Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

Questions About Curiosity and Imagination 

What happens in business environments where curiosity and imagination flourish?  How are curiosity and imagination related to ethics and business leadership?How are curiosity and imagination important in today’s business environment?

Why Curiosity and Imagination Matter

Some of the ways that curiosity and imagination matter in business environments include that:

  • Curiosity Helps Keeps People Open, Listening to Each Other and Engaged in Working Together
  • Curiosity and Imagination Allow People to See Issues From Multiple Perspectives
  • Curiosity and Imagination Help People Solve Problems
  • With Good Leadership, Curiosity and Imagination Become Innovation
  • Innovation Helps Companies Adapt
  • Adapting Helps Companies Stay Competitive

But are Curiosity and Imagination Really Necessary in Ethics?

On the surface, it doesn’t seem that curiosity and imagination are related to ethics. But think about what would happen in an environment where people were not able to use them. Could employees still be relied on to consistently behave ethically in an environment where they were not engaged in their work, and where they did not feel respected or fairly treated?

“I shall argue that the role of curiosity and imagination for both science and ethics is so important that nurturing them can be seen as an ethical obligation and suppressing them as ethically problematic.”

EH Loewy, University of California, Davis Medical Center in his article  “Curiosity, Imagination, Compassion, Science and Ethics: Do Curiosity and Imagination Serve a Central Function?” in Health Care Analysis

Thinking More Broadly, Within Boundaries

We wouldn’t want people to be limited to only using familiar ideas, and on the other hand we wouldn’t want people to act on every idea they may come up with. The paradox is resolved by cultivating imagination in the context of ethical boundaries for behavior. A high-trust, high-expectation culture sets the stage for both imagination and ethical behavior.

“Why do we need an ethics of imagination?  Because ethics without imagination is dogma, and imagination without ethics is dangerous. “

Wrye Sententia, in her article The Ethics of Imagination: The Space Between Your Ears, Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. “

Albert Einstein

 For Further Reading: 

I’m Curious: Can we Teach Curiosity? by Chris Guthrie, Hamline University

Curiosity, Imagination and Failure: The New Big Three by Zane Safrit, American Express Open Forum

5 Unethical Phrases: Low Trust by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic: Red, Green and Yellow Zones by Linda Fisher Thornton, LeadinginContext.com

Cultivating Curiosity, CuriousMind.com

Linda Fisher Thornton is Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies.

The latest publication to be added to the Leading in Context® Store is a 17-block Ethical Interpersonal Behavior Graphic for businesses wanting to communicate clear boundaries for responsible behavior.


About Linda Fisher Thornton
Author of 7 Lenses, Speaker, Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations Through Proactive Ethical Leadership, CEO Leading in Context, 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, Adj. Assist. Prof. of Ethics and Leadership, UR SPCS

One Response to Curiosity and Imagination Necessary Ingredients in Ethical Business

  1. Pingback: The People Equation hosts the June 2011 Leadership Development Carnival — The People Equation

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