“Oblique Strategies” is a tool for fostering creativity and facilitating the resolution of problems. Developed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, it consists of a deck of cards bearing phrases meant to stimulate innovative thinking. These phrases are intentionally open-ended and encourage us to consider a problem from a fresh perspective or to approach it in a non-linear way
The prompts are general truths, aphorisms, or gnomics.
They do two things:
- Help us restate the problem.
- Give us an intermediary problem that has multiple right solutions.
One of Brian Eno’s prompts is “Build the edges first”. He’d be using it while working on a song. Imagine a song, or better yet, try to imagine the visual representations we associate with music. It could be bars, notes, or the frequency of the music.
Here’s a potentiat solution for the “edges” of a song.
You have just gave your working memory a new intermediary problem. Finding what the edges mean. Because there’s no right or wrong solution you can achieve the end results of problem-solving. The reward mechanism kicks in a shot of dopamine and you can get back to the original problem with an alternative path toward the solution + the improved mood.