Strengthening the intellectual foundation for our profession of arms.

What’s in a name?

January 14th, 2016 by Grounded Curiosity

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Grounded Curiosity is not a grab at a new buzzword or idea, merely the practicalities of choosing a domain name and the musings that followed. Without wanting to be a Duffle Blog stereotype, here are those musing:

I was listening to a presentation by a returned Commanding Officer from Afghanistan. He described ‘professional curiosity’ as a quality he highly valued in his officers. Around this time I was also reading Emile Simpson’s War From the Ground Up – a book that epitomises why looking at warfare from the tactical level up to the strategic level is important. I had always used the term ‘bottom up’ but ‘ground up’ is far more eloquent and less subject to puns.

Curiosity. Curiosity embodies the notion of ‘something we do’ as professionals ‘without being told to’. It is the constant pursuit for professional mastery through scholarly activity, the exploration of ideas, and conversations with others while acknowledging the risk of paralysis by analysis. As practitioners, this curiosity can progress good ideas to practical implementation. For junior commanders, curiosity is the indiscernible start point on a cycle of thought, that over time, and with experience, leads to intrinsic thinking. I don’t believe training on ‘thinking’ or ‘curiosity’ are powerpoint presentations to add to the military curriculum, rather, they are part of the professional culture we should strive to embody in our officer corps. 

Grounded. The term grounded aligns with many concepts including land warfare, the lowest level of war at the tactical end (ground up) and also implies that ideas are nuanced with practical realities. Unworkable ideas have little individual consequence when discussed on paper by an academic, but for a practitioner, the consequences of ill-founded action can be immediate. Practitioners in the scholarly space can bridge the gap between a good idea on paper and implementation as a deliverable action. As practitioners, we’re not looking for the ‘next big idea’ for academic merit but to find out how we can strive to do better when called to serve our nation. Grounding good theoretical ideas with reality is vital as we learn from the past and grapple with the future. The catch is, we’ll only be able to ground those good ideas if we’re curious about them in the first place.

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