In 1975, musician Brian Eno and painter Peter Schmidt published a set of cards called Oblique Strategies which they used to overcome creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking. The cards have become legend. 

In 2010, John Kay published a book called Obliquity, which shows how in business, politics and many other areas of life, goals are often better achieved obliquely.

When I stumbled over these two publications, I realised that I was using oblique strategies in my leadership training and coaching. In leadership, useful approaches are highly contextual and occasional. Contextual, because what works in one context may inspire you in another, but you cannot copy-paste a recipe. Occasional, because you cannot know beforehand when a particular insight will be useful next. Therefore, generic knowledge on leadership can be useful if it invites you to reflect and build your own solution in your actual context. And it would be helpful if you can browse through various approaches in the search for serendipity, accepting that many of them do not speak to you right now, until you come across one which catches your attention, and lets you reflect in an unusual, but on this occasion very useful, way. 

The most powerful quality of a leader is their self-reflection.

Oblique Strategies for Leaders are 100 cards that invite you to think. They never give you a solution. They may give you a direction to search for your solution. They offer a dilemma, a role, or a perspective worth investing. Where these thoughts lead you, is up to you. In most cases, the easy answer is not a good answer. 

They will be available on this page by October 2019.


©2019 Bernhard Sterchi, Palladio Trusted Advisers AG