The culture of curiosity

Developing marketing strategies for clients is a position of extraordinary privilege.

We’re given a unique opportunity to poke and pry into the life of a business or organisation with the freedom normally reserved for the CEO or Board of Directors, and we never take that for granted.

But if you haven’t participated in one of our strategic workshops, you might be surprised to find that often the first question we ask our clients is not what your strategic business plan is, or what your profit has been in the past five years, or what the new products you’ll be developing are.

We find, the most revealing question is often the simplest: why?

When I attended Mumbrella360 earlier this year (the marketing equivalent of the AFL Grand Final) the best session was on Habitual Innovation.

Reflecting on Edward de Bono’s process of building creativity, the session taught us that establishing a “culture of curiosity” by introducing a life-work mantra of “curiosity, novelty and courage” will lead our businesses and our people to become more innovative.

But according to de Bono, establishing a culture of curiosity means that you don’t just ask ‘why’ once – to get to the heart of the challenge, you need to continue asking ‘why’… at least five times.

Here’s how it works…

1. Why do you need help with your marketing?

Well, I’m currently spending half of my marketing budget on print advertising, and don’t know if it’s working.

2. Why?

Because our former marketing manager said it worked, but I’m not so sure.

3. Why?

They always said it was a less expensive option to TV and radio, and sales seemed to peak when we ran a campaign.

4. Why?

Well actually I don’t know. I have no way of telling how it really went, what led to sales, who bought our products or why?

5. Why?

Because I can’t track a customer’s journey from a print ad. And I don’t know what else I can do to drive sales in a cost-effective way?

In this short two-minute/five-question chat we move from a relatively benign response, to the crux of the problem – and a step towards how we can work together to solve it.

Since returning from Mumbrella we’ve strategically introduced this “culture of curiosity” into FULLER’s DNA emphasising the importance of “why” by incorporating the following three guiding principles into everything we do…


Curiosity is part of the art of telling someone else’s story in a captivating way.

We all love that little nugget of gold that’s revealed in a strategy session, or over a long interview – when the “why” tumbles unexpectedly from someone’s lips, leading to the perfect quote, headline, or creative concept for a new logo, tagline or ad.

But often it’s the simplest, most innocently curious queries that lead to those sparks of creativity, which is why we need to be brave enough to ask the seemingly naïve questions without fear of ridicule.

We should be able to be as curious as my four-year-old daughter who asks: “Daddy why is the sky blue?” and be treated with the same respect – as it’s these questions that lead to the most creative outcomes.


Embracing novelty is essential for innovative thinkers.

Change is good for our creativity, which is why we should choose a different route to work, sleep on the opposite side of the bed, or try a new recipe every week.

At work, why not embrace the unexpected – the 3pm flash dance, a different radio station, rotating desk chairs, or a spontaneous lunchtime group walk.

By “changing up” your routine you’ll change your perspective and see the world, and your business in a different light.


To be truly creative you have to be courageous.

This doesn’t necessarily mean jumping from a plane – although it might help. Being “courageous” in this context is about stretching yourself beyond your comfort-zone.

Spending time on the edge of “panic” can be uncomfortable but it’s also an essential part of innovative thinking. Whether you’re making a public speech or presenting to a board, or you moonlight as a professional ballroom dancer, challenging yourself beyond comfort from time to time will stimulate the adrenalin and endorphins needed to spark creativity.

If you push yourself and your employees often enough – driven by a sense of adventure rather than fear – then you’ll be rewarded with a creative, innovative work culture and a progressive, growing business or organisation ready to take on the world!

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