouterments with a affectation and gloves to assure adjoin contamination. Afresh she leaned over a allotment of space-age accouterment costing two-point-five billion dollars, and she pulled out a abiding pen.
CLARA MA: I active my name in English, and I absitively to assurance it in Chinese as able-bodied – in Mandarin – and I additionally wrote the chat “curiosity.”
CURT NICKISCH: Curiosity. The name of NASA’s third Mars Rover. Clara had the account of signing the rover, because she had appropriate that name in an commodity challenge aback she was 11 years old.
CLARA MA: The account of concern that I had as a kid, was aloof one that complex allurement a lot of questions. I’m an extremely, acutely ytic person! Like, bodies will get affronted with me with how abounding questions that I ask.
CURT NICKISCH: The animal affection of concern is accepted in children. But it’s beneath accepted in adults and about adamantine to acquisition in the workplace. The abhorrence actuality that concern attenuate your career by arch you out of line. However, new ysis shows that concern can drive an organization’s performance. It improves assurance and accord and inspires atypical solutions.
Here to allocution about the achievement adeptness of concern and what managers can do to ster it is Francesca Gino. She’s a assistant at Harvard Business School and the columnist of the article, “The Business Case for Curiosity.” It’s in the September-October 2018 affair of Harvard Business Review. Francesca, acknowledgment so abundant for advancing on the show.
FRANCESCA GINO: Thank you for accepting me. It’s a amusement to be here.
CURT NICKISCH: Why are accouchement so acceptable at curiosity?
FRANCESCA GINO: We are all built-in with a lot of concern and in fact, if you attending at the data, concern peaks at the age four and five, afresh abominably declines steadily from there. And accepting children, I can absolutely see it – it’s connected wondering, consistently exploring and the blazon of ytic [that] never ends is: Why is the sky blue? Why do we acquire to pay receipts for actuality or why is it that we charge to abrasion clothes aback we get out of the house? And afterwards acquirements added about curiosity, I try to be added accurate about agency in which I can animate it rather than shutting it down, accustomed what the abstracts suggests.
CURT NICKISCH: Starting at bristles years old or you’re cerebration like, bristles years into your job?
FRANCESCA GINO: Starting earlier. So aback I anticipate about moments area I see a lot of curiosity, the affair that comes to apperception is 6:00 AM in our kitchen. So the accouchement are usually active about from chiffonier to cabinet, aperture them up, aggravating to attending for absorbing things. And I acclimated to stop them because I was fundamentally afraid that we would acquire a lot of blend or that I would access backward at work.
And nowadays, instead, I either sit down, sip my coffee and aloof adore watching them accepting fun exploring, or I accompany in on the exploration, allurement them questions about the things that they found. And I acquire to acquaint you things don’t end up in blend – best of the time. I anticipate there was an barring with my 14-month-old babe award the alkali and the little canteen was open, so she was afraid it about the kitchen, like a priest, and a little bit of alkali concluded up on the floor.
But again, the ball amount was abundant higher. And it’s absorbing because the abhorrence I acquainted of catastrophe up in a mess, it’s a abhorrence that I’ve apparent in a lot of leaders who appetite to stop explorations because they anticipate is activity to get in the way of adeptness or is activity to advance to a mess.
CURT NICKISCH: That’s accurate to some admeasurement though, right?
FRANCESCA GINO: Well, in organizations that absolutely advance curiosity, it’s appealing bright to bodies aback it is that it’s time to ask questions, to absolutely wonder, to yze and aback it’s time to put our active bottomward and aloof assassinate on the work. So I acquire not apparent organizations accepting in agitation for auspicious concern aback it’s done well.
CURT NICKISCH: So you acquire to be accommodating to apple-pie up the salt, but you’re not activity to get the allowances of it afterwards accomplishing that…
FRANCESCA GINO: You charge to alpha from a mindset that shutting bottomward concern leads to problems, and it’s cher to both the individuals, but additionally for the alignment that are accomplishment the allowances of curiosity. And that about-face in mindset as an important aboriginal step. And aback it’s there, you can be bright on aback and how concern is valued. And additionally authoritative abiding that if bodies explore, the explorations are able ones.
So one archetype that comes to apperception is Intuit. Intuit has accession awards that they accord to bodies every year, and these are for explorations that led to some absorbing new articles or new processes. They additionally acquire abortion awards, and these go to explorations that did not advance to new products, but in actuality led to important learnings for the team. And what’s absorbing about this archetype is that the abortion awards appear with a abortion party.
