Bill Russell knows a lot about success. He was the only National Basketball Association (NBA) player to win eleven championships in 13 years. In a single year, he won an NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and an NBA Championship.
In his book "Russell Rules" he tells us that to succeed, you have to continue to ask questions. Easy answers rarely lead to breakthroughs.
Russell describes curiosity as a process, and not a handful of isolated events. Curiosity is what keeps us focused on our goals. It drives us to experiment, measure, and eventually succeed in achieving our objectives.
"When commitment is coerced, thinking is not required - just obedience," Russell explains.
By contrast, when curiosity drives us, it results in our thinking of better ways to solve problems. In the software industry, this would explain why very few innovations seem to come from most larger development companies, while fresh new ideas seem to flow from small independent software vendors (microISVs).
Russell says that much of the success of the early Boston Celtics resulted from the desire of the players to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses, so that they could play better as a team. Curiosity led to commitment, which led to success.
Curiosity in the software industry should drive us to understand our competitors' successes and failures, so that we can develop and market better products and services.
Curiosity leads to commitment, which enables us to take risks and achieve difficult goals.