By: Lara Loucks, Certified Professional in Learning and Performance
Genuine curiosity about other people is an underlying theme for the SASSY Technique that I shared in the last newsletter. It supports one aspect of leveraging curiosity for business results: face-to-face (F2F) networking. The financial benefits of F2F networking can be measured in new client business, salary increases or a new job, and even collaborative efforts that minimize cost through economies of scale. Bottom-line: being selflessly curious about other people increases business. The following are three excerpts from my upcoming book, Chase It! Leveraging Curiosity for Business Results due out in the Summer of 2015.
“It started during the completion of my Coaching Certificate with the American Society for Training and Development back in 2010. We were a group of 20 individuals from all over the country in Virginia for a two-day Coaching workshop. On the first day, our facilitator gave us a listening exercise. The assignment was to partner with the person next to us; one person was the coach and one person was the client. Brian, my client partner, shared a workflow problem and as the coach I was ONLY allowed ask questions. No giving advice, no statements, no comments. After debriefing the exercise, the other participants found it strange to only ask questions. For me, it was…well…fun. Brian actually figured out another option for his workflow problem and all I had to do was sit there and ask questions. Too easy. This brought back a fleeting memory from my childhood ‘Why? Phase’ at the age of four. Lemme tell ya, my dad went the distance. He kept answering my questions, often with scientific answers that I still don’t understand today, till I fell asleep. Perhaps that was the turning point and being given unfettered permission to ask questions till I passed out instilled a “curiosity safe zone.” Snapping back in to present day, I wondered if we have a harder time being curious as we age. Then I wondered why our curiosity wanes. Then I wondered what we were ordering for lunch.”
“There are several books, dissertations, and opinions on the topic of curiosity. The top two, so far, that are closest in tying curiosity to business results are Masterful Coaching (Hargrove) and Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go (Kaye and Winkle). Todd Kashdan, author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, is a speaker and thought leader around the subject of curiosity. During his 2012 TEDx Talk in the Netherlands, Becoming a mad scientist with your life he encourages an attitude of curiosity and walks the audience through an exercise to reframe the discomfort that comes with your own negative thoughts. It is an effective exercise for turning curiosity inward. He also mentions finding ‘safe havens’ and creating relationships with people who will withhold judgment when you confide in them. Relationships that allow you explore and discover without hindrance. He’s right. Warren Bennis, often referred to as father of the modern leadership movement, is also right. On the very last page of his book, On Becoming a Leader, he lists what the next generation of leaders will have in common. Second only to ‘broad education’ is—boundless curiosity. So…how are you becoming a leader with boundless curiosity that also creates save havens within your relationships?”
“Organizations that rely on innovation are inadvertently tying curiosity to the bottom line in a fancy way. Sakichi Toyoda developed the 5 Whys Technique for solving problems and Taiichi Ohno, author of Toyota Production System explains in detail the value of the 5 Whys method. Yes, it is an incredible and simple tool. Yet it is one of the few simple tools. We’ve made it so complicated and unsafe to be curious that we don’t want to do it, so we don’t do it, and then we forget how to do it.”
Lara Loucks is a talent development professional and author with over 20 years of experience. Expertise includes: managing the training function and organizational knowledge; developing and delivering training programs; improving human performance and coaching; career planning and talent management; measuring and evaluating; and facilitating organizational change through effective project management. She holds the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance and Competent Communicator designations plus a Masters of Business Administration. Currently she serves as the Director of Training and Development for the South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union and owner of SkillzNow. She can be reached at (786) 444-5432 or Lara_Loucks@yahoo.com.