Last Saturday was probably the first day of the year that really started to feel like spring to me. It was relatively warm, it was Saturday, and although I didn’t feel confident enough in the warmth in the valley to cruise up one of the canyons, I did take the bike out for several hours and visited some of the quite towns in central Utah. It felt good to put some miles underneath me.
I’ve discovered that on the motorcycle I’m content to ride on roads that I typically don’t in a car. On the bike I’m usually not in the mood to quickly get from one place to another and am often in the mood to explore. Once you get off the highway, you discover some pretty interesting things. It made me wonder if sometimes we spend too much time on the freeway at work trying to quickly get from one place to another—or from one task to the next.
Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
I think the curiosity Disney was talking about is important, whether your talking about a process, your career or a new project. Part of staying engaged in the work is discovering, exploring new ideas, and stretching. Doing the same things day in and day out is a recipe for boredom and burnout.
Have you ever switched roles around on your project team? Given members of the team the opportunity to participate in a different way or try something new? You might be surprised at how energizing that can be. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into a rut if we’re doing the same tasks day in and day out. Taking the time to explore often provides breakthroughs that allow us to move forward or innovate.
I recently spoke with a project leader who gave an opportunity to try something new to a long-time member of the team. He went from an average, even mediocre, member of the team to a star performer. All it took was a chance to get off the superhighway for a minute and try something new.
Of course there are some roles and team members who have such specialized skill sets that it might not be practical, but think about it—you might be surprised.
I know for me, climbing on the bike allows me to slow down and enjoy a change of scenery (even if it’s only for a few hours). What do you do with your project team to foster an environment of curiosity and creativity?