Applied Curiosity

"In this age of disruption, leaders are increasingly sought out and paid to know the right questions, not necessarily to have all the right answers."

Adam Bryant has been a distinguished journalist and author of two books, Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation and The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed. Bryant has become a leading authority on management and leadership and is obsessed with learning about successful cultures in organizations. He has interviewed more than five hundred of the top executives for his "Corner Office" series in the New York Times. By conducting hundreds of interviews and connecting with some of the best and brightest across industries, Adam Bryant termed a phrase called "Applied Curiosity." He believes Applied Curiosity must become a "habit of mind and body" for all leaders and coaches, explaining "Applied Curiosity" as the following: 

"Curiosity is table stakes for anyone hoping to succeed. But it comes in many shades. Some people's curiosity leads them to excel at crossword puzzles or to be champions on Jeopardy. Applied Curiosity is a more specific variety. People who have it engage in relentless questioning to understand how things work. And then they start wondering how those things could be made to work better. They approach everything with an inquiring mindset — whether it's making sense of shifting consumer habits or the global macroeconomic trends that are shaping their industry."

Adam Bryant believes once leaders understand and embrace this method and mindset with repetition, it will become as natural as the air they breathe. While equipping them to ask critical questions, probe, and explore new groundbreaking methods in every single facet of their life. So how do we all develop this unique but essential trait?

Bryant believes that "Applied Curiosity" is no different than any other muscle in our body. If we work that specific muscle each day, we can strengthen and become stronger at taking complex problems and explaining them for all to understand. 

We must develop a questioning mindset. We must embrace framing questions uniquely while spending more time on asking the specific probing question. This allows your staff, teams, and organizations to think differently and spend more time focusing on in-depth thinking. Bryant believes the word "Why" in every question will enhance your curiosity and allow you to feel probe while unlearning old school habits. Management guru Tom Peters believes it's harder to re-train, then train, and using "Applied Curiosity" allows for much help with that re-training of mindset. Bryant wants us to throw out the famous slogan line: "We have seen this movie before" and rely on our new found curiosity to solve the original problem. 

"In this age of disruption, leaders are increasingly sought out and paid to know the right questions, not necessarily to have all the right answers. That ability stems not only from understanding the competitive landscape today but then also having a keen sense of what the possibilities beyond it might be." It would be a wise investment for our holistic development to learn the concept of "Applied Curiosity" and have it become part of our daily routine. 


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