A Curious Mind
One of the most important mental attributes in the current tech climate is that of the curious mind. The world loves to ring praises to inventors, scientists and leaders that changed the world in a positive way and rightly so. If you study out the lives of many of these people though you will find one common thread amongst them – that of curiosity and the desire to want to dig deep into finding a solution. Something which should apply to us all in the tech space where solution-oriented thinking is supposed to be what we do on a daily basis.
You might believe you are a great problem solver because of your ability to code together or develop applications, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a curious mind. A curious mind digs deeper into understanding the problem in the first place and finds a way to innovate, drive improvement and not just solve the problem for now, but long term too. They find the gaps that no one else has thought about, problems that no one thought even existed or get to the real root of a problem in a way that fixes it permanently. It doesn’t also mean technical aspects either as a curious manager or entrepreneur can also find disruption and innovation in ways around process, people management and a variety of other areas. A curious mind makes our technology and lives better
How does one develop a curious mind? Not everyone might be born with the same ability to just figure things out? I believe though that a curious mind does not have to come naturally and can be easily developed over time if we have the right passion, are willing to understand the why and take the time to develop the right solution.
The Right Passion
If a person cannot have a curiosity in something that doesn’t interest them in some way. Often people struggle to find themselves innovative in their space because they just don’t have the right passion for it. That passion can either lie in the job itself which maybe doesn’t interest them or the industry which doesn’t appeal to them. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing and thinking out the most, what drives you and often that might lead you to help find that passion where you might be able to be more effective or have a greater curiosity towards.
Understand the Why
When faced with trying to solve any problem, it’s important to understand it clearly. A lot of easy solution can often be quickly identified when a problem first materialises, but that doesn’t make it the best or right solution long-term. Rather it’s important to focus on why the problem or need exists in the first place, its causes, why current solution or ideas have not adequately solved it and see where the gaps may lie. Oftentimes the best solution requires a different approach and thought process where a solution is not necessarily technical but cultural or societal and in solving a different problem entirely, will solve the one you are trying to face now.
While some of this though might revolve around gut feel or trial and error, what is most needed is data and getting the facts right. Try and gather as much data as possible and utilise what the data is telling you. That’s not to say that data is always accurate, especially if we are tracking the wrong thing but that’s also where we should start to question our data if it doesn’t provide any discernible solution. In a non-technical space its looking at the different metrics afforded to you or trying to actually speak to people to understand the problems more intimately rather than from a macro perspective – although both a macro and micro perspective are often needed.
Take the Time to Analyse
This last point is a tricky one, especially in a world where urgency and delivery drives a lot of what we do. We can’t afford to take weeks to think about an important issue that needs to be fixed in the next 10 minutes or where the first to market is more disruptive than the best to market. Sometimes we need to make these decisions and take these risks for now to solve that immediate need, but we should keep analysing the data, understand the root cause of what went wrong and perhaps looking for a better solution. Yes, you might not always have the time in your work environment to allow for this and that is also okay. Little bits of analysis now and then might lead to small tweaks that could eventually lead to a breakthrough somewhere along the line. There may not always be an immediate better solution for now, but in the lessons you’ve learnt in this scenario, could help you to better solve another problem, so it’s a skill and analysis effort that is seldom wasted.
I’m not saying in all this that we are all going to change the world in a big way. That is unrealistic and these big technological advances will still likely only be achieved by the few special individuals. However, in just developing a curious mindset, you will undoubtedly get better at what you do and perhaps find a purpose in life that drives you. And isn’t that still an outcome worth striving for?