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Curiosity - The door to innovation

Why business leaders need to nurture curiosity throughout their organization.

What makes stories like Alice in Wonderland, the Narnia Chronicles, Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking so good and everlasting? They are all fueled by curiosity. (Spoiler alert!) Alice went down the rabbit hole, Lucy was the first to enter through the closet to the magical land of Narnia, Harry Potter decides to go with Hagrid without knowing what will happen and Pippi is the most curious fearless little girl there is, constantly questioning, experimenting and trying new things, like cracking an egg on her head just to see what happens.

The future belongs to the curious.
The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it and turn it inside out.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Curiosity has always been a driving force in human history.

By being curious and always asking why, we have come up with the most incredible inventions and innovations that have led us to where we are today. Trial and error,  repeated experiments, and in the end -success! 

Kids constantly experiment. My one-year-old daughter is going through a developmental phase called the program phase, where she learns patterns of ‘if this….then what?’ Her train of thought goes, "If I put my shirt in the toilet… then it gets wet", or "If I pull all my sister's clothes out of the cabinet, then they will fall on the ground." Kids are always trying these 'if this…then what' cause and effect sequences. Inevitably, they ask, "WHY? My three-year-old is coming into this stage now. “Mum, why did the shirt get wet? Why do things fall down and not up? Why are we happy? Why are we tired? Why do you go to work? Why do we exist?” Why-why-why?

Presumptions can be detrimental to innovation. This habit of jumping to conclusions and not asking enough questions on the ‘how’; we lose the chance to evolve and improve. Curiosity is the key.

I watch her marvel at the world around her with the innocence and open-mindedness only a child can have and find myself getting more and more curious. We all went through these phases and asked our own "whys" and "hows." We got older, learned more cause and effect sequences but stopped asking "why" when we shouldn't have. Presumptions can be detrimental to innovation. This habit of jumping to conclusions without asking enough questions on the "how" have hindered our chances to evolve and improve. Curiosity is the key.

We should never stop being curious.

I heard a story about a woman; she would cut around its edges every time she would make steak. After observing this habit a few times, her boyfriend curiously asked her why she was cutting off her steak's outer edges. She stopped for a moment to think about it and then said she didn't actually know why. It was something that her mother always used to do. 

Now curious to know the answer, the woman asked her mother why she cut off her steak's outer edges. It turned out that her mother had no idea either. She said it was something her mother used to do back when she was a child. Curiosity in full force, the two women turned to the family's matriarch to find the reason behind this 'family culinary technique.' The matriarch started to laugh. She said, "Oh dear, it was because back then, we had such a small stove and such a small frying pan that I had to make the steak smaller to fit the pan." 

This story explains well how habits and presumptions can make people repeat actions that are no longer relevant or efficient. When you cease to ask 'why,'  people fall into this cycle. It takes someone who looks at things from a different perspective, someone curious, one who comes in and asks the game-changing question: why?

Always make sure your organization asks ‘why.’

Curiosity is about wanting to learn and improve, something that is firmly embedded in our culture. At Digitalist, we promote Improving by learning. One of our Digitalist values is to Explore. By integrating these in our daily lives, we ensure we stay curious and forward-thinking. Digitalist is an international house of design, tech, business specialists and eclectic companies that have fused quickly to write and design for the future. Although we come from multifaceted perspectives, our strength lies in our innate curiosity to ask "why"; it is strung into our DNA, allowing us to reach the root cause. Improvement drives company growth and profitability, and the company culture must ensure improvement by learning and exploring possibilities (for ideas) to grow. If the organizational culture is not promoting a willingness to learn or improve, it will affect its profitability.

We aim to make companies curious about the future because out of curiosity comes innovation. After all, we are the CX Innovation company, and our weapon of choice, first and foremost, is always to ask, "why?"

Learn more about how our curiosity fueled our projects: here

Original article written by Stefanie Brandt-Tallqvist. This version was adapted by Eileen Banting.

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