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Showing posts from March, 2024

Not Strictly for the Birds

  One of my chores takes me outside early in the morning and, if I time it right, I get to hear a charming chorus of birdsong from the trees in the gardens down our road, a relaxing layered soundscape of tuneful calls, chatter, and chirrupping. Interestingly, although I can tell from the number and variety of trills that there must be a large number of birds around, they are tricky to spot. I have found that by staring loosely at something, such as the silhouette of a tree's crown against the slowly brightening sky, I see more birds out of the corner of my eye than if I scan to look for them. The reason seems to be that my peripheral vision picks up movement against the wider background that direct inspection can miss. An optometrist I am not, but I do find myself staring at data a great deal, seeking relationships, patterns, or gaps. I idly wondered whether, if I filled my visual field with data, I might be able to exploit my peripheral vision in that quest. I have a wide monito

Oblique Strategies

In Obliquity , John Kay argues that success may be best achieved indirectly. When the goal is non-trivial, the environment unpredictable, and the system in which we are operating is complex, then top-down working, planned to completion, is fragile. He recommends that we instead proceed obliquely , taking small steps, making choices opportunistically, and accepting that we do not have all the information or all of the control we might feel we want. Kay presents numerous examples of people and organisations that have done well with the oblique approach and some that have suffered when their indirect strategy straightened up. That's not to say the direct approach can't work or that it is a mistake to apply it to some situations, just that the set of real-world scenarios where directness is a good first choice is pretty constrained. It doesn't take much imagination to see the strong parallel between obliquity and agile software development. Likewi