"Curiosity is our driving force and we now seek to empirically demonstrate that anyone can increase their own level of curiosity," said Stefan Oschmann, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck. "We are convinced that along with optimism and confidence, curiosity can help find solutions to many of the greatest challenges facing mankind."
Merck is partnering with teams from Porsche Consulting and the Weizmann Institute of Science to field-test evidence-based organizational practices, created to enhance all four dimensions of curiosity: inquisitiveness, creativity in problem solving, openness to other ideas, and distress tolerance, within the participating partner teams. The Curiosity Lab Partnership program is designed to show the impact curiosity has on meaningful business outcomes.
"We're living in a time of revolutionary business where curiosity is not a choice, but critical to business success. Merck has given us a path forward, we are curious to participate and of course and to learn the results of this experiment," is how Claus Lintz, Partner at Porsche Consulting explained why his team of consultants for the aerospace industry is participating in the six-month experiment.
The three teams of up to 15 people each are working in completely different areas. The Porsche Consulting team is active on a client project in Australia, while the participating Weizmann Institute team is focused on safety in the working place at the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
"Curiosity is the lifeblood of the Weizmann Institute of Science. We create trends, we don't follow trends. The path forward to become more curious is set. The return on investment is clear: more curiosity, more trendsetting," said Paz Barnett, Assistant to the Vice President for Administration and Finance, Weizmann Institute of Science, and head of the second participating team.
Lastly, the third team recruited for the curiosity experiment is working at Merck in research and development of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting.
A curious organization is an innovative, productive, and successful organization that can better differentiate itself from its competitors. "I am convinced the Curiosity Lab Partnership program can lead to game-changing ideas that will differentiate a business in a competitive environment," said Ingo Köhler, Head of Research and Development Lighting within the Performance Materials business sector at Merck. Köhler heads the Merck team in the Curiosity Lab Partnership program.
During and after the six-month period, data will be collected in all three teams and analyzed to understand changes in employee curiosity, employer support for curiosity, and the innovation environment. This quantitative data, combined with the qualitative data collected at monthly check-ins, will eventually support the hypothesis that one can increase the level of curiosity in the participating teams.
Merck will monitor the progress of this experiment during the six months and will report the outcome after a thorough analysis of the collected data. During the experiment, Merck will regularly update curiosity.merckgroup.com with approaches from the Curiosity Lab Partnership Program. These approaches are also meant to be used by visitors to this website and for applications designed to drive or increase the curiosity of the readers themselves.
Merck launched the Curiosity Initiative in August 2016 to promote curiosity. On the interactive online platform at curiosity.merckgroup.com, visitors can take a self-test to find out how curious they are. There are also tips for overcoming creative blocks and a number of fascinating articles on the subject of curiosity. The scientific foundation of the Curiosity Initiative is the Merck Curiosity Council, consisting of experts in the field of curiosity research. The Council is composed of Professor Todd Kashdan of George Mason University in Virginia, USA, and Dr. Carl Naughton, German-English author, scholar, and speaker. He has researched and taught in the field of educational psychology at the University of Cologne, and also written books on the topics of thinking, communication, and curiosity. Further members of the Council include Andreas Steinle, CEO of the Future Institute in Kelkheim/Frankfurt and Dr. Kunlin Wei, professor of psychology at the Institute for Psychological and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Beijing, China, and Sophie von Stumm, MSc and Ph.D. in psychology, professor, lecturer, scientist and researcher. Von Stumm studies the role that personality traits like curiosity play for developing skills and expertise.
About Porsche Consulting
Headquartered in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Porsche Consulting GmbH is a subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Founded in 1994 with a staff of four, it currently employs more than 400 people. An internationally active company with four subsidiaries of its own in Milan, São Paulo, Atlanta, and Shanghai, it is one of Germany's leading management consultancies. Following the principle of "strategic vision, smart implementation," its experts advise large corporations and medium-sized companies worldwide in the automotive, aviation and aerospace, and mechanical and plant engineering industries. Clients also come from the financial services, consumer goods, retail, and construction sectors.
About Weizmann Institute of Science
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.