Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly [NOOK Book]

Overview

"John Kay tells a fast-paced detective story as he searches for the surprising secret to success...Brilliant."
-Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life


In this revolutionary book, economist John Kay proves a notion that feels at once paradoxical and deeply commonsensical: the best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal, from happiness to preventing forest fires, is the indirect way. We can learn...
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Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly

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Overview

"John Kay tells a fast-paced detective story as he searches for the surprising secret to success...Brilliant."
-Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life


In this revolutionary book, economist John Kay proves a notion that feels at once paradoxical and deeply commonsensical: the best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal, from happiness to preventing forest fires, is the indirect way. We can learn how to achieve our objectives only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery-what Kay calls obliquity. The author traces this seemingly counterintuitive path to success as it manifests itself in nearly every aspect of life, including business, politics, sports, and more.


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101476390
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/14/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 643,225
  • File size: 700 KB

Meet the Author


John Kay is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford University. As the director, he established the Institute for Fiscal Studies as one of Britain's most respected think tanks.
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Table of Contents

Preface 1

Chapter 1 Obliquity-"Why Our Objectives Are Often Best Pursued Indirectly 5

Part 1 The Oblique World: How Obliquity Surrounds Us

Chapter 2 Fulfillment-How the Happiest People Do Not Pursue Happiness 17

Chapter 3 The Profit-Seeking Paradox-How the Most Profitable Companies Are Not the Most Profit Oriented 24

Chapter 4 The Art of the Deal-How the Wealthiest People Are Not the Most Materialistic 35

Chapter 5 Objectives, Goals and Actions-How the Means Help Us Discover the End 46

Chapter 6 The Ubiquity of Obliquity-How Obliquity Is Relevant to Many Aspects of Our Lives 53

Part 2 The Need for Obliquity: Why We Often Can't Solve Problems Directly

Chapter 7 Muddling Through-Why Oblique Approaches Succeed 67

Chapter 8 Pluralism-Why There Is Usually More Than One Answer to a Problem 77

Chapter 9 Interaction-Why the Outcome of What We Do Depends on How We Do It 90

Chapter 10 Complexity-How the World Is Too Complex for Directness to Be Direct 99

Chapter 11 Incompleteness-How We Rarely Know Enough About the Nature of Our Problems 109

Chapter 12 Abstraction-Why Models Are Imperfect Descriptions of Reality 116

Part 3 Coping with Obliquity: How to Solve Problems in a Complex World

Chapter 13 The Flickering Lamp of History-How We Mistakenly Infer Design from Outcome 129

Chapter 14 The Stockdale Paradox-How We Have Less Freedom of Choice Than We Think 739

Chapter 15 The Hedgehog and the Fox-How Good Decision Makers Recognize the Limits of Their Knowledge 144

Chapter 16 The Blind Watchmaker-How Adaptation Is Smarter Than We Are 153

Chapter 17 Bend it Like Beckham-How We Know More Than We Can Tell 158

Chapter 18 Order Without Design-How Complex Outcomes Are Achieved Without Knowledge of an Overall Purpose 165

Chapter 19 Very Well Then, I Contradict Myself-How It Is More Important to Be Right Than to Be Consistent 172

Chapter 20 Dodgy Dossiers-How Spurious Rationality Is Often Confused with Good Decision Making 179

Chapter 21 The Practice of Obliquity-The Advantages of Oblique Decision Making 187

Acknowledgments 197

Notes 199

Bibliography 209

Index 219

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