The curious enterprise

Large enterprises enjoy many advantages; extended resources, funds, manpower. But what are they worth if curiosity isn’t encouraged and supported on a company-culture level?

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By Adam Etzion, HR Analyst @ Gloat

Sometimes, it can seem like large enterprises have everything that small start-ups and entrepreneurs don’t. From manpower to funds to infrastructure, once bigger companies decide to do something, they’re usually much more capable of doing it.

But in today’s changeable market, agility and adaptability are some of the most desired attributes a company can have – and these are the two things in which smaller organizations have an edge. Simply put, when you’re big, it’s much more difficult to change course and try new ideas on a company level.

And while there are increasingly more solutions for the challenges of talent reallocation and dynamic project management within large organizations, the advantages that come with them can be gutted if you don’t foster a company culture that complements them.

This means more than just being open to internal mobility; ultimately, internal mobility is a method by which solutions are implemented – but thinking up of the solutions in the first place, recognizing the right opportunities, understanding what kinds of new goals your company is capable of taking on, and what may still require work before you tackle it – this kind of thinking comes from the ability to experiment and gain new insights into what you’re doing as an organization. So how can you create a company culture that promotes creativity and fresh ways of thinking?

A Curious Workforce

To truly reap the benefits of being an agile enterprise, executives need to start thinking about how they can foster curiosity within their companies. When employees are encouraged to experiment and see if there are new ways of doing the same things, or if there are new things they can do, these new solutions will permeate throughout the organization and promote a new kind of discourse. But how can you create a curious workforce, assuming everyone is busy with their existing responsibilities? Where can you create time for play, experimentation and dialogue, without cutting into productivity?

Work and Play

By using tools like the Talent Marketplace, employees can take time off of their “regular” jobs to try out new things – but these new things are still assignments, projects, positions and tasks within the company that answer real organizational needs. What may be a learning experience for an employee taking on a new part-time gig in order to explore their own interests and answer their own questions, can still be a productive undertaking from a company perspective. The added value of what they learn as they try on different hats can then be shared through mentorship and reverse-mentorship programs, as well as through general communication and networking within the company. But more importantly, it will help create a culture of experimentation and curiosity; questions like “what happens if I try this” or “how can my perspective inform that” will become an integral part of the way employees, managers and executives will think about their own responsibilities, as well as of the company as a whole.

fun on the job

Moving into the Future

With an engaged, thinking, curious workforce, companies will be much better equipped to deal with new challenges and opportunities as they arise. Fresh, multiple perspectives will be able inform decision-making on all levels, and, just as importantly, the workforce won’t flinch when new tasks and objectives are assigned. They will already be used to trying out new things and switching between tasks. When curiosity is encouraged, these cease to be daunting prospects, and can actually be seen as fun.

The potential to drive up engagement and productivity is immense – as is the potential for the company to take on new directions.

With the dynamic, unpredictable future we all face, a curious workforce is nothing short of mission-critical.