Complex Curiosity…

I spoke with lots of people last week. Nothing unusual in that I guess, but the vast majority were one-to-one discussions. It was just the way my calendar fell. No big meetings or big telephone calls or big anythings. Only a balance between remote and in person meetings. Local and international calls. Work and personal. Engaging and exciting. Disconcerting and bewildering.

It’s obvious really, but as a general rule I find it easier to interact with someone I know, or with someone I have similar experiences to. And these days it is so much easier to find out so much more about so many. The internet is replete with information about our careers, our companies and our challenges. I always try to look at company web sites, social media, and – if it is an internal call – through our internal data sources (organisation charts, internal web sites) before I connect with someone I don’t know. That having been said, it’s amazing how often ‘engaging and exciting’ comes from those I haven’t met, or those I hardly know anything about.

I also give myself a moment at the end of any meeting to consider how it went, how I felt? What did I learn and what I would do differently next time. What other questions would I ask? Sometimes this process is external – I seek feedback – and other times it is internal – I contemplate. But I always consider. It helps me close one discussion and open the next.

And yet every so often I have a discussion where something really hits me. Something really resonates. I know when this happens because I realise that I talk about the same topic through the majority of my calls. I will ask everyone I interact with about the same topic. No matter how hard I try not to. I sometimes wonder how much this helps (OK – confuses) people talk with. But I know it helps me. A lot. I talk out loud about this topic of interest. I ask and hear and see other responses. My thinking and understanding increases.

I spoke to an old colleague one morning. Someone who was a great personal help to me two years ago. We hadn’t spoken in ages. Time flies. It was great value. And great fun. We discussed a range of topics – by phone – I knew at the time it was energising for me. I couldn’t sit still. I had to get up and walk around the room. I am still thinking about what my friend said. It was complex and complicated. Literally.

If a situation is complicated; we need to seek clarity. If situation is complex, we need to remain curious

I went straight to google but couldn’t find the quote anywhere. I looked up complicated and complex. I certainly use the words interchangeably. But the message implies a difference

This helped. A complex problem tends to have many components; but complex has no implication of difficulty. Complicated – on the other hand – always implies a high level of difficulty. My interchange of these two adjectives is evidently wrong. But it was the behaviours that help in each situation that had the biggest impact on me.

Complicated drives a need for clarity. For an explanation. I can relate to this. But complex is different. And the insight that in complex situations we should remain curious was enlightening.

Curiosity is a desire to learn about a subject or about a situation. Curiosity is all about questions, ideas, options and possibilities. And remaining curious is as much about belief. Belief in people, in each other and in ourselves. Belief that solutions will always appear.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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