Brian Eno famously developed a deck of cards to help himself to think freely under pressure. His insight was that when you’re in a stressful situation, or you’re working too hard, or you’ve run out of ideas for solving a problem, your patterns of thinking become rigid and constrained.  Each card contains one sentence designed to steer thinking in unexpected ways. He calls these Oblique Strategies and examples include Use an old idea, State the problem in words as clearly as possible, What would your closest friend do?, Try faking it! and Work at a different speed.

Hmm.  I wonder whether any testers ever get stressed about deadlines or requirements or build stability or the number of defects they’re seeing or the massive number of regressions that “easy and safe” one-line change caused or the number of permutations that new dialog with 20 check boxes is going to have or the number of questions they can always think of when they start to think about something, I mean really think about it and not just skim the surface like everybody else in the company does so that they never see that there’s going to be a problem until five minutes before deployment and and and …

No need to answer. You can get a random strategy online at and you can read the whole set at

And now relax.

(This post was inspired by a conversation with Rosie Sherry at a Software Testing Club meetup.)