Conscious curiosity is being fully aware and perceptive of the systems, processes, and mental models that we run into daily in every aspect of life. It’s asking questions about those; seeking to understand how they work, why they work, and if they work effectively. It is not settling for whether we see the forest or the trees; it is being mindful that the forest is comprised of trees, and the forest is part of a complex, organic ecosystem that will always provide something new for us to learn and understand.
Many people are familiar with the proverb "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Conscious curiosity allows you to step outside of this model. Instead of having a single tool, you understand the hammer is just one of the tools within the conceptual toolbox. The toolbox may contain any number of tools, and not all will meet every task's needs.
Keep these points about the conceptual toolbox in mind:
- May contain any number of tools.
- Not all tools will meet the needs of every task.
- Tools need to be re-evaluated.
- Tools will need to be removed when they are no longer practical.
- Just because a tool is available, doesn't mean it suits every need.
When creating solutions, it’s easy to go for a quick fix. Let’s say we have a bad process and merely select automation as the ultimate solution. We find there are pain points for the human aspects that could be done by a machine. Automate the task and there are no longer pain points, right?
While removing the pain points for a human, we also reduced—or even removed—visibility on process issues. If we simply automate a bad process, the process hasn’t improved. Pain points aren’t a sign to simply automate something, it’s a sign to look at the processes they arise from. It becomes even more important for us to technically evaluate existing processes and look at the data stories they create.
Always stay curious about your processes.