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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Saving Curiosity from the Guillotine

by Stefan Lindegaard

Saving Curiosity from the GuillotineThis great topic was raised by Arthur Lok in a discussion in the Innovation Management group on LinkedIn. It made me wonder and reflect on my own level of curiosity, what this term means to me and how it effects innovation.

I think we lose our sense of curiosity as we begin to build a power base that we feel we need to protect. We have something to lose and then we begin to focus on how to protect this rather than expand and build further on what we have.

So are we just defensively minded? Such a mindset definitely make incumbents more vulnerable to new innovation brought to market by companies and entrepreneurs having nothing to loose.

I think this goes for products, services and thus corporate revenues as well as the knowledge base we build as individuals. If what we know today provides a good living perhaps we are not that open to challenge this and develop new points of view. Unfortunately, this does not work in times where just standing still is the same as getting behind - at a very fast pace.

It is fairly easy to point out what kills curiosity. I gave an example above and you can find others in the LinkedIn discussion. The more interesting question is what we can do to avoid killing our curiosity. I hope we can start a discussion on this here. Let me start off with one of my suggestions;

Try out new technologies. It took me years to get the value of cell phone texting and I am still not that good at it. In retrospect, I see this as a sign of me getting older and losing my curiosity. This lesson taught me to be open towards new technologies and not write them off as fast as I might have done.

Twitter is good example. I was initially annoyed but I stayed in there and today it gives me much value. TweetDeck is a great source of new insights - just use the search function.

What do you do to stay curious?

Editor's note: Check out our Continuous Innovation group for more interesting innovation discussions

Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.

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Blogger GCohen said...

I enjoyed your comments around curiosity. I often find in the executive coaching business that it is so much harder for my clients to change as they get older.

I am 48 and feel more like 12 and yet I know that my mind wants to settle and wait more than rush ahead with new, new things - although with that said I am still an early adapter to many things.

The place that really caught me off guard as I discuss at length in my book is when I felt I met my economic goals. The urge to defend and protect became much more my operating model than playing offense which is what helped build the enterprise to begin with.

There is a great book by two professors at Harvard called Driven. They write about how there are four major divers that are hardwired into us. To Acquire, To Bond, To Learn, and To Defend. What they have found is that when a person avoids one of those drives to long they begin to see the void in their lives. Perhaps once we have acquired so much we then move more strongly into the defend drive.

Just some musings to consider. Thanks again for your musings - they certainly inspired me to write tonight.

8:49 PM  

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