Tuesday, 21 December 2010

John Kay - Obliquity

In obliquity John Kay argues that most goals are achieved not by directly aiming to achieve them, but by aiming at something else.

“Obliquity describes the process of achieving complex objectives indirectly. In general, oblique approaches recognise that complex objectives tend to be imprecisely defined and contain many elements that are not necessarily or obviously compatible with each other (Kay, 2010, p. 4).

For example happiness is not achieved by trying to be happy, but by doing something that one enjoys for its own sake. Similarly, quoting the book “Built to Last”, Kay argues that the most profitable companies are not the most profitoriented ones, but the ones with a purpose.

Accordingly he argues against conscious design and for adoption to the complex environment and trial and error: “Adaptation is smarter than you are.” (Kay, 2010, p. 140).

“In obliquity we learn about the structure of a problem by the process of solving it. (…) Whenfaced with a task that daunts you, a project that you find difficult, begin by doing something” (Kay, 2010, p. 175).

Can't say I enjoyed the book very much, but it does look sleek and elegant.

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