GUEST POST from Leo Chan
When’s the last time you felt curious? When’s the last time you fully immersed yourself in curiosity?
For me, it was this past weekend, during my escape room experience at Escape Games Canada.
It’s only my second time with escape rooms. My first wasn’t positive. I actually really disliked it.
In reflection, I believe it was because I was too in my head and didn’t lean into curiousity enough back then. I didn’t know what to do. I stood around, confused and overwhelmed. So I watched my team while I stood there helpless.
This time, I was ready to jump in. I chose to let my curiosity lead.
We were led into a very small room and after an intro sequence, the mission begun. During the intro, I looked around the room curiously. I noticed a small lantern-like light with an electrical symbol. Adjacent to it was an empty cavern with a power socket.
When the mission started, everyone stood wondering what to do.
💡The immediate next step was intuitive for me. I grabbed the lantern-like light, unplugged it and put into the adjacent power socket.
The door opened and we were onto the next part of the mission. “Cool! What’s next?” I thought.
The entire escape room experience was a fun exercise of curiousity and I found it delightful. I went into each room with lots of curiosity, wondering “What if I…? What happens if…?” I pushed buttons, pulled things, rotated, twisted objects, examined items, looked for patterns. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Research shows when you satisfy your curiosity, your brain rewards you with a flood of dopamine. That’s why curious people are happy people.
Each new step of the escape room was another opportunity to exercise more curiousity. What would happen next? What would we be required to do?
In addition to this curiousity extravaganza, I also loved that this escape room required real collaboration.
In one room, I noticed there were two joysticks and a button on one side of the room. On the other side of the room, there was a viewfinder (like a periscope).
I was curious about this and thought the two were linked together so I told my wife, “hey, go over to the viewfinder and tell me if anything changes when I move these joysticks around.”
My curiosity was right. She said “Yes! It moves what I’m seeing!” We then proceeded to work together to figure out the puzzle.
In another room, we had to work together as a trio to solve a puzzle. We each stood in three parts of the room, interacting with the material and dialoging about what we were seeing and then using that as an input to the piece we were responsible for. Our collaboration leveraged our diverse perspectives and experiences. Some people needed to use math (thank goodness that wasn’t me), memorization, cartography, pattern recognition and other skills.
We couldn’t have achieved our mission without collaborating, it was literally impossible. We leaned into our diverse perspectives and experiences; it was wonderful!
As we left the escape room, I couldn’t help but thinking that I went through an immersive, innovation masterclass because the experience highlighted two very important innovation mindsets: curiosity & collaboration.
🌱Mindset #1: Curiosity is essential for innovation. It leads you to see new things, go down new paths and try new things. Walt Disney once said:
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and trying new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
The problem with curiosity is that it’s become a buzzword. We tell people to “just be curious.” We’ve fallen prey to the belief that people are either curious or not curious. And the sad reality is, many adults have lost their curiosity. They’ve lost their child-like wonder. What if you could reinvigorate curiousity? What if you could learn how to be curious once again? It’s possible.
🌱Mindset #2: Collaboration drives innovation. True collaboration allows us to see new perspectives, gain insights and reach unexpected outcomes. Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators says this:
Innovation comes from teams more than lightbulb moments of lone geniuses.
Collaboration is more mindset than skillset and most of us think we’re better collaborators than we really are. If you’ve experienced working in functional silos, a lack of communication, a lack of knowing what’s going on in other teams, you’ve experienced a lack of collaboration. A lack of collaboration roots in a lack of belief in the true power of collaboration. In order to move the needle on collaboration, you need to shift people’s mindsets on collaboration.
At the end of the escape room experience, my wife asked, “How did you know what to do? (It was her first ever escape room experience). I exclaimed, “It’s easy! I was curious!”
🪄Curiosity is powerful. In a 2019 research study, researchers discovered that a single-unit increase in curiosity on a seven-point scale was associated with 34% greater creativity.
🚀 Right now, I want you reflect on the following two prompts:
- How will you stimulate your curiosity today? Is there a topic you’ve been curious to learn more about? Maybe it’s a topic, hobby or interest of yours. Some popular topics these days include: Generative AI & ChatGPT. Once you’ve identified an area of curiosity, go and learn about it. Explore it and enjoy the process. I’m giving you permission right now to go and do this. After you’re done, come back and share your experiences with me!
- Who could you collaborate with on something you’re working on? It doesn’t matter if it’s a small or big thing. Invite them into your work and get their perspective. You’ll gain fresh insights and new ideas from them. Pro tip: Find someone you NORMALLY wouldn’t ask. Be surprised by what they share with you.
🌱Both curiosity and the collaborative mindset can be taught and nurtured. If you want to know how and bring this to your team, please reach out! I’d be happy to help.
Image credit: Leo Chan
Sign up here to join 17,000+ leaders getting Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to their inbox every week.