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To make CCNA’s growth aspiration of +1 possible, leadership believes four key growth behaviors must be prevalent throughout the Coca-Cola culture. The first one will make you downright curious . . . because it is curious.

Every company needs a good dose of curiosity, and a company undergoing seismic change – akin to what Coca-Cola has been undertaking – needs even more. Michael Dell, founder of Dell computers, once replied when asked to name the one attribute leaders need most to succeed amid change: “I would place my bet on curiosity.”

At CCNA, President Jim Dinkins has explained curiosity this way: It means no longer settling for the status quo, or just doing something the traditional Coke way.

Forget IQ, It’s Your CQ That Matters

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It all starts with curious employees. But what makes them curious? A Harvard Business Review (HBR) article discusses what some call the curiosity quotient (CQ). Although not as studied as the IQ and EQ, “there’s some evidence to suggest it is just as important when it comes to managing complexity in two major ways,” according to HBR.

“First, individuals with higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity, a nuanced, sophisticated, subtle thinking style. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art.”

Boil it down and CQ basically means having a hungry mind. Says HBR: “People with higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They find novelty exciting and are quickly bored with routine. They tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, during an interview in November 2017, attributed his success to three things: never multitask, take risks and approach problems with “child-like curiosity.”

A Shout Out to Passionate Curiosity

This appears to be the mindset of many successful CEOs. Adam Bryant, the New York Times writer and author of “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” writes that “passionate curiosity” is a common trait among the 70 chief executives he’s interviewed over the years.

Bryant writes: “Why passionate curiosity? The phrase is more than the sum of its parts, which individually fall short in capturing the quality that sets these C.E.O.’s apart. There are plenty of people who are passionate, but many of their passions are focused on just one area. There are a lot of curious people in the world, but they can also be wallflowers.

But ‘passionate curiosity’ — a phrase used by Nell Minow, the co-founder of the Corporate Library — better captures the infectious sense of fascination that some people have with everything around them. Passionate curiosity, Minow said, “is indispensable, no matter what the job is. You want somebody who is just alert and very awake and engaged with the world and wanting to know more.”

Curious Means Remaining Ambitious in Failure and Success

eaders also can encourage curiosity in others. A January 2018 article in HBR states, “Leaders play a significant role in helping employees understand why their jobs matter, but it’s not just about connecting their work to a larger purpose. You can also do it by demonstrating curiosity: Explore, ask questions, and engage people on their ideas about the future. Make clear that there is a wide range of possibilities for how work gets done and that you want your employees to try new things.”

HBR went on to say that leaders should “remain ambitious in the face of both failure and success, and push your people to continually accomplish more.”

Merck, the giant pharmaceutical company, was so curious about its employees’ curiosity that it commissioned a survey in 2015 of U.S. workers. The idea: measure employee levels of curiosity and the level of curiosity supported by their employers. Among the key findings:

Curiosity at Coca-Cola

In the Minute Maid Business Unit, a cross-functional team embraced curiosity around the launch of Simply Light. The team set out to answer the question, “What if we could deliver a great tasting low calorie juice drink made the Simply Way?” and ultimately created a light orange juice that has 50 percent less sugar and calories, and a light lemonade that has 75 percent less sugar and calories.

So, a toast to the power of curious at Coca-Cola. Keep asking, keep wondering, and keep being curious.

Tell Us About the Curious at Coke:

Seen anything curious around Coca-Cola? As in, someone or some team that has displayed curiosity in a way that has benefited the company? Submit your examples of successes that illustrate the curious growth behavior to Amy Sparks at amsparks@coca-cola.com.