The other day my 15 year old son and I walked into an office supply store. He was interested in buying iron-on transfer paper to make a customized t-shirt for a friend. I figured that the office store would have such an item; however I was not exactly sure what aisle we would find it on. Personally, I enjoy these types of treasure hunts; the opportunity to walk into a store to locate an item without the assistance of a store clerk. This gives me a ‘geeky’ chance to secretly determine if the store layout and way-finding has been properly designed to meet my needs as a consumer.
As you can imagine, my first and second attempts to find the correct aisle were slightly off base. I was not discouraged however because of two reasons. First, I came across an interesting product that I had not seen before allowing me to quickly study the new item. Secondly, I had now eliminated a portion of the store allowing me to narrow my focus. Meanwhile my son begins to show his impatience. He quickly asked, “Dad, can’t we please just ask somebody where it is? Do we really need to walk around until we find it?”
And there it is. Me, who will walk past multiple store assistants to find what I’m looking for vs. my son who has never known life without the search engine toolbar. He appeared as if he were looking for a way to recreate the search approach in physical time and space as he would on the web. I was driven by my compulsion of curiosity. He was driven by direct result.
In our high-tech world of instantaneous results, we sometimes forget that setting out on an exploration, no matter how big or small, can lead to interesting discoveries. For this reason I’m a big believer that curiosity is a key to creative problem solving. The ability to gather information, process it and begin to contemplate other scenarios and opportunities is significant to innovating a proper outcome.
In this situation, I was busy taking it all in and deducing and calculating my moves while my son was interested in ‘typing his needs into the store search engine’, i.e. store clerk, to obtain the quick answer. While there are certainly times when asking the right person a question is important, it is essential that we take time to navigate the hunt to seek our reward and fulfill our quest using our curiosity to lead us.