I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.”
― Michael Palin, Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years

As a young trainee with Arthur Andersen, more years ago than I’m going to willingly admit to, we had to investigate companies, analyse accounts and review reports. The most useful lesson drummed into me was don’t just critique what’s in front of you but ask ‘What’s missing? What would I expect to be there that isn’t? What isn’t being explained that should be?’ I remember being taken to task by my Manager when I told him that the client hadn’t given me the right information. He corrected me “No – you didn’t ask the right questions.” It’s stayed with me and, along with a natural curiosity, has proven to be a valuable lesson.

As the whole world (not just technology) seems increasingly to be subject to Moore’s Law (that processor speeds, or overall processing power for computers doubles every two years), relying on what we already know means missed opportunities and makes it all the more important to stay informed.

if you ask a question it makes you look stupid for 5 minutes – but if you don’t ask – you stay stupid for fifty years, so always ask questions in your life” ― Various

It pays to be curious. It can mean overcoming my embarrassment – as it did at a recent seminar on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency (picture below) – but it invariably leads to a new perspective. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology are exactly the sort of topics that require curiosity and a thorough look behind the hype and the headlines. They’re disruptive, they’re stimulating new thinking, they’re creating new business models and have the potential to transform the world as we know it.

The 50 year old Crypto-virgin asks a question at Business Cloud Magazine event “Cryptocurrency & Blockchain: What is it? What next? How do you become a crypto-millionaire?”

That’s not to say that critical thinking can be wholly replaced with childlike curiosity. A healthy balance reveals parallels with the past and qualifies risks, threats and opportunities. At the Cryptocurrency event advice from a speaker about Bitcoin struck a chord:

Start slowly and educate yourself. You should look at it like this: you’re walking into a room that’s pitch black, you’ve never been there, you don’t know anything. Walk slowly. If you hit your toe, you hit your toe, you don’t trip and fall and break your arm”.

Testing and learning with anything new – poking it with a stick – is an excellent approach. The temptation to either throw it out if it doesn’t work or to pile in completely on the back of an early success can lead to many perils. Change inevitably has an impact and there needs to be an awareness of unintended consequences as well as new opportunities.

I’m fascinated about the way co-working spaces, multi-tenanted offices and renting desks by the hour is changing the work environment. It’s a development that has been ‘bubbling’ for a few years – but there is a generation of science and technology businesses for whom this is the new normal. What will it mean long-term? I don’t know, but I want to find out.

I’m delighted to have been asked to attend the Greater Manchester Green Summit  organised by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. Again, I want to keep abreast of new developments as experts come together to discuss efforts to create a low-carbon economy.

Cryptocurrency, developments in business spaces and green will all have an impact on procurement and stimulate new thinking. It’s not clear how or when but learning about new developments, reflecting on parallels with the past stimulates me and the knowledge is never wasted. It gives me ideas and can also reveal weaknesses or risks in current approaches.

It is not the answer that enlightens but the question” – Eugene Ionesco