Curiosity

Are you inquisitive? I've been researching creativity for corporate workshops I have coming up (amongst other things). I keep coming back to the importance of inquiry in the process. Like creativity itself inquiry seems to be an attitude as much as a verb. Without curiosity all we have left is acceptance. If you simply accept things as they are, then nothing changes for better or worse.

I am surprised at how little inquiry goes on in most people's lives. To question the status quo seems to be a disruptive exercise. Which, of course, it is. Disruption has acquired a negative connotation. When I was at high school I was considered disruptive because I asked too many questions. It was a quality that earned me not only many hours of detention and more than a few lashes of the cane but also the scorn of my fellow students. Why couldn't I simply accept the information delivered? It was in the text. It must surely be the absolute truth. Looking back at those 'truths' now I have to laugh. History lessons about the middle east blankly described the Balfour Declaration with absolute belief in the right of the British to create a territory (now known as Israel). The Treaty of Waitangi was regarded as little more than an event in history, rather than a binding contract with implications that affect us today. The absolute truth of the day was the tail end of postcolonial New Zealand. One of my first part-time jobs was as an ice-cream boy at the St James Theatre on Auckland's main street. I vividly remember a moment before each movie when a reel of the Queen of England rides out to inspect the guard at Buckingham palace (to the tune of God Save the Queen). In what would seem surreal now, the audience would stand for the anthem! Nobody questioned the ritual.

Disruption is an essential component of creativity and innovation. It is a truism that to create you must be prepared to destroy, or 'kill your babies'.

A social inclination not to rock the boat is a serious problem for the development of a buoyant creative economy. I'm not advocating anarchy (necessarily), though I agree with Tom Peters when he talks about the market being a brawl without rules. Perhaps the most important seeds that need to be planted for innovation to grow are simply: What? Why?(why not?) and How...and any variation you like.

I have become aware of a general lack of enthusiasm for the exploration of ideas in business. There is a surprising amount of acceptance of dogma, 'best practice' and convention. Conversations about the planned destruction of conventions simply don’t take place. Graduates are streaming out of tertiary institutions eager to exploit their newly minted degrees and diplomas by exploiting the systems currently in place. Make as much money as you can while the going is good. I wonder whether organisations are hiring new talent to challenge old methods or to indoctrinate with the conventions (conventional thinking). Seems a shame to me. Youthful thinking should be inquisitive and unconventional. There's no reason why it can't be harnessed and disciplined. It might sound paradoxical but rule breaking probably requires a better understanding of the rules. Disruption isn't simply infantile destruction. It needs to be focussed. Energy needs direction.

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