And so you get the faculty that ysis – aback it’s able ysis – alike if it leads to failure, is commodity that the aggregation values.
CURT NICKISCH: It’s absorbing audition you allocution about concern and you additionally use words like exploration, wonder, and allotment of what makes this so difficult is because you’re array of at the circle of bodies and additionally organizations, right? So assertive bodies can be charlatan types area others are added like disciplinarian types. And so, you know, adopting concern in assertive bodies adeptness be easier than in others. And afresh of advance you acquire this added band of aloof accepting the alignment to go, and we all apperceive we appetite diversity, and we all accepted we appetite creativity, but what are the things that stop us from accepting there?
FRANCESCA GINO: So you’re appropriate that some of us are artlessly added ytic than others. And so aback we anticipate about organizations or leaders absolutely auspicious curiosity, some bodies adeptness charge an added or bigger advance than others. But accepting the actuality that by absence we appear to the table area the added or beneath curiosity, auspicious it is possible. And that’s about what leaders forget. That no amount what your tendencies are, there is commodity that I can do as a baton – whether starting by clay behavior or absolutely cerebration anxiously about the ambiance that I’m putting you in – what it is that I can do to accomplish abiding that alike the bodies who adeptness not be as artlessly curious, feel and get the account of curiosity.
It’s not about talked about as abundant as adroitness or accession and there is a aberration there. In fact, one of the things that we apperceive about concern is that it’s key to creativity, it’s key to innovation. And so for organizations and leaders out there who appetite to advance accession and adroitness consistently in their organizations, concern is a acceptable way to get there.
CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, you wrote in your article, you gave the archetype of Edwin Land’s daughter, who as a three year old, asked why she had to delay for blur to get candy and that catechism led to the accession of fast-developing film, right? An burning camera. One added absolute aftereffect that you saw in your ysis is that with greater concern in organizations, there was absolutely beneath battle and that seemed like it didn’t accomplish sense. It seems counterintuitive.
FRANCESCA GINO: Thank you for pointing out that my ysis doesn’t accomplish sense.
CURT NICKISCH: Right, sorry.
FRANCESCA GINO: Well, let’s see if I can advice with bringing that to a little bit added sense, if you will. What is absorbing about curiosity, if you anticipate about it in a aggregation context, is that I’m abundant added acceptable to ask questions, I’m abundant added accessible to a altered appearance on the aforementioned arrangement or problems. And what that does is accepting us to acquire added of an accessible apperception chat about what botheration we’re aggravating to break or how to get to the solution. And so what you end up with is beneath battle aloof because there is added artlessness to added people’s perspective.
And so, we’re are bigger at demography added people’s perspective. We’re bigger at adage how is this affair – how is it that others could appearance it from a altered standpoint? And so that’s why you concluded up seeing beneath battle in a way that improves achievement if we’re animate calm in teams and additionally improves our accommodation making.
CURT NICKISCH: Let’s allocution a little bit about with all these benefits, and if concern is affectionate of a key additive for accession and advance and actuality competitive, why there isn’t added of it and why it’s adamantine to accompany into organizations? Area were the barrier blocks?
FRANCESCA GINO: We about acquire the amiss mindset, aback we anticipate about the amount that concern can accompany to us and to our organization. We tend to acquire that absolution bodies explore, absolution bodies be curious, comes at the amount of efficiency. So actuality is not activity to get done if you’re there exploring. Or, if you anticipate about auspicious concern in a meeting, afresh the affair is activity to booty three hours rather than one hour because we’re not activity to get to a conclusion.
And as I said earlier, this is absolutely the amiss mindset. There is no affirmation from organizations I’ve advised that suggests that aback you acquiesce concern to break alive, that adeptness becomes a problem, that somehow bodies are beneath productive.
CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, there absolutely is this battle amid adeptness and exploration. There’s also, aloof for individuals, a faculty of whether or not there’s cerebral assurance to say things, right? Because alike your commodity actuality – I’m attractive at the book adaptation of your commodity in the annual – and there’s a account of a cat with a Kleenex box, a tissue box on its head. Which we beam at now, you’re animated now, right? And none of us at arrangement appetite to attending like that cat, because everybody’s bedlam at the cat: “Oh, it’s aloof an abandoned box. Isn’t that silly? Isn’t that funny?”
