If you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in another. This is the concept of 'obliquity': paradoxical as it sounds, many goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. The richest men and women are not the most materialistic; the happiest people are not necessarily those who focus on happiness, and the most profitable companies are not always the most profit-oriented as the recent financial crisis showed us.
Whether overcoming geographical obstacles, winning decisive battles or meeting sales targets, history shows that oblique approaches are the most successful, especially in difficult terrain. John Kay applies his provocative, universal theory to everything from international business to town planning and from football to managing forest fire.
John Kay is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and a fellow of St John's College, Oxford. As research director and director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies he established it as one of Britain's most respected think tanks. Since then he has been a professor at the London Business School and the University of Oxford, where he was the first director of the Said Business School. He is a regular columnist for the Financial Times and the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Markets (9781848296723) and The Long and the Short of It (9780954809324).