“Research evidence suggests a strong link between inquisitiveness and creative productivity.”
Research evidence suggests a strong link between inquisitiveness and creative productivity. In an extensive six-year study about the way creative executives in business think, for example, Professors Jeffrey Dyer of Brigham Young University and Hal Gregersen of INSEAD, surveyed over three thousand executives and interviewed five hundred people who had either started innovative companies or invented new products. They also examined the habits of twenty-five exemplary innovators in depth, including the likes of Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, VMWare’s Diane Greene, and A. G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble.
The authors found several “patterns of action” or “discovery skills” that distinguished the innovators from the noninnovators, which in addition to experimenting, as we’ve seen, included observing, questioning, and networking with people from diverse backgrounds, all of which, Dyer and Gregersen believed, can be developed. As Gregersen wrapped up their findings: “You might summarize all of the skills we’ve noted in one word: ‘inquisitiveness.’ ”
Dyer and Gregersen found that, like Yunus the anthropologist, exemplar innovators closely observed details, particularly about other people’s behaviors. “In observing others, they act like anthropologists and social scientists,” Dyer and Gregersen wrote in their Harvard Business Review study summary (coauthored with Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen). The authors frequently cite Steve Jobs, who is well known around Silicon Valley for constantly studying the world for ideas.
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