Redwood Performance Group

Now that vacation season is in full swing, I hope you’re taking some time to kick back and enjoy what has been a fantastic summer so far. Taking time to decompress and regenerate is essential for people in the L&D industry—especially when you consider all the recent exciting and challenging developments in our sector: new organizational structures such as hybrid workplaces and new ways to learn.

And now that you have (I hope!) just a bit of time to relax and unwind, have you thought of how change can trigger new learning opportunities? Or how to leverage the increasing necessity to learn new items and renew old topics in record time? Does this give us an opportunity to stimulate and enhance the level of a learner’s curiosity? 

We think so!

At Redwood, we’ve made asking that question a habit, leading us to be true believers in nurturing and supporting a culture of curiosity. A culture where people are free to ask “why?”, “what?” and “how?”—and are encouraged to do so often. 

Level of Curiosity Impacts Level of Learning Success

We believe that a learner’s level of curiosity will, more than any other factor, determine the level of learning success. For many years, we’ve worked with hundreds of leading organizations. And we can say without reservation that a culture of curiosity is a common denominator of those that thrive in their learning and development programs. 

Employees in these successful companies are encouraged to express their curiosity by routinely asking questions. Perhaps most importantly, they work to create a culture where questioning is viewed as a virtue instead of the questioners being seen as defiant or “not getting it.”

Elliott Maisie and the Importance of Curiosity

Learning expert Elliott Masie addressed the importance of curiosity in a recent post on his Notes blog:

“I believe that the Curiosity Level of an employee is one of the best predictors of learning success! When we teach a colleague one-to-one, we can probe, ask, or sense their curiosity about the topic. When we analyze the behaviour of a class of employees, we can analyze whether this was a high, medium, or low curiosity group of learners.”

But how does that translate to online learning? 

Harnessing a Learner’s Natural Curiosity

At Redwood, we believe in harnessing a learner’s natural curiosity. When we design a project, we go to great lengths to consider not only the core learning requirements and desired outcomes but also how the learning can be presented to achieve the highest possible curiosity metric. In other words, how can we leverage the learner’s naturally inquisitive nature to make the learning more relevant and engaging? 

For example, on one project, we had to teach new grocery cashiers how to use a cashier scroll to access prices and codes for hundreds of items quickly and efficiently. Our solution: a challenging digital interactive game that enables learners to build proficiency while scoring on speed and accuracy. Since the game was designed to be played on mobile devices, learners could compete and improve scroll skills at the time and place of their choosing. The metrics fed the learner’s success and fed us useful data.

A high curiosity metric is also reflected in the significant diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) projects we completed for several large companies embracing this cultural shift. In this type of project, learners must understand that DEI isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. When learners are curious as to why diverse companies outperform and learn the many benefits DEI brings, they are much more likely to embrace inclusivity in the workplace and beyond. 

These examples highlight just a few of the benefits derived when your instructional design philosophy rests on three objectives: make learning relevant, personal, and capable of awakening a learner’s desire to know more. Combine that with data and we can really move the needle in the right direction.

So, while you’re between the pages of a summer novel or toweling off from a dip in the lake, I encourage you to consider how you can engage your learners more completely by awakening the most powerful learning tool of all: curiosity!