Merck, a leading science and technology company, has started an experiment entitled “Anyone can become more curious”. Driven by the company’s curiosity initiative, which measured and described curiosity in detail in various countries such as the United States, China and Germany – the question now is if and how one can increase curiosity so as to ultimately lead to more or better science-driven behaviour. The experiment is set to last six months and altogether involves three teams from the management consultancy Porsche Consulting GmbH, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany, the prestigious research institution Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and Merck.
“Curiosity is our driving force and we now seek to empirically demonstrate that anyone can increase their own level of curiosity,” said Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck. “We are convinced that along with optimism and confidence, curiosity can help find solutions to many of the greatest challenges facing mankind.”
Merck is partnering with teams from Porsche Consulting and the Weizmann Institute of Science to field-test evidence-based organisational practices, created to enhance all four dimensions of curiosity: inquisitiveness, creativity in problem solving, openness to other ideas, and distress tolerance, within the participating partner teams. The Curiosity Lab Partnership program is designed to show the impact curiosity has on meaningful business outcomes.
Openness to other Ideas
An open mind and the ability to accept other people’s ideas is important to you. Sometimes, however you find there isn’t enough time to pursue these ideas. Diversity of and openness to ideas are essential for ongoing development, so place them at the top of your list.
When you have the time, you keep up-to-date with what’s going on in your field. Beyond that, you try to drive your company’s vision forward. You are aware that this relies on asking good questions. While you ask questions every now and then, sometimes there just isn’t enough time. Try to set time aside so you don’t let your inquisitiveness go to waste.
Creativity in problem solving
Your experience helps you to quickly wrap your head around challenging problems and find solutions for them. On top of this, you fully appreciate the value of creative thinking. In stressful situations and under pressures of time, though, you prefer to stick with the old, familiar ways rather than exploring new and innovative paths. Be courageous, and rely on your creative powers, even when you are under stress.
Mastering distressing situations will always be easier with help and support from colleagues. But you can develop the courage to explore unknown territory alone. Take the initiative, and don’t be afraid of defending your own ideas.
During and after the six-month period, data was collected in all three teams and analysed to understand changes in employee curiosity, employer support for curiosity, and the innovation environment. This quantitative data, combined with the qualitative data collected at monthly check-ins, will eventually support the hypothesis that one can increase the level of curiosity in the participating teams.
Merck is monitoring the progress of this experiment during the six months and will report the outcome after a thorough analysis of the collected data. During the experiment, Merck will regularly update curiosity.merckgroup.com with approaches from the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program. These approaches are also meant to be used by visitors to this website and for applications designed to drive or increase the curiosity of the readers themselves.
Learn to train your curiosity. Let your inquisitiveness guide you, solve your problems creatively, be open to other ideas, and develop your level of distress tolerance. Each semester offers you 4 exercises that help you to develop your potential in the 4 dimensions of curiosity and change the elements that make up your personal formula.
Companies around the globe need curiosity to handle complex situations, to stand out from the crowd and, above all, to develop innovations. With their initiative, Merck wants to take the next step in learning more about curiosity, and studying it in real-life situations. This is why they initiated this Curiosity Lab Partnership Program.