"Obliquity:" To get somewhere, go somewhere else first

Is the best strategy for success and indirect approach to goals? Offering some examples from history, economist John Kay explains "obliquity."

George W. Bush speaks mangled English rather than mangled French because James Wolfe captured Quebec in 1759 and made the British crown the dominant influence in Northern America. Eschewing obvious lines of attack, Wolfe's men scaled the precipitous Heights of Abraham and took the city from the unprepared defenders. There are many such episodes in military history. The Germans defeated the Maginot Line by going round it, while Japanese invaders bicycled through the Malayan jungle to capture Singapore, whose guns faced out to sea. Oblique approaches are most effective in difficult terrain, or where outcomes depend on interactions with other people. Obliquity is the idea that goals are often best achieved when pursued indirectly....

Obliquity is characteristic of systems that are complex, imperfectly understood, and change their nature as we engage with them.


Hat tip: Cognitive Edge

Wikipedia: complexity Merriam-Webster: tact