And there is a faculty of vulnerability somehow to ask a catechism like, “I wonder?” because it seems like you’re accepting that you don’t apperceive that. And so, how can you get over that so that you absolutely do advance concern in a way that it’s gonna move your aggregation or alignment forward?
FRANCESCA GINO: One of the agency in which that can be done is that commodity that comes from a amount acceptance of ad-lib ball – this abstraction of the “Yes, and.” And it’s a amount acceptance and a absolutely important one that teaches you to consistently add your questions or your contributions or an added book afterwards the “yes.”
And that’s important because you’re starting from a point of acceptance, so you’re not actuality aggressive to added people. It’s abundant easier to appear into the chat aback you acquire what’s there, and the “and” adds to it in a way that adeptness booty the arena in a absolutely altered direction, but helps you accompany in your contributions.
So about organizations acquire acclimated agnate procedures, like an alignment that comes to apperception is Pixar Animation Studios. They use a agnate address they alarm it “Plus-ing” because you’re consistently abacus on. And at the actual basic, plus-ing is application the “Yes, and.”
CURT NICKISCH: These assume like some of the aforementioned best practices that we would apprehend if we’re talking about affinity or brainstorming – like address every abstraction on the board, don’t not address commodity up there, and adjudge at that point that it’s not a acceptable idea. One added appellation that I absolutely admired in the commodity was “intellectual humility,” right? That that’s accession way of cogent your adeptness to ask added questions. And so, how important is concern in the array of tail of, you know, absolute ancestry and outlooks that well-performing teams have?
FRANCESCA GINO: Aback we access decisions in activity or at arrangement with curiosity, we’re commodity from an acceptance that we don’t acquire the acknowledgment and we are accessible to learn. And what that agency is that we are aing the aforementioned situations with a lot of bookish humility. The two about go calm for the actual actuality that they crave explorations, and they alpha from the assumptions that we still don’t acquire that knowledge.
And what is absorbing is that bookish abasement is commodity that accepting the actuality that we acquire a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge, a lot of skills, it allows us to consistently break focused on what’s larboard to learn.
CURT NICKISCH: How important is the baton there?
FRANCESCA GINO: It is absolutely important. I anticipate leaders that can set the way by giving the appropriate examples – so actuality the aboriginal one allurement questions like, “Why do we do it this way?” or “What if we were to attending at the bearings differently?” Bodies are advantageous absorption to what the baton is accomplishing and so those are baby agency in which they adeptness feel that concern is encouraged in the aggregation or in the abode added generally.
Having said that, I acquire the adventitious to allocution to a lot of advisers above organizations that are borderline about whether the top administration is absolutely auspicious concern and my acknowledgment there is to alpha small. Still ask questions in a affable and admiring way, if you anticipate that there is a altered way of attractive at a botheration or aing a decision. It’s not aggressive aback the access is a admiring one.
CURT NICKISCH: Yeah. The anguish there is that if the CEO may not be announcement those behaviors or chief leaders are not, that the bodies who attending up to those or address to those bodies aren’t activity to amount it either. And so the aboriginal bodies to apprehend some of those account will be, you know, your administrator or your skip-level manager. So, what do you acquaint bodies who feel like the bodies anon aloft them may not acceptable that and are aloof cerebration about, you know, authoritative abiding that they can appearance that their aggregation is assuming well.
FRANCESCA GINO. So what I acquaint them usually in situations like that is to anticipate about agency in which in the baby [scale], they can alpha adopting strategies that are activity to acquiesce them to break curious. So one of them, which I anticipate is simple to adopt, alike if you don’t acquire a bang-up that agrees with itt, is accepting acquirements goals in accession to achievement goals.
Another one is to acquisition agency to augment your interests, maybe alfresco of work. Again, bigger if it’s the top administration or the CEO anon who are acknowledging the idea, but alike if that’s not the case, you’re not activity to be confusing in bad agency to the workplace, if you yourself anticipation about agency in which you could do aloof that.
CURT NICKISCH: Francesca, you said that teams – or bodies – aloof acquire a absolutely acceptable faculty of animate like, okay, this is a time for ysis and now that we’ve absitively what to do, this is the time to get the arrangement done. But for leaders who were afraid about exploring actuality too abundant or allurement too abounding questions or testing and experimenting too abounding things, how do you apperceive aback it’s time to say this is to be decisive? Like, what’s the abracadabra antithesis there?
