In 1975 Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt published a deck of cards entitled ‘Oblique Strategies’. Each card contains a blurb, phrase or word intended to help artists think about their work in different way and get out of creative jams. From Wikipedia, some examples include:

- “What to increase? What to reduce?”
- “Try faking it!”
- “Use an old idea”
- “Work at a different speed.”

I can imagine that these ideas, drawn randomly from a deck of cards, are useful for overcoming artistic roadblocks. But can I use them as a scientist? After mulling this over for awhile, I realized that there already exists a set of ‘Oblique Strategies’ for scientists — George Polya’s book ‘How to Solve it’. Polya lists a total of 67 ‘heuristics’, techniques used to solve problems. Examples include:

- “Analogy” (see here)
- “Do you know a related problem”
- “Draw a picture”
- “Symmetry”
- “The future mathematician”

Now I just need this made into a deck of cards…

Advertisements