February 16, 2020

Curious powers: Scientifically proven how curiosity can inspire creativity

Jeff Warman

Chief Creative Officer

Albert Einstein once said, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Yes, the man who was a pillar of modern science, who developed the theory of relativity, admitted he had no special powers. Except that he was inherently curious. His pure determination to question the unquestionable changed society as we know it today. 

Why is it that those born with a natural sense of wonder often make the biggest impact on the world around us? There is actually a science to it. In the Harvard Business Review article titled "The Case for Curiosity," Francesca Gino outlines several findings that prove how innate curiosity can drive business success. It is exactly the foundation that supports our agency mission. Her findings, as noted in the article, include:

  • As curiosity goes up, so does creativity and solution generation.
  • Curiosity improves engagement and collaboration. 
  • Curious people make better choices and are more adaptive to uncertain market conditions and external pressures.
  • Curiosity is directly related to empathy. 

These findings, and our team's desire to solve business challenges for our clients, have helped shape our agency mission and vision. We partner with clients who are equally as curious, committed, and courageous. Those who are willing to explore new questions with us. And we seek the most curious talent possible to join our team. The people we hire at Curiosity are assessed using uniquely identifying factors, confirming them to be more curious. We then channel their natural curiosity for our client's benefit. The more curious we are, the more creative solutions we generate. And in a world with no definitive answers, the more valuable that becomes for our partners.

One of the additional beauties of Curiosity is that while people are certainly born with varying levels of it, it acts like a muscle. It needs exercise and fuel to grow and can even become habitual with practice. In fact, the mere act of being curious (trying to answer an abstract question, solve a puzzle, etc.) instantly inspires creative thinking. I've always been a naturally curious person, starting my professional journey in journalism and film documentaries, and later adding the creative problem-solving that comes with working in the advertising industry. I’ve seen the consistent habits of those who I find most inspiring in the creative world. Not coincidentally, those people happen to be the most curious people I know. Here are ten observations:

Question everything. Even the unquestionable

That is what curious people do. Sometimes that means being brilliant, but more often than not, it can mean just asking questions as a 5-year-old would. 

Have the courage to do #1. Because it does take courage. 

One side of your brain is saying you have to know, while the other is worried about the consequences. Courage is doing the thing your brain is arguing against.

Listen without judgment and without distraction. 

When you're fully present, you're more empathetic. It's crucial to understand not only consumers, but just everyday human folks. You will learn something.

Curious people don’t let curiosity be mischaracterized as a distraction. 

When channeled strategically, curiosity drives focus -- often a focus on solutions that matter.

Be willing to be wrong. 

Curiosity will not always lead you directly to the right answer, but it will guide you toward the right possibilities.

Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

It is just another way of saying, I'm starting here.

Seek surprise. 

Curious people are not the type to thrive on or be challenged by monotony. Allow yourself to venture to the unknown, where the outcome is a mystery.

Take another look. 

Perhaps you look once more at an old idea and reframe it to see if it triggers a new question or solution.

Make time for curiosity.

It's the only way to build your curious muscle. Explore a new road, try a new interest, meet with people you wouldn't normally meet with and read, read, read!

Don’t let past disappointments affect future adventures. 

Ok, so it didn't work out once. There is another path. See #1, then #2, then...

One could argue that the right question is actually the right answer. So, ask why, why not, and what if. Because the right question could be the path to a new idea that changes the world. Walt Disney once said, "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." Sounds like pure science to me.

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Feel that? That’s curiosity.

Let’s solve something together.