Are you curious about curiosity?

At SWOOP Analytics we have been measuring curiosity levels in groups, teams and across whole organisations for some time. The measure is simply the percentage of messages that are framed as questions. 

Our initial interest was to provide clear evidence that posts framed as questions generated far more replies that those that didn’t; therefore encouraging leaders, in particular, to ask more questions.

Our benchmarking showed a question would generate, on average, 150% more replies than a non-question post.  

During March, when the COVID-19 virus was starting to really impact organisations, we saw a distinct rise in curiosity levels, especially on enterprise platforms like Yammer and Workplace from Facebook. 

We had also begun working with deep listening specialist OscarTrimboli on a joint white paper on questioning. Oscar asked some of his own questions of us that sparked our curiosity.

Questions like; Does curiosity vary across industry? Organisational size? Country of head office? The SWOOP personas? Time in the network? Organisational form (hierarchy of networked)? Gender? Network Maturity? 

Some of the questions we could answer quite simply, others would take more effort and time. 

We went to our benchmarking data of close to 100 Yammer sites, 68 Workplace from Facebook networksaround 700 teams in Microsoft Teams and more than 2,400 Workplace groups looking for correlations we could find with our curiosity index.

As with all correlation studies the normal warning that correlation does not mean causation applies. For some, though, we could confidently infer a cause and effect e.g. asking a question would cause a higher level of responses.  

What did we find?  

The strongest statistically significant correlations across all platforms and levels of aggregation were:  

What we had previously identified; 

  • Number of replies received increased with curiosity.
  • % of reactions being a written reply (as opposed to a ‘like’) also increased with curiosity levels. 
  • Our culture studies showed curiosity was more a trait of networked organisations than the more hierarchical forms. 

What is new that we discovered; 

  • There was a strong correlation between curiosity and the SWOOP aspirational Engager Persona. 
  • Strong correlations between curiosity and two-way reciprocated connections were also found.
  • Strong correlations at the group/team levels between curiosity and the diversity index (measures active participation in multiple groups/teams). 
  • We couldn’t detect any difference for industry type from the 170+ organisations studied. 
  • Curiosity did not vary with team or group size. 
  • There was a weak negative correlation between organisation size and curiosity for Yammer networks only. 

Some speculative correlations from the larger 2,400+ Workplace from Facebook groups;

  • A strong negative correlation between curiosity and %Recognition (Likes and mentions). 
  • A negative correlation between curiosity and %Broadcasters. 
  • A negative correlation between curiosity and %Responders.

What can we take away from this?  

Beyond what we have reported earlier on questions eliciting more replies, it is indeed gratifying to find an association between curiosity and the aspirational SWOOP Engager persona and the levels of reciprocity. This finding tightly links curiosity to two of our most important factors in assessing the health of a group, team and/or organisation. 

The association between curiosity and diversity at the group and team level is also welcomed as these two measures have been selected by SWOOP as the proxy for innovation; being the most mature phase in our maturity modelSo curiosity is also likely related to maturity. 

As to the more speculative correlations; we know that Workplace from Facebook is a strong social media platform, as you would expect. But could it be true that the behaviours mostly associated with social media viz shared media, copious ‘likes’, etc. actually dampens curiosity? Have a look at your own Facebook feed. Do you see many questions being asked? Or is it mostly about telling and liking? 

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