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Curiosity - a formula for success

Photo by Joseph Rosales on

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2018 NZ HR Conference, hosted by the HR Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ), in Auckland.

This conference had an amazing line up of presenters who in turn addressed the topic of the "future of work". The conference topics could just have easily been those of a leadership or management conference. A number of the presenters spoke on change, including the role of technology in driving and leading change.

Over the past century, we have seen a dramatic increase in the speed at which change occurs around us and how long it takes for new technology to be adopted. Each new advancement in technology is growing at rate that is almost double the one immediately before it. We are in a digital age now, that brings with it exponential change and growth.

Did you know that it took 40 years for the radio to be adopted by 50 million users? The humble television took 14 years to do this, and that beast we all know and love (or hate) Facebook took four - yes only four years. What was even more surprising was the "WeChat" application took only four months - yes months -to be adopted by 50+ million users.

An even scarier thought is that today's 18 year old males have most likely spent just as many hours gaming as they have in education. 18 year females are not far behind that.

The speed of the digital age is well and truly upon us. As business leaders we need to continue to be curious about these new technologies. We need to be open to how they might disrupt our business, and more importantly how we might adapt new technologies to disrupt our competitors business.

The NZ HR Conference attendees heard from the likes of Holly Ransom, Dr Michelle Dickinson, and Mandy Simpson that the future of business is going to be centred around technology and big data. Businesses, and more importantly their leaders, will need to be curious about the possibilities of technology and big data. If we lose our curiosity, that will become our biggest threat to the survival of our business. Think Walkman - they laughed at the iPod and said it wouldn't take off. Kodak dismissed the advent of digital photography. Those new technologies disrupted very successful and long-standing businesses.

Businesses need to see data as the fuel for their business. They will need to collect everything they can and analyse it. Be curious - that's what we heard. We were told that our future value, as a business, lies in understanding the data that we collect today and how that will shape our tomorrow.

We heard how businesses need to connect with how their story connects with the people they're talking to. Business needs to understand what drives their customers and what their customers want and need. Business needs to be customer centric and not place itself in the centre of what they do.

We were told that too many leaders are not curious enough. Are you one of these? Or are you in the curious camp?

11 lesson's that were shared at the HRINZ conference were:

  1. Master the elements of disruptive leadership

  2. Everyone needs a vision - find yours, imagine it, write it down, and share it.

  3. Mission matters more than ever

  4. Focus on impact - what is the difference you are making

  5. Aim higher - if you are achieving all your goals, you are not aiming high enough.

  6. Build on your strengths

  7. Be obsessed with your customers

  8. Keep it really lean

  9. Nurture your whole self

  10. Be brutally honest

  11. Honesty starts in the mirror

So, while you think about how you can be more curious, and while you are ensuring you are obsessed with and keep your customers in the centre of why you do what you do, also remember one final thing. Your people. You will need your people to part of this journey. Share your vision with them, empower them to take risk and allow them to learn from their mistakes. Make your workplace a learning environment, where you constantly talk with your staff and with your customers. Be curious about the possibilities of new technology. Be real and authentic with your people - as the business leaders of today and of the future need to care for the people not just the bottom line on the profit and loss ledger.

Photo Credit: Joseph Rosales on

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