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Are you caught in a curly situation?

Updated: Feb 11

Have you ever found yourself facing a curly situation and feeling a little unsure as to what to do about it?


I reckon this is something most of us experience from time to time. It happens to me a lot.


In this edition of Curly, Calm and Curious I thought I’d talk a bit about curly situations and why we need to approach them differently.


A curly situation is one in which the majority of elements are new to us.


For example, new context, new challenge, new information, new skills needed etc. The more ‘new elements’ a situation has, the curlier it becomes. And, the less we can rely on what we know, the skills we have or the experiences we’ve accumulated to get us through.


A curly situation is also one in which the different elements seem ‘tangled’ together and it’s hard to distinguish where one issue ends and another one starts.


The Crisp-Curly Continuum

Curly situations need curly conversations.


As I explained in a previous video, problem-solving conversations tend to fall somewhere on a continuum.


At one end, we have Crisp Conversations.


These ‘A to B’ conversations are about the everyday challenges that need to be addressed in order to keep your business or organisation delivering products and services to its customers.


Crisp Conversations draw heavily on the knowledge and experience we already have. While they can still be challenging, the content for these conversations lives squarely in our comfort zone.


Because we draw on what we know and what we’ve done before, Crisp Conversations feel comfortable and straight forward. Consequently, they enable us to assess the situation relatively quickly and work out what to do.



At the other end of the continuum are Curly Conversations.


As their name suggests, Curly Conversations are less straight forward and more ‘round about’ than their crisp counterparts.


Curly Conversations require us to learn, generate new insights and explore what we know, from different perspectives. The answers that we need don’t exist in our heads, although we’d really like them to.