Are You Curious?
The key to innovation and the key to creativity is being curious. But we don't really give ourselves permission to be curious in our daily life. Probably because life is moving really, really fast. You know, if you think about the pace of everyday living, the pace at which we're expected to produce things, unless we're actually given by our leaders a space to be curious and ask questions, we're really just being asked for answers. Smash 'em out. And yet, Dr. Seuss being one of my favorite adventurous thinkers, and the same Meyers-Briggs profile as me, the key again is possibility and process, not knowledge. If we're looking for innovation, and every educator, every business, every human right now is looking for innovation, it's the buzzword of the moment, if we're looking for innovation, we need to be considering possibility. We need to be looking for what it can become, and not what it is, and so I present to you Leonardo da Vinci's to-do list. And this is just one of many. This was f...
ound in one of his gazillion workbooks. But if you have a look at this to-do list, it's full of action. I mean, if you talk about a growth mindset, the idea that we're constant learning, which is the basis of creative life, constant learning, and constantly taking in new information in, weaving it together in a tapestry with what we know, with what might be. Now have a look at this Leonardo da Vinci work list. Of course he doesn't have a computer. So he's actually having to go out and first-hand collect everything he needs. He's calculating, measuring, drawing, examining, and most of all, he's talking to wise people. You know, there's that classic Chinese quote, that "A conversation with a wise man "is worth ten years of study." In this case, he's having these massive communications, he's doing what we're talking about: cross-pollination. He's heading out, talking to experts outside his field, and learning new things constantly. But if we were given this list, what would we do? The first thing we would do? Hit me. We'd go to Google. Right? We could Google most of this stuff. But the thing about going to Google or Bing or any of those online search engines is what we're getting back is so curated. You know, it knows where we're located; it knows what we've already searched; it knows what people are paying the most money to be on the first pages; in fact, as a reporter, as a journalist, when I do my research online, I always go to page four or five to try and dig through all the curated stuff and try and get to something that's a little bit real. You know, not to say that the answers on page one aren't real, but it's super-curated. It's not the same as being curious and going, digging something up in a library. And so bearing in mind that we have this facility and we're expected to use it, and it's really, really useful, how can we prompt and provoke ourselves into the state of curiosity that in ages past was part of having to go to the library, or having to go ask people? You know, if we've retreated into this thing of just using a computer, then we need to provoke ourselves into curiosity, and we need to engineer our cross-pollination opportunities. And basically, we need to take a form and a structure of thinking, and that's what adventurous thinking is. It's a structure. So we have this concept. Thanks, Steve Jobs. We have this concept that people need to randomly meet. And of course that's the basis of open-planned offices. You know, and cool bathrooms, and like break hour areas, is that people will randomly meet, and they'll have collisions, and in those meetings and collisions, they'll come up with these great things. Although I'd argue that the reality is that most of us are really busy. (laughs) And if we actually collide into someone in the hallway, I don't think we're gonna necessarily go, "Just had this insanely cool idea. "We should workshop that for another 10 minutes." Right, so particularly if you're in a business or if you've siloed yourself by only hanging with certain types of people, or having one friend group, or hanging with your family, or doing things a certain way, we need to really engineer how we're gonna make this happen, how we're gonna have this meeting up. Do we have a coffee group? I have a coffee group with people that range from 80 to 24, crazy coffee group. Or do we engineer within our workplace or within our friend group, sit-down opportunities like, say, a drink and think at the pub after work, where people come together, and you throw an idea on the table, and then you're all just jammin' up for a little while? You know, because chance meetings aren't necessarily gonna give you what you need. We've gotta come up with the goods ourselves. And this, finally, is key. Nature is not necessarily logical. Buckminster Fullers is a bit of a genius. He's having a little rediscovery moment at the moment. And I love this one. If you look around at so much of nature, it's confounding. You know, it is at the basis, you know, a completely curious phenomenon, but we miss it, and what we try and do is have everything super straight-up, extremely straightforward, intuitive, and simple, because we're moving at such a fast pace that we don't have time to ask questions and figure things out. But that's actually squashing our own creativity into that side. Our expertise is taking over and getting rated so highly. From education onwards, we value the knowledge over the imagination, and that's gotta change with adventurous thinking. For the last part of this mindset is this: that we need to remember that in adventurous thinking, for that five minutes, for each lens, that we're looking for imagination and possibility. What you know doesn't matter. There's another time for that.