The 11 Human Values of Curiosity

John Welsh

The 11 Human Values of Curiosity

It’s an unusual idea to be forced to stop and think about what it means to be curious. Curiosity by nature is something that we often do without giving much thought, as we explore, investigate and learn within the world around us.

But from a professionally, personally and even an organisational standpoint it’s a skill that’s good for business. In partnering with Microsoft we’ve allowed ourselves to open up a world of ideas, learnings and most importantly, shared curiosity.

Both companies’ hero the importance of understanding the needs of their customer. And we understand that, for this to happen, we must stay curious. And to provide the best possible outcome, we need to be constantly pushing ourselves to ask questions.

From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed pulling things apart and putting them back to together again. This characteristic has given me a unique perspective on life. It excites me to learn how other people think and what matters to them. When a company, like Microsoft, prioritises nurturing and what makes you curious (or excited) that’s where, together, we add the most value.

Understanding the mechanics of the 11 human values that make up a curious person can help an organisation to cultivate them breeding innovation and discovery within the workplace.

Understanding human curiosity

In the book Above the Line: How to create a company culture that engages employees, delights customers and delivers results, author Michael Henderson outlines that there is a collective pool of 128 known human values to be found across cultures from around the world. Not all values are present in every culture. Not all values are held in the same degree of priority by any given individual in any culture either.

Michael Henderson identified a subset of eleven of these values to be more likely to lend themselves to be beyond just the recipient of an individual’s curiosity, and in fact act as a stimulant to initiate the drive or inclination of curiosity. These are:

  • Creative Ideation - Transform ideas into concrete form
  • Discovery/Insight - Motivated by moments of discovery and insight
  • Education/Knowledge - Engage in ongoing learning to gain new facts, truths, principles and insights
  • Pioneerism/Progress - Pioneer new ideas for change (including technology) and provide the framework for realising them
  • Research/Original Knowledge - Investigate and contemplate truths and principles to create and communicate original insights
  • Search/Meaning - An inner longing to integrate my feelings, imagination and knowledge to discover my unique place in the world
  • Self-actualisation - Develop full potential through spiritual, mental and physical practices
  • Wisdom - Seek the wisdom that stems from understanding a set of universal principles
  • Wonder/Curiosity - Experience a sense of marvel and wonder through the exploration of nature and the physical world
  • Communal Discernment - I tap into communal wisdom to determine the way forward through careful reflection and honest, open dialogue
  • Design/Pattern/Order - I use systems and thinking to create new patterns/structures in my daily life

Each value has been identified as belonging to three separate motivational groups, known as Control, Relating and Development Values.

When we look at the 11 values most likely to stimulate curiosity, the majority of these belong to the Development Values group. These values motivate people to understand, explore, consider, ponder, research, study, investigate, mediate and contemplate their place in the world. All these values, by definition, have a strong likelihood to trigger the experience of curiosity.

Curiosity at work

For me, curiosity is critical to understanding and solving core business problems. I often say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. That’s how I approach work too.

Rackspace has ‘brown bag’ sessions, where we bring people together, to share best practice and challenges experienced in the business. We’ve had Microsoft, led by our partner Sr Cloud Solution Architect, update us on the innovations created for Azure and bring new ideas to the table, which ensures we continue to grow in our roles.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m a small part of a large universe, so it’s important to understand what to prioritise and work with people/places that have similar value sets.

Stay Curious #CuriousMinds

How else can you build a culture of innovation?