Some have called the uakari monkey the shyest animal in the world. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some have called the squid the most curious animal in the world. Although introverts might argue the value of shyness, that still leaves much to be discussed about the value of curiosity.
The squid is often extremely curious about its surroundings. That curiosity pays off because squids are very intelligent. They can learn more about their environment and acquire new skills. Squids have been known to use tools to protect themselves.
I’m not knocking shyness. Quietude has its own value. Everyone is different and we have to be who we are.
However, I am knocking shyness when it comes to corporations. Uakari behavior will not produce nearly as much progress as squid behavior. Jeff Immelt (GE CEO) definitely embraces the squid approach to corporate strategy instead of the uakari approach. Bloomberg Businessweek Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait asked Immelt how he had changed GE during his tenure. Immelt’s response (2/13/17–2/19/17, pp. 22–23):
“I think the company’s more technical. It’s more global. It’s more focused on the customer. Those are the main things. When I became CEO, we were 70 percent inside the United States. Now we’re 70 percent outside the U.S.” (p. 23)
Clearly, GE is placing an emphasis on technology and the customer, all within the context of a growing global economy. Companies that do this well will be the companies that survive and thrive. And this is where it pays to be a squid.