April 29, 2022

Curious Minds: How childhood wonder has inspired innovative and empathetic decision-making, and collaborative team efforts

“In my home province, milk was most often sold in bags and inserted into open-top jugs. My parents would cut a tiny corner out of the front and the back of the bag before pouring. Somewhere along the way, I picked up this habit. It hadn’t occurred to me to question the process until I, myself, was asked to provide a reason, and I didn’t have an answer.”

“I presented my curiosity to my family and received two reasonings: cutting two holes ‘helped with air circulation’ or ‘stopped the bag from toppling over.’ I set forth to conduct my own experiments. Lo and behold, the second hole undoubtedly helped the bag stay upright. I wasn’t qualified to speak on the air circulation. I made my decision and continued to make two cuts.”

We would bet good money that everyone has picked up a habit that they witnessed from someone close to them when they were young. Inadvertently, we tend to adopt these quirks as our own before we gain the ability to make decisions for ourselves. Oftentimes, we will never question these practices, and may never question them. For some of us, simple acceptance isn’t an option.

“At Thanksgiving dinner, I had asked my mom why she was cutting the ends of the ham off. She told me, ‘That’s how I was raised’. Dissatisfied with the explanation, I went to my grandmother to ask the same question and, disappointingly, received the same answer.”

“It wasn’t until I approached my great-grandmother that I received some semblance of reasoning. Back in her days, she lived on a farm. The ham was bigger than the pan and the oven, so they would cut the ends off to make it fit.”

“It made sense… back then. The world had changed; hams were bigger and so were ovens. It hardly seemed necessary to carry the tradition along to fit current day’s standards.”

There is something unique about someone who is inherently curious; someone who questions the “How’s” and the “Why’s” of a predicament; someone who visualizes endless opportunities; someone who seeks answers and supplies alternative solutions to problems, both big and small.

In November of 2021, the Accounting Pod of 360 was rebranded as the “Performance Pod”, aptly named by their fellow Pod mates. The reason? It couldn’t simply be just because of high performance – plenty of teams in plenty of companies are high-performing, and how “high-performing” on its own is defined and exhibited is often up to interpretation. So, what sets the Performance Pod apart, and what makes us stand out?

We asked each other that very question and, simply put… infinite, persistent curiosity – what we like to call a “Curious Mind.”

“Having a curious mind means you show a level of inquisitive virtue, which leads you to always look for an answer.”

The Performance Pod is made up of unique individuals from equally unique personal and professional backgrounds, all of whom bring their own distinct flavours, flairs, and feats to the table. We share an unquenched thirst for knowledge; an unsatiated desire to learn; a sort of peculiar enjoyment at the discovery of something we don’t yet understand, and the deep-rooted satisfaction of familiarizing ourselves with its complexities. Yet, the most defining attribute is our approach to our tasks as challenges – challenges that make us question the process, that inspire us to visualize and collaborate, and that create opportunities for improvement.

“I used to work somewhere that not only rejected change but feared it. The Performance Pod is the first team I have been a part of that finally celebrates the idea of change and encourages us to seek answers and alternatives. It’s one thing to have a Curious Mind on your own, but when you are part of a community of curious people, the world of opportunity is truly endless.”

In the Performance Pod, we are constantly humbled by Protagoras’ Paradox: “The more you learn, the less you know”. Naturally, this can be overwhelming. Our world is fueled by advancement in business and technology, and the evolution of the self. We are consistently kept on our toes. With seemingly endless opportunities for growth and progression, how could we possibly come to learn everything and keep up?

It can feel comfortable to accept the world as we see it and not ponder its possibilities, but in contrast, the more often we know nothing, the more opportunity we have to evolve. Change and Innovation are key factors to the success of a team and an integral part of how a company can effectively function.

“Teams grow because they are responding to their external and internal environment to meet the changing needs of the business. Without change and innovation, we would not be able to improve processes, which would hinder our work.”

