Sunday, March 6, 2016

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Intellectual Curiosity

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Innovation is the light every organization is pursuing, and creativity becomes #1 most wanted skill for digital professionals. Creativity is an innate ability to create novel ideas. Would you consider that creativity is a response to a stimulus and that individuals will manifest different thought processes and behavioral responses to that stimulus depending on their individual cognition and experiences? What are the personality traits or working environment which decide how creative the individual or team could be?  If creativity is like a plant, perhaps curiosity is like the seed, so how to assess a person’s intellectual curiosity, and further evaluate his/her creativity potential and problem-solving capability?

Can you frame the right questions? The clear manifestation of intellectual curiosity is to ask good questions, the open questions, the profound questions and the thought provoking questions. Though there are no such things as stupid questions, framing the right question is often the halfway of problem-solving. How to ask the right questions is not only just the raw intelligence to reflect human’s intellectual curiosity, it becomes the new skills need to be sharpened and focused on, in order to co-solve the common problems and co-create the better world. Are you a person with "Big Whys"? The art of questioning is to ignite innovative thinking and critical thinking, the essential to questioning also stimulates the creative sides of our brains in order to find answers. People with intellectual curiosity are more like to ask those open questions such as “What if,” “Why not.” etc.  From leadership perspective, a great leader is one who has all the questions but not all the answers: How to see the things as a whole, from management perspective, it’s to see through the spirit of organization,  it’s to ask the open-ended questions about the structure, the process, and the culture, it inspires the fresh thinking about the legacy issues, the new angles to see the unsolved problems, the more dimensions to leverage cause-effect. The science of questioning is about asking the right question at the right time to the right person for the right information.

Do you have an inquisitive mind to always dig through the root cause or find a better way to problem solving? An inquisitive mind with confidence does not accept things at face value and find a better/ alternative solution, and intellectual curiosity is one of the key ingredients to spark innovation and catalyze the culture of creativity. Keeping mind free for creative thinking is something that you can learn. And a heterogeneous team setting with inclusiveness can stimulate each other’s intellectual curiosity to see things differently. Diversity and curiosity are crucial for innovation, the team should embrace visionaries, futurist-minded, problem solvers, idea creators, well mix people from different positions, cognitive difference, backgrounds, etc. The team is just like plant and flower seeds, it's the only hope for innovation blossom. Beside innovative culture for changes, an effective team with gifted people, with a range of expertise and disciplines and, most critically, who are still curious, can make a significant difference by doing things innovatively.

Do you have the “discovery eyes” to observe with learning mind to explore unknown? Discovery is a process of revealing unknown facts. You cannot envision a discovery as it is still not known to you. Every discovery must be supported by intellectual curiosity with sound rational and logical certainty that can be accepted without any doubt whatsoever. Discovery is 'the journey of life' as each day we discover something previously unknown to us. The word "Discovery" refer to "knowledge," because the more you read and learn, the more you will realize that there are more you don’t know yet. Discovery starts with an open mind full of intellectual curiosity and fresh eyes having a broader vision, it is a new way to see and perceive the things, and it is a life experience and adventure.

Life's a journey, we might lose a lot of things on the way, but do not lose the character because it is our personal identity and brand; do not lose intellectual curiosity because it keeps the life interesting and meaningful. Each one of us has an unknown amount of creativity, innovation, and productivity as well as an unknown amount of intelligence, knowledge, experience, and energy, so do not lose the courage to discover them, do not lose the passion in pursuing them, and do not lose patience to sharpen them.


I agree that you should not stop asking questions. If you lack understanding or crucial knowledge to perform , you must ask questions to gain clarity and understanding. This helps put every member of an OU or team on the same page with the same task.

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