“Curiosity is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
A compelling article in Harvard Business Review titled “Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence” reminds me of why some professional service firms are just better than others.
We’re paid to deliver expert advice, often on topics and situations whose complexity is increasing. The reason for this uptick in complexity can sometimes be rooted in self-preservation, e.g. complicated tax laws keep lawyers and accountants busy, but generally it’s tied to more options being available today to solve a problem. More options bring more information for expert advisors to consider – often a lot more – when trying to arrive at the best solution.
This is where the top advisors distinguish themselves. As the article states, producing simple solutions for complex problems is a main goal for consultants. One’s knowledge is certainly a key contributing factor to accomplish this, but as an increasing amount of information becomes available, understanding all of it is impossible. Knowledge becomes less important.
What becomes more important is curiosity. Curiosity drives smart questioning and digging deeper into a pile of information to uncover viable options. It is a critical attribute for advisors to have. It’s what clients want from someone helping them with a complicated matter, and they reward curious consultants with valuable input that the less curious, less interested consultants don’t receive.
The final point of the article is one that all trusted advisors should think about: The world is changing so quickly that what we’ve learned through our IQs will be less and less useful over time. One thing that will counter this effect is CQ (curiosity quotient). Without enough CQ, we risk losing intelligence and the benefits that come with it.