Oblique Strategies; dancing to different beat


Not that we’re obsessed with Radio 4 here, but a recent programme brought ‘Oblique Strategies’ to our attention, an intriguing deck of aphorisms designed to stimulate lateral thinking. You can imagine just how much we loved this idea at Maier. It’s almost like they were made for us.

Setting creativity free

This little black box of beguiling snippets (which we immediately purchased of course!) was created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt way back in the 70s – originally with the intention of helping artists, particularly musicians (David Bowie and Coldplay are both huge fans), break through creative blocks.

“Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method.” (Brian Eno)

Pick a card

Not that we work with teams who are easily panicked you understand, but Brian Eno’s words rang out to us nevertheless. We’re already pretty good at this thinking and working differently business, but when magic like this is on tap who are we to ignore it? In fact OS cards are already one of our most favourite things to use – we’re often in the midst of hugely important and deeply complex discussions about future directions, conflicting priorities and emotionally charged decisions all of which, as you, know can overwhelm even the most stoical and rational of minds.  And this is when we whip out a card, or having already handed them out, ask delegates to share their particular pearl of wisdom.

A new angle

They’re called ‘oblique’ for a reason – some of them can seem pretty left-field at first glance, but with a bit of encouragement ideas and solutions soon take on a whole new dimension. Such is the legend of these cards they’re now available as an app, so if your creative juices seem a little sluggish, help is only a few clicks away,but for now here’s a few OS thoughts to set you going;

  • Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
  • Give way to your worst impulses
  • Only one element of each kind

See where it takes you.