Using practical examples from the worlds of business, politics, science, sports, literature, even parenting, John Kay aims to prove a notion that feels at once paradoxical and commonsensical - The best way to achieve any complex or broadly defined goal - from happiness to wealth to profit to preventing forest fires - is the indirect way. As Kay points out, people rarely know enough about the intricacies of important problems to tackle them head-on. And the interactions with other people and the world at large mean that the path to everyone's goals - and sometimes the goals themselves - may change. It is possible to learn about objectives and how to achieve them only through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery - what Kay calls obliquity. Kay traces this pathway to satisfaction as it manifests itself in nearly every aspect of life. Kay offers a wealth of practical guidance for avoiding the traps laid by the direct approach to complex problems and also aims to show how to acknowledge limitations, redefine goals to fit every skills, open peoples' minds to new data and solutions, and otherwise live life with obliquity.