Thank you to Dave Snowden for his pointer to this John Kay post in a recent Cognitive Edge blog. It is a long read and I highly recommend making the time to read it.

Building on my recent post about the Gradient of Misinterpretation, we can be better off if we move indirectly towards a goal.

Many Paths to an Outcome

Here is my version of why obliquity can be good.

  • The first path taken is direct and leads us to our expected outcome of a box
  • The two middle paths lead to good and not-so-good outcomes, we are still looking for a box, and we find other things on the way that might be better
  • And the last path takes us under the mountain – sometimes other pathways are not so obvious

So how does this relate to the gradient of misinterpretation? It comes back to ambiguity, if we are a little ambiguous about what we want to achieve and how we describe it, then the pathways we take to understand it can take us to more interesting places.