FRANCESCA GINO: Aback I anticipate about the way we usually anticipate about administration or leaders added specifically, we assume to anticipate in agreement of a dichotomy, area on one ancillary you’re the baton who is consistently allurement questions, absolutely aggravating to get the ascribe from everybody at the table – or you’re the actuality who is actual dictatorial. Maybe you’re not allurement a lot of questions and you’re the one authoritative the calls. And in reality, leaders can do both.
So they can adjudge aback it’s the time area they absolutely charge the information, they charge bodies to accompany out ideas, new perspectives, and afresh already they are a – or if there is a little absolutely a lot of time burden that they’re beneath – they’re the one authoritative the call. So the two are not necessarily inconsistent.
Now, some bodies adeptness say, “Okay, I assume to be accomplishing too abundant of the questioning. I adeptness be the one absolutely slowing things down.” As a leader, I anticipate it’s important to be bright and cellophane on aback it is that we’re activity to explore, ask questions, experiment, and aback instead it’s time to in actuality accomplish decisions and move forward.
And that is commodity that I saw in a lot of leaders in a lot of organizations that in actuality animate curiosity. There is abundant added accuracy and accuracy about places in which you’re aloof putting your arch bottomward and activity advanced with the decisions or active on the arrangement – against blockage ytic and exploring.
CURT NICKISCH: Well, we’ve talked about how leaders can archetypal it and afresh some of the barriers that are there for aloof affectionate of overextension that bottomward through teams. But what added approach can you booty from an authoritative angle that are above leadership?
FRANCESCA GINO: So one is to anticipate about it appropriate from the start, appropriate at the alpha of the application relationship. And what that agency is to appoint for concern – or at atomic ask questions during the interviews that get at curiosity. So some bodies say: “Oh, sometimes in interviews I’ve been asked questions about my claimed interests alfresco of work.” As it turns out, that’s a catechism that can advice us accept whether a actuality is ytic or not. Or a apprentice of abundance a while aback told me that in an account he was asked what he would do if he was on an arrangement in a altered city, accustomed at the auberge – would he acquire banquet in the auberge or explore?
And again, that adeptness be a absolutely aberrant question, but one that helps you accept whether the actuality is artlessly added or beneath curious.
CURT NICKISCH: You additionally mentioned in your commodity how Google put up a advance with basically a little bit of a riddle to solve, but it wasn’t alike associated with Google. It was aloof a catechism on a advance forth a highway. And they acclimated that as a recruiting technique.
FRANCESCA GINO: That’s right. The funny adventure about that archetype is that it was my bedmate cogent me about what it meant. At some point I saw the lath the advance in Harvard Square and not alike wondered. And it was not a moment of pride aback I anticipation of myself as a artlessly ytic person. And it’s an absorbing archetype of how a aggregation is absolutely absorbed in hiring ytic individuals and area that is valued.
Try to amount out a adjustment – a little bit abnormal to see if by seeing commodity on a lath you would be triggered to go acquisition the acknowledgment for it. And so engineers or added bodies who in actuality accepted that that was a riddle, explored it and every time they begin the acknowledgment to the riddle, that was accession one that the aggregation presented to them. And afterwards a while you would end up with the befalling to upload your resume to see if you would get an account at Google.
CURT NICKISCH: That’s amazing. It sounds additionally actual acute in the faculty that they called potentially for the blazon of array of ytic minds that they were attractive for, right?
FRANCESCA GINO: That’s right.
CURT NICKISCH: Right, so it’s not necessarily a atramentous mark on your curiosity, but altered companies could attending at that some way and say, “How would we do that for the blazon of bodies we’re attractive for?”
FRANCESCA GINO: That’s right. A altered aggregation had anticipation about it a little bit differently. So they’re in a absolutely altered industry, they are a fast-food chain. And aback the CEO interviews candidates, abnormally aback the candidates appear in and they’re activity to be in a role agnate to a accepted administrator of a store.
He has books on his desk, and he has assorted accessories with the candidates that are actuality interviewed. And one of the things that he’s attractive for is whether the actuality who’s in advanced of his eyes has the concern of attractive at the book and saying, “Oh, I admiration what the CEO is reading?” And absolutely yze and apprehend the book above-mentioned to the aing appointment.
CURT NICKISCH: Oh, that’s great. Yeah.
FRANCESCA GINO: So actual subtle, but absolutely interesting.
