Curiosity, a fundamental element of our cognitive function, is one of our greatest motivators for learning and making decisions.
Consider the global time spent seeking and consuming information, browsing social media or reading. Humans have an inherent demand for information that drives innovation, new thinking and motivates learning. Curiosity is often regarded from philosophers as a noble human driver.
Philosopher and psychologist William James referred to curiosity as “the impulse towards better cognition”. It inherently evolves. It can shape our intellect and our progress, which is why more leaders are re-thinking their own curiosity and how they can leverage it to shape their organization for the future.
One challenge with curiosity is that, if it is left untamed and unguided, it can remain primal. However, for leaders, guided curiosity presents opportunity. It can shape how they predict market opportunities, learn about their employees, gain insight from their customers and innovate as an organization.
For the last few years, the digital landscape has inspired leaders to apply a digital lens to their primitive desire. Rather than simply asking questions, they have started to ask “digital questions” about their customers. “How are we communicating with our customers?” “How do we interact? They have asked questions about their organization, “how can we automate?” “Where does AI fit?” “Are we data-driven?”
Although, to get ahead of the competition, today’s leaders are going one-step deeper and applying more sophistication to their curiosity by combining “digital questions” with the “human experience”. “What do our customers experience?” “How do customers want to feel?” Leaders are examining the human experience more deeply, factoring both the employee and the customer. “How do our employees connect with our customers?” Leaders are exploring the human experience in a digital realm from end-to-end.
This refined curious lens helps leaders shift the organization’s mindset from digital as a tool or channel towards digital and human experience as part of a strategy to making digital and human experiences homogeneous. Retailers are experiencing this challenge as they continue to manage storefront operations with online ordering. Manufacturers are challenged with integrating employees into newer automated processes. Health organizations are challenged with leveraging digital tools and data across complex matrices and different stakeholders. For this reason, transformative leaders from these industries are asking guided curious questions around their “digital+human” approach to innovation, strategy and communications – essentially looking at their digital, customer and employee experiences from end-to-end.
The one caveat, of course, is that for leaders to successfully add a lens to their curiosity, they must rely heavily on their acumen in three fundamental areas: digital savy, customer centricity and people leadership. Although curiosity remains a proven motivator, it’s not enough by itself. To effectively guide their primal desire in today’s experience economy, leaders need to combine their understanding of people with their digital savviness. Only then can they truly transform their organization for today’s digital and human experience landscape. They must ask if their curiosity is truly digital+human.
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