Here is an excerpt from 250words.com on seven ways to stay curious and dealing with mysteries in business, and then a book review on Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It by Ian Leslie.
Are business problems more like puzzles, or more like mysteries?
Puzzles have clear questions and definite answers. They represent gaps in knowledge, and we fill those gaps by gathering information. “How many users does my start-up need to acquire in order to break even?” Let’s do the math.
Mysteries are less concrete. They involve complex variables, like human behavior and global economics. In a mystery, the challenge is discerning information—not merely gathering it. We might not know the answer, or even the question. “How will my start-up acquire new users and do we need to raise more money?” Here, the math will only get us so far.
Most of us approach business problems as if they were puzzles, when they are actually mysteries. We treat them like SAT questions, where the question is clear and the potential solutions are easy to articulate. There are plenty of problems with definite answers, but the most pertinent business dilemmas are murkier than a standardized test. “How will the rise of speech recognition change retail?” “How will driverless cars affect consumer behavior?” “How will Google Glass impact social life?”
The worry, according to Ian Leslie, author of Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, is that “We live in a culture that is keener on puzzles than mysteries… A society or an organization that thinks only in terms of puzzles is one that is too focused on the goals it has set, rather than on the possibilities it can’t yet see.” To solve mysteries, and not just puzzles, we need to expand our thinking, and that starts with cultivating curiosity.
Luckily, Leslie offers “Seven Ways to Stay Curious.” I’ve curated the list, pulling a few quotes from each section.
Build The Database
Forage Like a Foxhog
Ask The Big Why
Be a Thinkerer
Question Your Teaspoons
Turn Puzzles Into Mysteries
See full article by 250words.com
Curious – Book Review
Curious – Description
“I have no special talents,” said Albert Einstein. “I am only passionately curious.”
Everyone is born curious. But only some retain the habits of exploring, learning, and discovering as they grow older. Those who do so tend to be smarter, more creative, and more successful. So why are many of us allowing our curiosity to wane?
In Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It, Ian Leslie makes a passionate case for the cultivation of our “desire to know.” Just when the rewards of curiosity have never been higher, it is misunderstood, undervalued, and increasingly monopolized by a cognitive elite. A “curiosity divide” is opening up.
This divide is being exacerbated by the way we use the Internet. Thanks to smartphones and tools such as Google and Wikipedia, we can answer almost any question instantly. But does this easy access to information guarantee the growth of curiosity? No—quite the opposite. Leslie argues that true curiosity the sustained quest for understanding that begets insight and innovation—is in fact at risk in a wired world.
Drawing on fascinating research from psychology, economics, education, and business, Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It looks at what feeds curiosity and what starves it, and finds surprising answers. Curiosity isn’t, as we’re encouraged to think, a gift that keeps on giving. It is a mental muscle that atrophies without regular exercise and a habit that parents, schools, and workplaces need to nurture.
Filled with inspiring stories, case studies, and practical advice, Curious will change the way you think about your own mental habits, and those of your family, friends, and colleagues.
Curious – Review
“If you weren’t the curious sort, you’d likely never even crack this book. But then you’d be missing out on a world of interesting science exploring just why humans find the urge to learn and know so utterly irresistible.”Library Journal
“With heavy implications for the future of education, the author makes a strong case for a more inquiry-based approach. Highly recommended for educators of all kinds. Leslie reaches to the true heart of education—turning students into 21st-century learners by bringing back that curiosity.”Kirkus Reviews
“A searching examination of information technology’s impact on the innovative potential of our culture.”
Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age
“With this enthralling manifesto on the power of curiosity, Ian Leslie has written a book that displays all the key characteristics of its subject matter: an inquisitive, open-minded, and ultimately deeply rewarding exploration of the human mind’s appetite for new ideas.”
David Dobbs, feature writer for National Geographic, Atlantic, Slate, and other major publications
“I would never have guessed that so slim a volume could so richly pique my curiosity about curiosity. Stuffed with facts, ideas, questions, quotes, musings, findings, puzzles, mysteries, and stories, this is a book—as Montaigne said of travel—with which to ‘rub and polish’ one’s brain. It’s the most delightful thing I’ve read about the mind in quite some time.”
Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University
“Ian Leslie argues that true curiosity is in decline. This book is a beautiful and fascinating tribute to one of mankind’s most important virtues.”
Maria Konnikova, author of the New York Times bestseller Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
“A beautiful and important exploration of the need to nurture, develop, and explore our curiosity even when we’ve long left our childhood behind. Ian Leslie reminds us of those essential life lessons that we tend to forget in our quest to be busy and productive: that sometimes, it’s ok to waste time; and often, the most productive mind ends up being the mind most open to indulging its most childish impulses.”
Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group
“David Ogilvy believed that the best advertising writers were marked out by ‘an insatiable curiosity about every subject under the sun.’ Nowadays, as Ian has spotted, the same high level of curiosity is a requirement for progress in more and more jobs in business and government. In this excellent book Ian Leslie explains why: the obvious ideas have mostly been done; what progress there is left now happens obliquely.”
Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking
“In this important and hugely enjoyable book, Ian Leslie shows why it’s more important than ever that we find new ways to cultivate curiosity—because our careers, our happiness, and our children’s flourishing all depend upon it. Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It is, appropriately enough, a deeply fascinating exploration of the human capacity for being deeply fascinated, as well as a practical guide for becoming more curious yourself.”
Daniel Willingham, author of Why Don’t Students Like School
“Curiosity—that elusive, mysterious state—seems always to slide away when writers attempt to dissect it. Ian Leslie not only offers a compelling analysis of how curiosity works, he tells us how to prompt it in our children, our employees, and ourselves. Both fascinating and eminently practical, Curious is a book to be relished.”
About the Author
Ian Leslie writes on psychology, social trends, and politics for publications in the UK and US, including Slate, The Economist, NPR, Bloomberg.com, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Times, Daily Telegraph, and Granta.