I know it can get me into trouble sometimes, but I really think curiosity is one of my strong points.
It helped me in engineering because I was always asking, “Why does that work?”
And it has helped me in learning about human systems as I ask, “Why do people do that?”
It helps to break down arguments logically as I’m curious why would someone think that way, or what assumptions are they basing their beliefs and position on?
I guess it goes along with my drive to continually learn things. I always check out way too many books from the library than I can reasonably read, but I’ve figured out the formula: curiosity + free = lots of library books stacked everywhere.
The foundation of real learning, is that you really want to learn. And that comes from curiosity – the desire to know what is unknown.
Someone can teach you a lot of things, but if you don’t care, or don’t really want to learn, then you won’t.
Curiosity is also connected with creativity. You have to be curious about what you can create, so you create something to satisfy that curiosity. When you create something you are making something known that was previously unknown.
Seth Godin has a great, short little post about how we might be missing out by not teaching kids how to be curious, and not letting new hires ask why.
It turns out that curiosity is also the basis for improvement.
I know it’s old news so I’m sure you’ve heard about how Google employees get to spend 20% of their time on what ever they want. It’s not time to goof off, it’s actually working on a project that you either came up with yourself or that someone else came up with but you also find interesting.
I’ve just been thinking about that concept lately and how innovative and productive that would be. People always dream of being entrepreneurs and being their own boss, why not give them that thrill without all the risk and hassel of funding and other issues. For the most part, people want to do good, and they want the company they work for to do well. So if they can think of something that will benefit the company, or the group they work in, why not let them do it?
Being the boss and telling people what to do and how to do it assumes that you know more than the people you’ve hired. And if you believe that, then that means that your boss must know more than you. (Most everyone has a boss.) Now it may be true that high ranking executives or leaders are very smart and talented, but it is impossible that they are smarter in every area than every employee who works beneath them. Therefore, they ought to be harvesting the talent, skills, and knowledge of everyone in the company to make the company better, more profitable, gain more market share, have a better working environment, or whatever ‘better’ means to the company and the individuals.
And what better way to do that than to say, hey at least 20% of your time should be dedicated to improving things. I guess it really comes down to trust.
I suppose people may work on things that may not be such a good idea, but the value that is gained by the improved morale and company loyalty is worth it. Besides, there should probably be some kind of subjective evaluation to see if the effort is worthwhile. But it shouldn’t be too detailed, only enough to determine if it will cause major negative repercussions.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve decided I’m going to do if I’m ever in charge of a group of people.
There are 6 criteria for judging whether an improvement solution will be effective. (As explained by Eli Goldratt in his Webcast Series)
A solution must:
- Produce results and excellent benefits
- Be a win/win/win for all who’s collaboration is needed
- Have small risk relative to the benefits
- Be simpler than what we do now
- Have a sequence that enables people to get on board because the first actions deliver significant, immediate results
- Be one that does not self-destruct, or is blind to the dangers of success.
Of course, Goldratt has outlined a method with strategies and tactics that meets all criteria in the realm of Project Management. It is amazingly simple, but would require significant behavior changes and difficult decisions by top leaders in a large company. Still, many companies are being successful at applying his method.
Okay, maybe I don’t need to post something every day. That might be too much reading for both of you.
But I’m on a roll now, 2 days in a row. Might as well keep it up as long as I can. Besides, I need the practice.
In regards to change or improvement, sometimes we feel like this picture – we’re in soft mud. And if we stand still, like the sign, the same thing will happen to us…
…we’ll get overtaken by the status quo.
Keep moving… standing still is dangerous.