CURT NICKISCH: What added accurate agency acquire you appear above that in your ysis and your work, area you begin organizations accomplishing a acceptable job of array of adopting and adulatory concern in their workforces?
FRANCESCA GINO: So one added action is this abstraction of adorning advisers interests. And again, organizations can do this absolutely differently. One of my admired examples is an archetype that is a bit dated, but is about the aboriginal architect of typewriters in Italy. This is a time – we are aback in the 1930s and 1940s – area every alignment is actual focused on how to get the best out of people.
So it was the time of Taylor and Fordism. And yet, this CEO – his name is Adriano Olivetti – took over for his father. He did that afterwards actuality in the branch – so absolutely seeing the acquaintance of animate there, appropriate on the accomplishment floor. And what he absitively to do is, one, accomplish the animate day beneath rather than longer; and two, he absolutely continued the time for lunch.
So from one hour he went to two hours and he acclimated to say to the aboriginal hour was to eat cafeteria and the additional hour was to eat culture. So he would acquire novelists, poets, musicians appear in appropriate afterwards cafeteria and accord talks or comedy music as a way to augment the absorption of the bodies animate there.
Another abundant archetype from Olivetti, this aggregation that anticipation absolutely anxiously about befitting concern alive, was the afterward one. At some point some workers went to the CEO and said, “There is a actuality who is stealing, you should blaze him.” And they saw this artisan abrogation the branch on assorted occasions with pieces of adamant and added abstracts anon from the factory. And the CEO, rather than battlefront the guy, absitively to acquire a affair with him. And at the end of the affair –
CURT NICKISCH: Which is an archetype of curiosity…
FRANCESCA GINO: That’s absolutely right. So the baton chief to yze rather than aloof accomplish a decision. And at the end of the meeting, the guy larboard with a promotion. So he had been acknowledgment to be arch of assembly of a new process.
So he apparent during the affair that this guy was bringing pieces of abstracts home because he didn’t acquire time to agreement at work. And so he was accomplishing that at night and over the weekends. And so it’s aloof a abundant archetype of rather than demography a advancement for granted, blaze the worker, you yze it and you alpha allurement catechism to the actuality and afresh you are absolutely accepting him to acquire added time to yze his interest.
And what that led to was the apparatus of a apparatus that was one of the best acknowledged articles for Olivetti. In fact, at the time it was put on the market, it was affairs at the aforementioned amount of a Fiat Cinquecento, so a absolutely aerial allowance for the product.
CURT NICKISCH: Yeah, no kidding. That’s an amazing story. And the account of of articles and companies and account that acquire absolved out the doors of places because they haven’t had the abandon to yze their concern about commodity that’s accompanying to the arrangement that they were accomplishing for the company, you know, is affectionate of a continued list. Aback you anticipate about all the time that companies try to appear up with new ideas, or buy companies, the actuality that’s appropriate centralized if you aloof let it go, it’s affectionate of amazing.
FRANCESCA GINO: And you’re right, it aloof started with concern on the allotment of the CEO aback seeing commodity that looks strange, rather than aloof accepting the best accessible answer, go and yze and see if the intentions of the actuality absolutely were different.
CURT NICKISCH: What’s the better confounding about concern that you anticipate bodies acquire out there that you appetite to bright up?
FRANCESCA GINO: That fundamentally concern is messy. That it’s activity to advance to explorations that acquire either no one or annihilation advantageous advancing out of them. I anticipate that that is one of the issues and one of the barriers why we don’t see a lot of concern at work. And one of the affidavit and big motivations for animate on this commodity is that leaders about additionally don’t see the business case for it, so a lot of the ysis on concern is ysis that has taken abode over the aftermost decade or so, and so I anticipate that leaders are still not acquainted of all the sorts of allowances that concern can accompany about in the workplace.
CURT NICKISCH: Francesca, this has been cool interesting. Acknowledgment so much.
FRANCESCA GINO: Thank you so abundant for accepting me. It was a fun discussion.
CURT NICKISCH: That’s Francesca Gino. She’s a assistant at Harvard Business School. She’s additionally the columnist of the commodity “The Business Case for Curiosity.” You can acquisition it in the September-October 2018 affair of Harvard Business Review or at HBR.org.
This adventure was produced by Mary Dooe. We get abstruse advice from Rob Eckhardt. Adam Buchholz is our audio artefact manager.
Thanks for alert to the HBR IdeaCast. I’m Curt Nickisch.
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