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What creates new ideas and helps people be more innovative? This question motivated Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany to launch an international study a few years ago, the results of which are published in “The 2016 State of Curiosity Report.” As a leader in science and technology, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany recognizes that curiosity is the driving force behind human progress and development. So last year, the company decided to see if they could help their teams become more curious.

The company partnered with the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and Porsche Consulting (Germany, with a team assigned to a project in Australia) to test some techniques designed to drive curiosity. Over six months, each team received a number of trainings in different approaches that help develop a more curious mindset. Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute was honored to be part of the study.

On three continents with three different teams working in three completely different fields, the group created the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program, a six-month field test to determine whether what they defined as “the four dimensions of curiosity”—inquisitiveness, creativity in problem solving, openness to other ideas and distress tolerance—would enhance workplace curiosity and if more curiosity would then generate more innovation. The teams received customized trainings according to the results of a survey conducted prior to the program, including tools like Brainwriting and the Cross innovation tool that directly train creative thinking.

SIYLI’s mindfulness meditation training played a significant role in the program and helped define one of the most challenging dimensions of curiosity: distress tolerance. Along with peer coaching and other tools, the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program invited SIYLI to teach the Search Inside Yourself program (SIY) at the beginning of the six-month study for all three teams. SIY helps participants manage challenging situations and negative emotions, and helps build resilience. Through the techniques taught in SIY, people tend to become better able to manage stress, which opens up the mental space for more curiosity and creativity.
Ingo Koehler, global head of R&D Lighting at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, described the impact of the 2017 Lab Partnership Program as “overwhelming.” He added, “What’s more, in the course of the training, the group realized that there are many more things that can drive curiosity than we had ever considered. They also now feel that we need to see failure as acceptable, as something that needs to happen before we can devise new innovations.”

“The 2016 State of Curiosity Report” found that curious workers are more likely to hold leadership positions and be extremely satisfied at work. As a result of the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany reports that the words “obstacles” or “limits” no longer dominate internal workplace discussions. And teams collaborate more, spawn more ideas and are more open to new concepts.

Only 20 percent of 3,000 worldwide workers from different industries who took part in “The 2016 State of Curiosity Report” self identified as curious. How curious are you? Take Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s curiosity test, learn more about the findings from the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program and bring SIY to your company to help foster a curious culture.