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In the pursuit of excellence, a shift has emerged, favoring curiosity over contentment, openness over rigidity, and innovation over convention. This progressive approach is encapsulated in the principle of Explore, a cornerstone of Skip Bowman’s transformative book “Safe to Great – The New Psychology of Leadership.”
A driving force behind the principle of Explore is the wisdom of Satya Nadella, who champions a “learn-it-all” culture over a “know-it-all” mindset. This shift in perspective, as expressed by Nadella, encapsulates the heart of exploration. It promotes an environment where the thirst for knowledge surpasses the need to assert expertise, enabling teams and organizations to remain receptive to new insights, ideas, and growth opportunities. Nadella’s ethos aligns seamlessly with the essence of Explore, fostering a dynamic atmosphere of continuous learning and innovation.
The Essence of Explore
In a world of constant change, the principle of Explore urges us to adopt a mindset of growth and innovation. It invites leaders and teams to welcome new ideas, regardless of their source, and to embrace continuous learning as an essential trait.
Explore encourages us to step beyond our comfort zones. It encourages us to question established norms, consider perspectives that challenge our assumptions, and dismantle our biases. Leaders and teams following this principle cultivate a culture of openness to novel approaches.
Learning from Mistakes and Finding Humor
In the journey of innovation, Explore acknowledges the value of mistakes as opportunities for growth. This aligns with insights from Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas in “Humour, Seriously.” The ability to find humor even in setbacks fosters creativity and stronger team relationships.
The story of Ed Catmull and Pixar exemplifies Explore. Catmull’s leadership, alongside Steve Jobs and John Lasseter, fostered an environment where exploration thrived. This was facilitated through planned encounters, learning communities, and a culture receptive to feedback.
“Never underestimate a French rat” – Skip Bowman, Safe to Great – the New Psychology of Leadership
Guiding through Curiosity
Curiosity serves as a guiding light for exploration. It’s a trait that defines innovators—those who actively seek new knowledge, challenge norms, and fearlessly explore new territories. Curiosity supports a culture of learning from failures and nurturing imperfect ideas into successful solutions.
Cultivating a Culture of Resilient Innovation
At its core, Explore cultivates a culture that embraces experimentation, values diverse perspectives, and appreciates the process of iteration. It promotes cross-functional learning, encourages honest exchanges, and leverages unconventional insights.
Navigation Points for Exploration
The compass for exploration offers some key points:
- Feedback’s Influence: Act on feedback, whether positive or constructive.
- Infusing Playfulness: Incorporate play into work for stimulating innovation.
- Cultivating Humility: A culture of humility, both socially and cognitively, supports growth.
- Expanding Perspectives: Suspend judgment, broaden your mental horizons, and welcome the unexpected.
- Learning from Surprising Sources: Extract value from even unexpected or unconventional sources.
The principle of Explore stands as a guiding force, urging teams and leaders to embrace change, convert failures into opportunities, and transform ideas into progress. As demonstrated by Pixar and other innovative companies, this ethos forms the foundation of advancement.
Author of Safe2Great, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset