Why successful organisations need enquiring minds

Both our personal journey into adulthood and the progress society has made until now had its origins in the human need to enquire, understand and find new ways of doing things. Exploring, being inquisitive and experimenting isn’t just a trait for children or inventors though, as this innate trait can benefit all team members, teams and organisations.

What are the advantages?

Being open to new ideas and challenging what's normal and 'what we've always done' enhances collaborating and innovation. It creates a stronger workplace in terms of emotional wellbeing and can help to manage stress and foster a culture of resilience, not to mention the tangible benefits on the bottom line.

And when it comes to leadership, managers who foster this in their people and display this themselves become more effective. Interestingly enough, the process of curiosity leads to the release of dopamine in the brain, giving reward and pleasure.

Why now?

Technology and automation are well on the way to replacing many of the roles we have in the workforce today. But what machine learning can never replicate and replace are soft skills like creativity, emotional intelligence, persuasion and influence. People and leaders who learn and practise these now will set themselves well up for the future.

Setting up an enquiring culture not only helps individuals learn more and faster, this extrapolates to the whole team and the organisation. It leads to confident people who feel valued and results in a workplace where discussion is respected and encouraged.


It can be difficult to make a shift change and encourage people to show interest and think about other ways something could be done. Yet we were born with a natural impulse to try out new things and to explore; it's just in adulthood we lose this.

To begin the process, start by a tacit agreement with yourself to remain open to new ideas, and pose questions around what would or could happen if you chose to think about something in a different way.

You don't have to do this alone. The internet is a wonderful repository of articles and ideas to get you started, including reading about other people's journeys to exploration. Don't forget the best resource, which is the people around you – those within your business and wider network.

Leading the charge

Leaders have a threefold job to do in this area – they need to display openness and show enquiry themselves, foster this in their people, and just as importantly, reward experimentation and new ideas, even if things don’t quite go to plan.

At the outset, people need help to understand which problems need addressing or could benefit from a new approach. This will be different for each organisation as each has different challenges in their own context. Differences will also lie in the methods people use to learn and explore, and finding the best route will be a valuable journey for every person.

If you're a leader, there are a few core principles to remember when getting the team started:

  • An open mind enables ideas to flow. Give people the space and time to do this.
  • Question everything, and seek opinions from those who are different to you, as not all ideas and change will work for everyone.
  • Explain the why and the what – putting an issue and idea into perspective is important for people to be able to assess it.
  • Don't be afraid to park ideas that go off on the wrong track. You can’t explore every option and idea.
  • Learn from others – this process is all about interacting with others, which demonstrates a willingness to commit to change in itself.
  • Take action – discuss and test ideas.

Most of all, be confident and encourage confidence. If an idea or approach doesn't work, put it down to learning and start again. The win is in the process of asking the questions, rethinking the options and implementing the solution. And when success comes, ensure that your network of enquiring minds celebrate it!