So far, we’ve covered the importance of providing your people Access to what they need and the value of aiming for Better in your organization in incremental ways and how that can often succeed when other things fail.
For all of my fellow fans of the TV show The Office, it took everything I had to not want to title this “C is for suspension”. If you aren’t familiar with the show, just ignore that. But if you are, I’m sure you can see Kevin saying that. Anyway…
Today, with the letter C we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics: Curiosity.
I’ve always loved the power of Curiosity and the impact it can make on the world around those who are curious.
As skill sets go, being naturally curious is up there because it flows out into so many aspects of business.
And it doesn’t cost anything to learn to be more curious. Just learn to ask more and better questions, to dig deeper, to wonder more about the world and how it works, etc.
When your team members are curious, they will give the extra effort to try to solve problems on their own. They will lift up the rocks in your organization and look underneath them, pull back the curtains and see the inner workings.
Curious people see things that others don’t… simply because they are looking. They are ALWAYS looking.
Their eyes catch the details. They notice why the website is buggy, why the parts aren’t coming out right, why the customer isn’t responding to that email.
They aren’t OK with answers like “that’s how we’ve always done it”, “that’s just what the procedure says” and “that’s not an option”.
They ask the question that we grew up asking: Why.
And they ask it early and often. Why is their constant companion. They need to know the background, collect all the data, talk to all the people.
Curious people may step on toes, ruffle feathers and stir the pot. But it’s usually because they are growth-minded and want to make things better.
Want to help your organization thrive?
Hire naturally curious people. Encourage and empower the people you have to be curious. And learn to be more curious yourself. When people are around others who are more curious, it will often rub off on them. Sometimes they just need someone to model what curious thinking and questions look like.
Well, I could talk about curiosity for hours… but I won’t.
Tomorrow we jump into another great topic in our ABC’s of Engineering Your Business.
Curious? Stop back tomorrow to find out more.
If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.
Curiosity is one of the most valuable skills you and your team members can have. It leads to positive change, new ideas, streamlined systems and clarified communication.
Notes from today’s show:
Welcome back to the Engineering Your Business podcast, the show that helps business leaders like you do more with what you have.
I’m your host Shawn Washburn.
Do you remember your child’s first word? If you don’t have kids, do you remember your own first word?
It might have been “mama” or “dada” or “blah” or something like that. So precious. So sweet. “Oh, she just said her first word!”
Every parents loves that first word (unless of course it was “mama” and you’re the dad).
But most parents despise the first question.
Oh, that first question that children learn and then use over… and over… and over.
I think you know it. It’s “why”.
“OK, Billy, time to get your PJs on” “But why?”
“Because it’s time to go to bed” “But why?”
“Because you need to get your sleep” “But why?”
“Because… honey, you want to step in here at some point?” “Why should honey step in?”
You get the picture. If toddlers have a PR problems it’s the “why” problem. Why can’t they just be satisfied with my first answer!!! we think to ourselves… after we’ve put them to bed finally and settled down for some Netflix.
But what I think is so cool is that we are born with a natural curiosity. Remember that kid that had to be told to ask “why?” Yeah, me neither. It just comes natural to us when we’re little. After all, we spend nine months in this warm, dark little pool and then suddenly we’re yanked out, surrounded by a room full of people staring at us, wrapped into a little cloth and left to try to figure out “what in the world just happened”.
It’s natural that we should want some answers. And now. Unfortunately (or fortunately for most parents), kids can’t actually articulate the word why for several months. Kind of like a gracious breather for parents before the onslaught.
But all the parental frustration aside, it’s pretty amazing to watch little kids operate like that and it’s a skill that I believe is one of the most important to have… and yet is often so rare. Curiosity.
Maybe it’s because it’s been beaten out of us by the time we’re 4 (“Stop asking why!!”).
Or maybe it’s because the world becomes more familiar and slows down a little bit for us and we just settle into an understanding of it. Or so we think.
We feel we know what’s going on or accept what we’re told and we just go with the flow.
Or maybe we used to ask questions but got in trouble for it and lost that curiosity.
Whatever it happened to it, it’s something I believe is crucial for you and for your team members if you want to really thrive in your business.
