Oblique Strategies

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It is always hard to tell your new colleagues that you are out of ideas or you don’t have a perfect solution for the given problem. Like many others , my day to day work consists of facing situations where I am not certain about the solution. After many attempts to come up with concrete solutions myself, I finally I decided to give oblique strategies a try, to think out of the box.

Although this is not a UX method itself, their ‘open to interpretation’ approach allows them to be used in all situations.

Short history 

Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a deck of printed cards, created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975. Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking. (Wikipedia)

The author Brian Eno says his first oblique strategy was to “Identify your mistakes as a hidden agenda “. However, a very similar concept used by his friend Peter Schmidt was, “Was it really a mistake? “. It is the sharing of notes which gave rise to the oblique strategy cards.

How to use the oblique strategies?

The principle is  simple : just follow the advice dictated by the cards . Sometimes it is an action to perform, an enigmatic quote, a creative principle. Sometimes it is really simple to understand and sometimes it is abstract and open to interpretation.

Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation. Some are specific to music composition; others are more general. Examples include:

  • Try faking it!
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Use an old idea.
  • Back up a few steps. What else could you have done?

More information at : 

http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies

Try few cards online : 

http://www.oblicard.com/

[Deniz is the Senior UX/UI Designer at SuperAwesome.]

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