Curiosity is a corner-stone of my job, although you may not necessarily expect it. I’ve worked in analytics for over a decade, and increasingly talk to a range of groups about the importance of effective measurement as a key tool in improvement. When I do, the principle that gives rise to the most discussion is to ‘be a data detective’. Apart from using this as an excuse to get a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch on the screen, this means look deeper. Don’t limit yourself to what you see at first. Question everything.
Einstein, that paragon of science and wisdom, said he had no special talent just an insatiable curiosity.
We believe that being curious can lead to great things (and have lots of examples where it has!), but are aware that too much curiosity, in some organisations, not just kills cats but can lead to all manner of other problems. So in June you’ll be able to join our Curiosity Club.
Curiosity Club will convince you that curiosity is a thing to be celebrated and provide you with bountiful opportunities to improve your personal and working lives.
Even more important than that, Curiosity Club members will get to find out about practical things that we can all do to bring curiosity into our organisations to help make them more interesting, innovative and productive places to be…
We hope you come and join, or if you like to help design, get in touch.
I think of myself as quite a curious person (curious as in somebody who asks lots of questions, rather than being a bit odd!). I’m interested in lots of ‘stuff’ and have been privileged to be able to explore my varied interests very thoroughly; there is no such thing as a ‘quick’ visit to a museum, library or bookshop in the Cheema household.
This curiosity is not limited to my personal life; I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been encouraged to push my boundaries and explore new avenues in the world of work. I have a working knowledge of how to group ceasarean deliveries into clinically meaningful subgroups, understand the warning signs of sepsis and have explored the possibility of predicting required flow rate of ambulatory oxygen in COPD patients- not bad for a jobbing information analyst.
Reflecting on this a bit, it hasn’t always been the case. I guess everyone has had a job which crushes curiosity, either through its repetitive nature (flipping burgers at a well known fast food chain) or perhaps a lack of support, encouragement or interest (delayed transfers data collection and reporting in the early noughties). In these instances, I hadn’t stopped being curious elsewhere in my life, but I wasn’t curious about my work. It was just, well, work.
I was surprised to learn today that there is a separate, validated measurement instrument for workplace curiosity, as opposed to what we could term ‘general’ curiosity. The two do correlate, but there was a clear requirement in the minds of the team who developed it to think about curiosity as a desirable trait in the specific context of work.
Last time I mused on whether we are too busy to be curious; perhaps we can refine that slightly. Are we too busy to be curious at work? Does work, in the traditional sense, stifle our natural curiousity? And if so, what can we do to liberate it?
One of the great pleasures (in my humble opinion) in life is a long walk through green space.
This long Easter weekend I have indulged (twice!) in a lengthy stride out into the countryside, on one occasion accompanied by my younger son. He often comes out with me and he generally takes the opportunity to update me on his ongoing plans to build a sizable underground base (“villainous lair” his older brother opines) underneath a field to the north of the M23 Gatwick spur.
Having built (what I like to think as) the early part of my career on a foundation of hard quantitative evidence, statistical process control charts and the odd p-value, it may surprise you to hear me talk about the power of curiosity in effecting change and improvement in health care.
Yes, I, a numbers geek, a self-confessed spreadsheet jockey, actually sees curiosity as a key part in making sure these bits of data aren’t consigned to the black pit of despair known simply in the NHS analytics trade as ‘The Beast’. In fact without curiosity, it's pretty difficult to use that data to get to the next step in improvement…