radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

Converting Curiosity and Thought Experiments.

Apr 11, 2022

Dear Friend,

This week’s edition of the Learning Partner Digest comes mostly from the desk of Jeffrey while Jane and I are celebrating a friend’s wedding in Mexico. Being at the beach, with a group of close friends, celebrating the love of two very special people is a good reminder that there is much to be thankful for — including this wonderful community of change makers! 💛

Disrupt Disruption

If we take as a given today that there’s a huge upside to be realized by organizations hiring for and encouraging curiosity, the natural follow-on question centers around how we can convert the latent potential of curiosity into all the benefits organizations hope to realize: creative leadership, innovation, competency, etc. A group of researchers affiliated with the executive search firm Egon Zehnder published a study in HBR a couple of years ago suggesting that a particular set of what we might call “stretch experiences” were common to leaders who had converted their high levels of curiosity into particularly strong performance as organizational leaders. Specifically, these leaders had

  • Worked for more companies
  • Served more diverse customers
  • Worked abroad or on a multicultural team
  • Experienced more business scenarios
  • Managed larger teams

On one level, these stretch experiences suggest a set of potential set of useful soft-filters for hiring managers to assess high potential candidates who might already be more likely to convert that talent and curiosity into high-performance leadership. And going beyond that, we should all be thinking about how we can better enable similar experiences for high potential employees to convert curiosity into competence and creative leadership. (via Jeffrey)


Thought experiments are excellent tools for breaking free of present frames and assumptions and allowing ourselves to take in fresh or radically alternative perspectives on how we might approach challenges that have long since grown familiar to us. At be radical, we have often asked our clients to imagine what their business might look like if it were designed today without any limitation on resources or any reliance on (or investment in) legacy systems and infrastructure. The answers are frequently revealing and strongly suggestive of areas ripe for reinvention.

A similar set of questions can provide a varied set of lenses on the challenges of today, the assumptions we’ve carried – perhaps unknowingly – from yesterday, and the possible answers of tomorrow:

  • Scale — Imagine scaling any aspect of your business (factories, employees, inbound sales inquiries, community members, creators) up by as much as you’d like. What advantages are gained? Which systems break? What would you need to do to support operations at this scale indefinitely?
  • Solution — Imagine that you could magically solve any single problem in your organization. What would it be? What would the organization and its processes look like afterward? What would change? With that problem magically solved, what would the greatest remaining challenge be (and how might it be related)?
  • Sage — Imagine having the opportunity to consult any person from any time (a great historical figure, a current business leader, a creative innovator or artist, anyone you admire for whatever reason) for advice on an organizational challenge. How would you frame the challenge? What questions would you ask them? What questions do you imagine they would ask you? How might they approach the problem in new and different ways from your own perspective?

(via Jeffrey)

What We Are Reading

👥 Where We Go Wrong with Collaboration Our beliefs about how we feel we need to “show up” for others can lead to extreme collaborative overload and burnout. This article introduces nine common beliefs to reflect on; guarding against them will help you reclaim your time and redirect your efforts to where your contributions can add the most value. JaneRead

📈 The Small Steps of Giant Leaps Excelling at small choices that compound over time perpetually leaves you in favorable circumstances. No matter what happens in the world, you’re never in a position where you are forced into a bad decision. MafeRead

💾 How to Use Massive AI Models (Like GPT-3) in Your Startup Used judiciously, the new wave of powerful cloud machine learning services and hosted pre-trained models available from leading AI providers can power experimentation and kickstart product development for startups and innovation projects. JeffreyRead

🌏 Why We Should Read Hannah Arendt Now Whilst globalization has received a backlash for, by now, well-known reasons, revisiting Ahrendt’s writings, the Atlantic presents a further critical perspective on globalization and isolation. JulianRead

😣 From Belonging to Burnout, Five Years at Airbnb A good insight into what it means to work for one of the fast-growing, fun, inspiring places like AirBnB — as someone who has seen this happen to many of my friends, I can only attest to the two sides of the coin at play here. PascalRead

Internet Finds

A concerned classic Porsche owner wants to make sure you know what you are getting into, should you steal his Porsche 914. 😂🏎

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic: How To Make Your Own Luck

⚠️ Disrupt Disruption: Listen in on our latest conversation with Bruce Smith, founder and CEO of connect rowing machine company hydrow (and if you happen to be a hydrow rower — find Pascal on hydrow as “RowingPopeye” 🚣)

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)