The Competency of Curiosity

by | Jun 9, 2022 | Leadership

Let’s talk about the competency of curiosity!

Curiosity has played a huge part in my career and in building Service Express. It’s the art of being curious and asking questions. Why do we do that? What could we do? How do we do it better? As we’ve grown in double digits every year during my 25 years, we always had to think about how to scale, grow and improve. We are thinking about how we can be more efficient, how we can make things easier for employees, and how we can be better for customers.   

Curiosity is something that you can drive and create in your organization. Here are a few key things to focus on:   

  1. Shake the thinking.   

How do you do that? It starts with the head of the organization. The fish stinks from the head down, meaning it starts with me as the CEO and the Executive Team. We have to cast the vision that it’s okay to question everything we do. That doesn’t mean ripping things out and making radical changes all over the place, but we should always question our ways. Why do we do it that way? Is there a better way? What would it look like if we did it differently?   

  1. Allow people to test out new ideas.    

We need to make it okay for people within the organization to take risks and test out their ideas. We don’t make changes across the board, but we look at certain areas and test new ideas. That’s a crucial step: test the ideas. Don’t make changes that potentially disrupt the whole organization if they don’t work. Think about how you’ll measure success and its impact. How will you know if it’s working or failing? Understand how you’ll measure the success of what you’re testing and keep making progress along the way. 

Also, remember that it’s okay to fail! Leaders need to model this, or they’ll lose trust. If you allow people to try new ideas and they fail, and you crush them for it, you will destroy the whole morale, and they won’t do it again. Make sure to celebrate the failures along the way.   

  1. Applaud the risk-takers.   

Lastly, applaud the risk-takers. Applaud the ones trying new ideas, who have failed and who are learning and growing. Celebrate failure because it’s a sign of learning. Failure only fails you if you don’t learn, so use it to recalibrate and go forward. When you think you have the right idea, test it out and scale it out across the organization.   

You also want to encourage people to rethink the model. The way you do that is by asking big what-if questions. What if we did this instead? What if we could do it that way? Whether you can or can’t, start by asking yourself, “What if?”   

We have a phrase at Service Express that came from our Chief Operating Officer, John Madden. He says, “What would you have to believe? What if we could do that? What would you have to believe for that to be true?”   

Many people will tell you that you could never do it or that it won’t work or won’t scale. Don’t worry about that because you are not doing anything yet, you’re just thinking. Figuring out what you need to believe for your idea to work will help everything come together. Then you can collaborate, brainstorm, plan, test, and applaud the failures! The more you fail, the more you’ll recalibrate and the more you will win. It all goes together. Curiosity is a competency, and you can drive it in your organization. Test out these ideas and let me know what you think!

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About Me

I am the President & CEO of Service Express, a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Service Express has averaged double digit growth every year since 2001.

We attribute our success to a unique corporate culture that we call The Service Express Way. I am a member of the Young President Organization and sit on the Board of the Spectrum Health Foundation.