So, what motivates a Curious Mind? Just as anything else, motivation is unique to the individual and can be fueled by both intrinsic and extrinsic values – passion, innovation, praise, personal development, happiness. However, a shared attribute between the Curious Minds of the Performance Pod is a like-mindedness, a shared goal of the team’s success through consistent improvement and support, intrigue and openness, and a proactive approach to learning.

One of the more surprising results of having a Curious Mind cannot be measured with metrics or statistics; it can only be measured by connection and heart… curiosity produces empathy.

Teamwork and partnership are natural results of a group of people working together to fuel each other’s instinctive inquisitiveness. Rarely is curiosity displayed in the form of a self-driven initiative for the individual’s success; as selfish motivation for one’s ego.

When we are inspired to look at things from the eyes of someone else, and when we step into the metaphorical shoes of someone who thinks differently than we do, we can learn more about how our solutions resonate with others, and how they can be improved to connect with and accommodate them.

“Teamwork means including everyone’s role, no matter how big or small, into the grand scheme of our jobs. As Boyd would say, ‘every little thing counts.’ Your contributions matter. Even if my opinions or contributions don’t always come to fruition, the dialogue of talking it out leads to an even better solution for everyone. I’m not afraid of sharing. Each person inspires me to be better.”

Over the last two years, the Performance Pod has bulked itself up with unique, like-minded individuals and continuing to foster these values. From this, we have increased monthly invoicing exponentially, made trainers out of trainees, and cut hours out of our days by experimenting and implementing various reports or designing templates, increasing our efficiency and effectiveness. We’ve shared our methods and practices with our fellow Pods, acquired new business from our continued efforts, and maintained a competitive edge unlike any other.

In the Performance Pod, we have a motto: “teamwork makes the dreamwork.” It started as somewhat of a gag, and we swore we would replace it in time with something a bit more clever, more witty, more us. But truly, there is nothing more honest to our team than this one line, now said like a chant, a resonant calling that we cheer out in unison through virtual communication of Microsoft Teams group chats, dad jokes, and GIF exchanges. The Performance Pod is a place for intrigue and encouragement; a place to celebrate our successes and comfort in our failures (what we like to call “learning opportunities”).

“Our culture must be the most important thing.  This is a non-toxic and completely organic culture which allows everyone in our team to thrive, as it allows us to focus pertinently on our duties and our roles. The lack of being micromanaged provides team members with the confidence they need to instill organic growth.”

We all know the likes of profound Curious Minds who changed and shaped the world we live in today – Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, Carl Sagan, Ludwig van Beethoven, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell. While the Performance Pod may not be making headlines, it is changing the way things function around 360.

The beauty of a Curious Mind is the refusal to see the limits of our current understanding as permanent barriers. In the Performance Pod, knowledge is a right, not a luxury. Simply put, Curious Minds enjoy the process of learning, and actively seek out new opportunities to do so.

While making space for persistent curiosity may sound frightening at first, it’s allowed us to become flexible, inventive, and ingenious. Curiosity has taught us to always seek answers and to constantly think of new and exciting ways to make what we do even better – for our clients, our teammates, and ourselves.

“We are all treated equally, the way we would like to be treated. I can talk to any of my teammates or leaders in confidence about any topic, whether it’s directly related to our work or not. It can be very easy to feel left behind, especially in bigger teams. Every single person in our Pod can contribute.”

Maybe what we’re curious about is irrelevant… but maybe it’s not. Maybe we already have answers… but maybe we don’t have all of them, and what a perfect opportunity to find out just how much more we could learn. The Performance Pod’s intrigue is our compass, and higher knowledge the distant horizon.

You never know what worlds of opportunity will open. All you need to do is be a little bit curious.

“The dream is an efficient process that makes 360 a success. It takes teamwork to deliver the dream. That’s fun to say.”

 

Written by Megan Rolfe & Cole Rayner

Contributed to by the 360 Performance Pod

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