Jump to content


Recommended Posts

Almost everyone knows that something has gone wrong in American government, including in the contracting function. Many are calling for innovation as one solution. Where does innovation come from? Researchers think that curiosity is the key, and they have written a number of papers about the role of curiosity in the effectiveness of business and government and the need for curiosity in organizational culture and among workers.

See, e.g.: Kashdan, et al., "The Five Dimensions of Curiosity," Harvard Business Review (Sep. - Oct., 2018).


I want to recommend a good book: Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It (Basic Books, 2014), by Ian Leslie, 216 pages. Available via Amazon.com.

A Zen Koan:




Relaxing with the others after zazen one evening, Owl asked, "What is the spirit of the practice?"

Raven said, "Inquiry."

Owl cocked his head and asked, "What do I inquire about?"

Raven said, "Good start."


—From Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird, p. 19, by Robert Aitken. 

In Zen Buddhism, zazen is "the seated practice of focused inquiry and attunement."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hard to hire people with the specialized knowledge I need (contracts + accounting + FAR + CAS, essentially). A couple of years ago, we stopped worrying about specialized knowledge and started hiring for certain mental attributes--foremost among them: curiosity.  One candidate, while walking to the office for her interview, noticed the unusual carpeting in the hallway (it was truly unusual and there's an interesting story behind it). She asked, "What's the deal with this carpeting? Was is specially ordered? Why?"

After a brief interview to confirm her experience and that she was willing to read in order to fill her knowledge gaps, she received a job offer that same day.

Since we started the practice of hiring curious people, we have been astounded at how the department has changed!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm never disappointed whenever I poke into Recommended Reading :) 

First, thank you for the book recommendation, @Vern Edwards. Another one to add to the never-ending stack. 

And @here_2_help, your story really resonated with me. Back in my hiring manager days, curiosity was a key characteristic I sought for new hires, but only after I had been burned by focusing on those with the best qualifications.

One candidate, in particular, was extremely accomplished, and on paper, probably the smartest person I'd ever interviewed.  She resigned 8 months later, and was in the midst of a performance improvement plan that already wasn't going well. I contrasted her performance with that of another recent hire who didn't have the traditional background or qualifications, but always asked great questions. Questions that actually gave me pause and sometimes required me to re-examine how we did things.

Curiosity is a wonderful trait, and to me, it aligns with the "hire for attitude, train for skill" approach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...