Time for brands to embrace curiosity
It is the late 1600s. A professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge is drowsing under a tree. An apple falls on his head. He turns, irritated and lulls back into sleep.
Luckily for us, this is not how history turned out. Sir Isaac Newton, described as a child as unnaturally precocious and curious, did not turn in irritation. The apple set off a chain of thoughts, which led to a series of papers, to the three laws of motion, and to the articulation of gravity.
Are many of us this curious? If you had an opportunity in a hotel room to sink into a bath tub after a long day, and the water spilled as you entered a full bath, what would your thoughts be? Would you worry about the floor being wet as you stepped out? Would you make a mental note to fill up less water the next time? Or would you, like Archimedes, wonder whether the water displaced was equal in volume to yourself?
Let’s reflect on this from a brand perspective. Suppose I set two equally intelligent MBAs to solve a particularly difficult brand image challenge. One of them locks himself in a room and draws charts, graphs, and applies data regression. The other analyzes existing information; additionally asks questions to a wide variety of people who have interacted with the brand, including an engineer, a farmer, a musician and an economist. Who do you think is more likely to find an innovative and relevant solution? How would this impact the engagement with the brand?
In both scenarios, personal and organizational, exploring unchartered territories owing to curiosity has a greater chance to bring about innovation. If you are curious, you are more likely to be innovative; and if you are innovative, you will be a more admired and engaging brand. At Mahindra, we believe that curiosity enables discoveries and innovations. Hence, we have decided to nurture curiosity. After all, solutions to many of the world’s problems can only emerge when one is curious and asks the right questions. We believe only the inquisitive ask these questions and challenge the status quo. If innovation is one’s focus, the brand/business should look to ‘embrace curiosity’. Our recent #NurtureYourCuriosity campaign is taking this message to the larger universe. This is yet another way by which we are enabling and encouraging our ecosystem to ‘Rise’ – Mahindra’s corporate purpose.
Allow me to share one of the stories of Mahindra’s innovation. Most vehicles in India are optimized for fuel efficiency. The amount of fuel injected in an engine is dictated by the weight of the vehicle. In most vehicles, this roughly stays the same, but in trucks there is a big difference in the weight of an unloaded truck and a loaded one. Our engineers were trying to build an array of sensors that would detect whether the truck was loaded or not, but this was proving expensive. Then one engineer asked a simple question: wouldn’t the driver know if the truck was fully loaded or not? This led to the addition of a ‘Fuel Smart’ button in our Maxximo range, followed by our trucks. Simply put, it indicates to the fuel injection unit whether a truck is full or not, resulting in a truck that is always at optimum fuel efficiency.
There are many similar stories across the Mahindra Group. Mahindra has been competing in the FIA Formula E world championship from inception. Our desire to find a global platform to fast-track the development of electric vehicle (EV) technology, as well as to showcase our EV prowess in a competitive setting, led us to go where no other Indian OEM has ventured so far. And, this has supported the development of the Automobili Pininfarina Battista, the fastest electric supercar, from the Mahindra Group.
Natural curiosity is the font of innovation. Most successful new business ideas are the result of curiosity backed by the desire to find an innovative solution. Whether Facebook, Uber, or Swiggy, the desire to find a more efficient technology-driven solution to an existing human need has changed paradigms and has created billions of dollars in value.
In the current age of rapid technological advancement, there is a constant need to think differently. Embracing curiosity to innovate will enable brands to remain competitive. It is curiosity that leads us to keep asking ourselves, ‘how can we do this better’ or ‘can we do this differently’? The ultimate objective of doing all this is to make the world a better place. So, let us all nurture our curiosity and be mini-innovators in our own right.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.