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Curiosity – The Science of Discovery

Curiosity is my engine; I never outgrew the “But why, Mommy?” phase — always wanting to poke everything and figure out what it’s made of. Biology especially teased my curiosity, and I discovered that “Why?” was my favorite state of mind. Better yet, I found that I didn’t have to be working on a science experiment to live there. Then, nothing was safe from my explorations.

Working with clients, I’ve learned that curiosity is a direct conduit to creativity. For example, a colleague and I were once brainstorming with a group of subject-matter experts, gleaning their thoughts on a medical treatment. He was leading the discussion while I scribed. As the session wore on, I noticed that the experts were stuck repeatedly traversing the same territory — nothing fresh or innovative was emerging. At first, I felt anxious that we weren’t achieving our goals. What’s the problem here? I wondered. At just that moment, a new strategy popped into my mind, and I proposed it: “Let’s have each of you imagine a 60-second movie about the treatments, and describe it to us.”

The shift in the room was palpable. As each expert rose to talk about their movie, all sorts of ideas of new therapeutic approaches started to flow. Their knowledge hadn’t changed, but they’d entered the land of the curious, and that made all the difference.