Many organisations fail or are dysfunctional. Usually, because they don’t adapt either to their internal or their external environment, and the change impacting upon them.
They also fail because they manage on-going change poorly. Over nearly 40 years of practising individual, team and organisational development, I’ve encountered many static or degenerating organisations, mired in problems and unable to progress.
In this post, the fourth in a series of five posts, I explain why being curious about your organisation is important, what impact your curiosity will have, and how best to exercise your inquisitiveness as far as your organisation is concerned.
Why be curious?
We know that we live and work in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Staying curious about our context – both internal and external – and its rapidly evolving nature, fine tunes our ability to better manage change.
From internal change to exploring new market opportunities, or responding to new competitors, our curiosity should know no bounds. The reason is simple; the task is often more challenging. People make human organisations what they are. Those same people are always evolving, in varying ways and at different paces. Whatever the level and pace of change, it is always multi-faceted.
What impact will your curiosity have?
So, staying curious about your organisations adds to your learning and understanding of those around you. You will find out about their strengths, dreams and ambitions. You will grow to understand your organisation’s developmental needs. In doing that, you will know intimately what hinders growth and what makes your organisation flourish.
This increase in learning builds on your self and team awareness. It will highlight you like a more active, trusted and engaging leader. You will be a more highly-regarded leader because you will listen with interest, not judgement. You will maintain strong connections with others across the organisation, beyond your team. You will open doors to better engagement because you show concern and care for others. You will demonstrate a greater sense of creativity, compassion and connectivity. You will engage others not of your team in ways that motivate them.
All this will enable you to deliver more efficient decision-making, owned by those you work with and executed diligently by them.
How best to exercise your curiosity?
The impact you will make as a more trusted, dynamic, and efficient leader is managed through a straightforward process.
You will seek out others’ input by asking good, sometimes seen as dumb questions. Some excellent starting points would include:
- “What’s important here?”
- “What’s exciting about this?”
- “What does success look like?”
- “What keeps me or us from being more curious?”
By asking simple, but powerful questions you invite feedback from others. They will feel valued and more engaged. They will see your care and concern, and your curiosity about the roles and responsibilities others take in the management and delivery of your organisation’s vision, mission and values. They will see you are interested in their strengths and values, and other things that energise them.
You can further build on progress by asking further compelling questions. Some other excellent questions, in my experience, would be:
- “What result[s] do we want to create?”
- “What would be our story if we were living the values expected of us by our organisation?”
- “How do we feel about our current situation?”
- “What three strategies would help us accomplish our primary purpose?”
Human organisations are hotbeds of interaction
There is a classic organisation model of an iceberg by Roger Plant. It seeks to describe the human interaction within any human organisation. In essence, Plant is trying to get across the notion that much of that interaction happens below the surface, often unseen.
My view would be that channelling that interaction, through employing great curiosity, as described above, you will stay purpose-centred. You remain driven by values, rather than driven by egos and external factors. You will focus on others, not just on yourself and your team. Most importantly, you will demonstrate greater openness to feedback, and thrive because of the information and opportunities this provides.
In this series of posts, I have offered a rationale why employing powerful curiosity transforms individuals, teams and organisations. At each level, it frames vision, fuels passion, and drives creativity and innovation.
It also helps you to live in the present, not rely on past practice and assumptions. Evolving change makes relying on past practice and assumptions redundant. Focusing instead on results, strengths, even dreams and rooting them in values, feelings and future actions is more powerful.
Your curiosity about you, your team and your organisation also help to integrate change faster and more successfully. Using curiosity to manage and integrate change successfully will be my fifth and final post in this series on Monday 22nd August 2016.
As always, I welcome your comments and meaningful dialogue. I am always happy to listen and ready to help. I wish you an entertaining and enlightening experience of the series of posts. Thank you for reading.