Let’s start with you, because they will follow your lead. Are you curios about the world around you, or do you just go with what you know, or think you know? Equally as important is this: are you approachable?
Because if you set out to encourage a culture of curiosity, you need to be willing to be challenged, questioned, to change and grow on your own.
I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a lot of co-ops (interns) over the years where I’ve worked. And one thing that I tell each of them when we first get going is that I want them to question everything. Yes, everything. They’re coming in, seeing with new eyes, learning and processing. I want them to turn over the rocks in our organization, question why we do things that way, explore possibilities of a different approach. I don’t want their ideas to be limited by budget or how we currently do things or that thing we tried before that didn’t work five years ago.
I’ll be honest. The good ones, the ones that are willing to take me up on that, can sometimes make me a little uncomfortable. Especially if I have more of a personal fingerprint on that process or design. But if I really want to make it better, I listen and we discuss.
I truly believe that some of the best change can come from when new people enter your team. If you allow them and encourage them to be curious and if you’re willing to be approachable and discuss their ideas.
You might be amazed at what you’ll find.
Now… if they come in and just ask why over and over… well, that’s a different story.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode.
I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow
Today I’m introducing a new podcast that’s been already playing in my head for years but will now finally make it into your earbuds for the first time. Going forward, a new episode will come out every weekday morning, starting a week after this intro episode.
Before I get into the show itself, let me address the change in the podcast feed. You may notice that there are older episodes out there of a podcast called Stories of Starters. If you’re new to it, that was my first podcast, where I interviewed people who had taken a vision or passion and turned it into something bigger.
In order to preserve those interviews, which I still think offer a lot of value, I decided to start here where they left off instead of with a totally new feed. But feel free to dig through some of those older episodes and enjoy.
As for the Engineering Your Business podcast, it will be a totally different format and focus. Where Stories of Starters was a semi-weekly show that featured interviews which could be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, Engineering Your Business will be a short daily show (I’m thinking five minutes or less) that will focus on helping you optimize the People and Processes that you deal with every day as a business leader. My goal is to provide you with bite sized episodes that you can easily grab and go daily… or even batch on the weekends.
Personally, I have a mix in my own podcast playlist. Some are longer, interview or monologue shows while others are short daily shows like this one. I’ve really taken a liking to the shorter ones as they pack a punch, have a lot of variety and yet are easy to get through even if I’m short on time.
So, back to this podcast, you might ask “why the name Engineering Your Business”? Well, it has sort of a dual meaning. On one hand, I’ve been an engineer working in manufacturing for over 25 years and I’m bringing some of the lessons I’ve picked up over that time to your and your business field. As well, the episodes will help give you tools, encouragement and practical ideas that you can use to engineer your business and get it running at peak efficiency.
Now, about the specific focus, People and Processes? That comes from my wiring and makeup. I’m part engineer (it’s my job and I’m also generally curious about how things work), I’m part human resources (in that I’m relationally wired), I’m part creative (I love to write, create and see things differently) and honestly I’m part comedian (sarcasm is one of favorite languages). Granted, I’m not sure that those four types would often hang out together outside of my head, but somehow they get along in there.
And that all brings us to you, the listener. You are a business leader with a lot on your mind daily and a weight of responsibility for your business or department. You have demands. You have stresses. You have goals. And a lot of the time you might feel stuck. I want to be able to help give you a jolt, a boost, some new insight or even just some encouragement along the way.
Personally, I’ve often found that I can pound my head against a wall over and over trying to solve a problem or how to make something more efficient and then someone will come by, offer a few words and totally change my thinking or perspective. And that’s my goal with this podcast.
That said, I also believe in being yourself and offering the world your own special flavor, so you’ll find plenty of humor and creativity mixed in among the often-stuffy business talk.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this intro episode. Your time is valuable and I don’t take that for granted. I mean, you could have been catching up on the latest social media buzz or watching ESPN highlights or organizing your sock drawer, but you chose to spend these few precious minutes with me… while probably also doing those other things… which is why I love podcasts so much.
If you haven’t already, hit subscribe so that the next episode drops right there into your favorite podcast player. And I’d love it if you told a friend or coworker about the podcast as well.
Thanks for listening to today’s episode.
I can’t wait to connect with you again tomorrow