“Answers are more valued than inquisitive thought, and curiosity is trained out of us.” – Stephanie Vozza.
Watch a young child or elderly person pick up a smartphone or tablet computer for the first time. Just like the cat, they are inquisitive and inquiring, where curiosity knows no barrier.
When I consider the world of work in selling technology I sense we are losing our sense to be curious and inquisitive. Our ways of working is stifling our ability to do what we do well.
In 2010, chief executives’ told IBM that their businesses had adopted a ‘conspiracy of complexity’. They pleaded that “instead of the clarity we crave, we get ambiguity and more uncertainty”. (https://www.forbes.com/2011/02/23/slow-down-speed-efficiency-leadership-managing-ccl.html#2c79a3b94be1 )
If still true today ( and I suspect it is worse ) are we compounding this conspiracy from our insatiable urge for instant gratification? Are we getting lost in a confirmation bias of adopting what we want to hear ( or think we know ) . Are we becoming too intellectually arrogant as we push for shortcuts to win, or just survive? Is the run rate of we have to do exhausting and sacrificing that one human trait, being curious, that could actually make a positive difference?
So if you are still reading this then you might want to consider this simple behaviour test the next time you want to sell something. It can be done in your head or on a scrap of paper. Its low tech and can be quite powerful as a level set before heading down the complex route.
We all know our goal is to change someone’s behaviour to be on the same 'bus' as us. We do this to ensure they understand our value proposition, our story and to trust us enough to give their commitment. And we hope we are doing this in a simple, clear and unambiguous way.
But are we asking enough about what Behaviour looks like for them? Do we know what they are trying to change in their business? Have we made artificial skimmed assumptions based on our confirmation bias that we already know?
Now consider Motivation. We all know ours, but what is theirs?. What is the reason they need to change? Is it one thing or many? Are others setting the agenda and are they the instigator of change? Have we assumed we know because others have the same needs?
What about Ability. What do they need to see happen for them to be successful? It might be skills, time, money or something else. It might be uncertainty or fear. They may have a concern about you, or they need others to help them take your ideas forward.
And what is the Trigger for them to initiate a call to action. Yes, we all know what our call to action is ( sell etc ) but you must understand theirs. What triggers change in their organisation, and what do they need from you to help? How do you get them to be your agent of change? Have you asked them what it looks like? Basically you need them to believe your story sufficiently to go tell others when you have left the room to get consensus for your idea.
All of the above is quite elegantly wrapped into a simple equation first coined by a Stanford Professor called B. J. Fogg. Look it up. ( https://www.behaviormodel.org/ ).
Behaviour = Motivation + Ability + Trigger
Fogg discusses that to change behaviour requires all three elements to be present at the same time. This probably explains why Apple were so successful making smartphones, while others ( with similar Ability ) were not.
On reflection you may find consciously or sub-consciously that you perform daily the Fogg test to make decisions - small inconsequential ones, and large huge big ones. The CEOs' are no different.
Being curious fuels imagination, creativity and innovation. Some of the greatest inventions we take for granted came from someone being inquisitive, and the urge to know more about the situation at that time. Man on the moon springs to mind.
Questioning is like breathing — it’s something that seems so basic, so instinctive, that we take it for granted. But there’s a lot we can all learn about how to question, and really do it well to get the answers we seek.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious,” says Albert Einstein.