Strategies for people like me

This will probably be of interest to just the handful of people who sit near me at work, and very likely not even all of them. But anyway.

First, a bit of context.

Back in the 1970s, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt made a set of cards called Oblique Strategies. You can still buy a set from Eno's website.

They were intended to help creative people who found themselves stuck. When all creative thoughts had left you, you'd pull a card from the pack and see if its (sometimes very oblique) suggestion pointed you in a helpful direction.

The idea was to give your brain a bit of a kick, to get you out of your rut, to make you look at your work from a new angle. And thereby get it finished, or at least improved.

Sometimes, I need that sort of kick at work.

Sometimes your mind just dries up, or you stare at the same piece of work for hours and it all starts to get muddled. This has happened to me when I'm writing words or drawing storyboards or (helping to) edit video, or while attempting half a dozen other things.

I wondered one day: what if someone re-created Eno's Oblique Strategies just for people in my position - by which I mean, people writing for agile projects in government - what would those strategies look like? What would they say?

I decided to make some.

They are, it probably goes without saying, very alpha.

I just wrote down the first 50-or-so things I could think of, and turned them into lovely little cards courtesy of I've got a feeling they're not all terribly useful. Some of them feel too obvious. Perhaps they need to be a bit more oblique to be useful. Maybe there's no need for them - maybe Eno's original set would be a better investment.

I'm going to share my set with colleagues at GDS and get some feedback. Then perhaps put together a new list of things they could say, and make another batch.

UPDATE: More photos in this Flickr set.

Filed under: projects
(27th February 2014)