on August 21st, 2018

Dear Colleagues

We wouldn’t have breakthrough discoveries without that wonderful quality – curiosity - from inventing fire, the aircraft  to the Google search engine. That magical feeling  that goes about investigating  new information, pondering on a different way of doing something or  simply trying something out new (and often having that incredible  ‘Ah hah’ moment) is an innate quality we all have.

No More Boredom

Without curiosity we would have a very boring and unproductive world. It is key to your success in your  engineering career. However, many managers and companies fear it as it can be rather disruptive and encourage chaos. Something engineering professionals with their love of order aren’t always fond of. Certainly, you don’t want chaotic curiosity occurring  in a bridge design otherwise you may have some catastrophic results.

Without any question – curiosity is particularly important to engineering professionals and their organisations in lifting one’s  creativity and strengths. It improves your performance especially in an uncertain economic environment making you more resilient to the changes coming.

Typical benefits of curiosity include: Fewer errors when making a decision as you are constantly questioning assumptions and stereotypes; driving innovation by being creative and questioning; perhaps reducing conflict as you consider other people’s perspectives and finally more open communications with others as you open your mind to alternatives.

However, in my experience, leaders of organisations often avoid encouraging curiosity. They have huge and often brutal performance targets that your are being measured by. This means that they are absolutely focussed on these targets  in their clinical search for efficiency and can’t avoid time for experimentation and curiosity.

How do you increase curiosity in your engineering life ?

A few suggestions (from Francesca Gino modified by my take on engineering):

Surround yourself by curious people. Hire, build your team from  and actively move  towards curious people. This will have an avalanche effect on your performance and that of your team in lifting your creativity dramatically.

Model yourself as an  inquisitive curious person. Ask questions and  investigate and encourage others in your team to do the same.

Encourage learning every day all day. Open the opportunities to further study to all your team and certainly yourself. I dedicate an hour early every morning on study and gaining a skill or an appreciation in a new area. Sometimes a painful pursuit as it challenges one’s brain. But it is the only way forward in building and sustaining your engineering career.

Randomly set up regular  “What if” and “How Might we” sessions on particular topics with your team.

Remember that Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.

(Bernard Baruch)

Thanks to Francesca Gino of Harvard Business Review for an interesting take on this topic.

Yours in engineering learning



Mackay’s Musings – 21st  August’18  #677

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The latest news

EIT News

Meet EIT Student Ambassador: Aaron Brook

This year two student ambassadors were selected to represent the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), Aaron Brook and Douglas Mugweni. In this profile piece, we are proud to introduce Aaron... Read more
EIT News

EIT Celebrates Two Decades of Group Training

No one knows the value of training better than EIT’s International Engineering Education Manager, Kevin Baker. This year, he celebrates his 21st anniversary in charge of the institute’s group training... Read more
EIT News

Making Smart Grids Smarter with Machine Learning

As energy demand continues to increase in parallel with the growth of the world population, our energy systems need to evolve to be more flexible, sustainable, and distributed. It was... Read more
EIT | Engineering Institute of Technology