By Claire Mahoney
From the time we can speak, we start asking questions: Why is the sky blue? How big is the ocean? Why do the leaves change colour? Being curious is encouraged and rewarded because it leads to a deeper understanding of the world, which helps us operate and survive better as humans.
Curiosity is part of our company culture and we use it for a lot of different reasons: to build better software, understand user needs and help solve complex industry challenges. Even as we grow as a company, we’re still asking the same questions: What does it look like underground? Can we harness the power of a volcano?
By being curious we’ve created multiple opportunities, solved a host of problems and had some enlightening conversations. Here’s how we apply curiosity in our business.
Curiosity for problem-solving
When we heard back in 2014 that some of our customers were having problems managing their model versions, which was hampering their decision-making and costing money at the operations stage, we saw an opportunity to help out and get curious.
We asked some key questions: How are you managing projects now? How are models shared currently? What other decisions depend on the data? What other problems is this causing?
It quickly became apparent that a basic file sharing and version control system was not the answer, as it was not the only problem. This was really an issue of collaboration and process control across teams and locations. So we developed Central, a model management platform to support peer-to-peer collaboration across projects, and ensure a clear audit trail of model versions and decisions.
We not only addressed the problem of version control, but the problem of being able to trust the currency and reliability of models, and the decisions that follow.
Curiosity for innovation
Curiosity isn’t just about generating huge ideas for new products, though, it’s also about making small changes to what we already have, and building on what we already know.
Our application specialists spend a lot of time testing the limits of our software. They put themselves in the shoes of the user, challenging how data can be used and uncovering small, but significant opportunities to improve.
Recently, we added a function in our 3D modelling software which helps users identify gaps in model meshes. Meshes are the triangular-patterned building blocks of a 3D model, and when meshes are constructed from complex data, ‘holes’ or ‘gaps’ can occur. By implementing a simple ‘show borders’ function, gaps can be found more quickly and easily.
Model complexity will never disappear, but we can provide more clarity for the people who interpret it.
Curiosity for communication
Models translate raw data into a visible image, then that image is interpreted for other purposes within the business. For example, insights from resource models might be used in operational planning, investor decision-making, or financial reporting. So when we asked our geologist users what one of the biggest challenges they had was; it was no surprise that communication ranked high on that list.
Part of the problem was trying to communicate technical data to non-technical people, and part of it was the non-technical people trying to access the data. Tackling those two problems is one of the reasons LF View was conceived.
LF View is a browser-based application that lets anyone view a 3D geological model created in Leapfrog Geo. For example, a Leapfrog Geo user can send their data to LF View with one-click, and invite anyone to view and collaborate. So a model could be used as an explanation tool during a board meeting, without the requirement of having to learn or use 3D modelling software.
More effective decisions can be made when all the operational and business stakeholders share a common view.
For us, these success stories prove how critical curiosity is in bringing great ideas and innovations into the world. And in most cases, that started with asking simple questions. What will your team ask next?