Innovation takes Capability AND Curiosity

Several times a year, I have the privilege of talking to university students about education and finding “meaningful” work. I’m often asked “What should I do to get a job in engineering?” I’ll encourage the aspiring engineer to “learn one thing well” – the fundamentals of their engineering discipline. It’s only from the foundation of true understanding, a grasp of the physics in any problem, that the engineer can grow to solve complex problems and to be truly innovative.

However, there is another, very important trait that is critical to innovation, in any domain:

The insatiable desire to know “Why?” – an incurable curiosity about the world around them.

Curious people think about the way things are – and how they could be. They’re driven to learn, to develop, and to grow… and then they help others do the same.

In a recent blog post, I suggested that “every one of us have the ability to lead in some way. It doesn’t matter if you lead a team or you just lead yourself.” I encouraged each of us to “look for opportunities to help the rest of us to be better.” Today, I’d like to suggest one way to do that: BE CURIOUS – and encourage others to be curious, too.

Albert Einstein, the famous physicist said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

“The important thing is [don’t] stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity.”

What can you do differently this week; not just in the traditional “R&D” sense, but in everything you do? Maybe you can think of a better way to share ideas or maybe there’s something you could do differently that would make your team more effective (or more fun). Think about the possibilities for better products, better service – or maybe a brand new way of looking at an “old” problem.

What if each of us began looking for better ways to work together with our colleagues – whether in our office or on the other side of the globe? That’s leadership – and each of us can do that. What would happen if we all helped each other by encouraging curiosity and exploration? I wonder…

I’ll bet you’re curious, too.

Credits:  Thanks to Matt Monge ( for reminding me that curiosity is important in every part of our lives.

4 thoughts on “Innovation takes Capability AND Curiosity

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