1: On Design

The way that can be spoken is not the essential Way;
the name that can be chosen is not an essential name.

The nameless is the origin of ten thousand programs;
names are the source of the ten thousand programs.

To understand the subtleties, be truly objective;
to outline the requirements, be truly subjective.

These two come forth together, but are named differently.
Together they are called Design:
blackest of the black arts,
gateway to many mysteries.

2: On the Essential Natures of Things

All the world knows there is beauty;
therefore, there is also ugliness.
All the world knows there is competence;
therefore, there is also incompetence.

One and zero generate each other,
difficult and easy complement each other,
long and short are relative to each other,
high-level and low-level complete each other,
signal and noise fill the channel together,
head and tail follow in sequence
-- all these, their essential natures.

Therefore, the Consultant
takes action without force,
and speaks without voice.

The ten thousand programs --
he writes the code, but does not commission it;
he debugs the program, but does not rely on it;
he completes the project, but does not maintain it.

Well, it is only because he does not maintain it
that his code will live on forever.

3: On the Art of Management

When competent programmers are not promoted to management,
the developers will not be contentious.
When prized equipment is not scarce
the developers will not steal it.
When executive perks are not flaunted,
the developers will not be disgruntled.

Therefore, the Consultant's advice:
distract their attention and fill their bellies,
weaken their ambitions and improve their benefits.

In this way, you enable the developers
to remain objective and without preconception,
and keep office politics down to a dull roar.

By taking action without force,
all will proceed without disruption.

4: Aspects of the Way

The Way is like /dev/null --
though you use it, it can never be filled.
Such an abyss --
it is like the beginning of all programs.

The Way manages hazardous conditions,
untangles spaghetti code,
harmonizes the user interface,
integrates the applications.

Cavernously deep,
it seems to go on forever.
I do not know whose child it is;
it seems to be the ancestor of the gods.

5: The Way of Heaven and Earth

The Market is ruthless:
ten thousand programs struggle for market share.
The Consultant is ruthless:
his loyalty to his clients is purely mercenary.

The Market, with its ups and downs,
acts much like a bellows.
Although it generates nothing, it is inexhaustible --
the more it moves, the more it blows.

Researching, analyzing, day trading --
this is not as good as holding to the center.

6: Somewhere Around Palo Alto

The spirit of the Valley never dies --
it is called the Creative Spirit.
The gateway of the Creative Spirit
is the foundation of the Market.

Abstract and delicate, it hardly seems plausible,
yet in practice, its productivity is inexhaustible.

7: The Undead Hand

The Market may crash, but it never dies.
The reason why the Market persists
is that it does not live for its own sake;
that is why it cannot die.

Therefore, the Consultant
does not set out to innovate, yet finds himself on the cutting edge;
does not found his own company, yet finds his consultancy thriving.
Does he have no interests of his own?
Perhaps this is why his interests thrive.

8: Principles of Least Action

The highest mastery is like water:
water benefits all,
yet always seeks the low points, despised by the masses;
thus it is like the Way.

In real estate, location is everything.
In understanding, depth is everything.
In negotiation, diplomacy is everything.
In speaking, credibility is everything.
In management, order is everything.
In consulting, effectiveness is everything.
In taking action, timing is everything.

If there is no contention, there will be no blame.

9: On Avoiding Calamity

In filling a cup, it is best to stop short of the rim.
An oversharpened edge will quickly blunt.
A house full of treasure cannot be secured.
Let wealth and power go to your head, and you will reap disaster.

Complete the project and move on: this is the Way of Heaven.

10: The Mirror of the Consultant

Cultivating mind and body as one -- can you stay undivided?
Focusing effort and achieving flexibility -- can you become childlike?
Polishing subtle code -- can you ensure no bugs remain?

Working with the developers and writing code, can you avoid cleverness?
Amidst acquisitions and reorganizations, can you remain creative?
When you grok the entire system, do you mistake your knowledge for wisdom?

Begin the project, develop it;
build the team though you do not manage it;
bring the product to market, though you do not control it:
this is called Subtle Virtue.

11: The Empty Disk

Thirty spokes join at a single hub;
its use depends on the hole in the center.
Clay is formed into a pot;
its use depends on the hole in the center.
Doors and windows make a building;
its use depends on the hole in the center.

Thus, though something may have value,
it is the nothing that makes it useful.

12: On Time Management

Computer graphics distract the eye.
Downloading music distracts the ear.
Browsing the web disturbs one's taste.
Video games obsess the mind.
Ordering online disrupts one's judgement.

Therefore, the Consultant
cultivates his intuition, instead of distracting himself:
by avoiding the one, he chooses the other.

13: On the Origins of Fear

A windfall is as great a cause for concern as a disaster;
value your greatest fears as you do your life.

What does this mean?
When the bug fixes itself:
what is origin of this windfall --
where did it come from,
and when will it leave?
Your greatest fears:
their origin is that you have a life --
if you have no life,
what need for fear?

Therefore, he who puts his life before his job
can be trusted with his job;
he who puts his life before the world
can be trusted with the world.

14: Grasping the Thread

That which you look for, but cannot see: the Formless.
That which you listen for, but cannot hear: the Silent.
That which you grasp for, but cannot hold: the Intangible.

These three, the incalculable, are one and inseparable:
its surface does not shine; its depths are not shadowed;
deeply unfathomable, nameless, returning back to nothing.

This is the Form without form, the image of Nothing.
This is the Featureless, the Empty.
Those who pursue it will never see its back;
Those who address it will never see its face.

But those who hold to the ancient Way
grasp the thread of the modern world;
and those who grasp the ancient beginnings
hold the thread of the Way.

15: On the Writing and Learning of Technical Works

(or: How to Read Knuth)

The ancient masters are deep and obscure, subtle and comprehensive.
Well, if they are deep beyond comprehension, I can still describe them:
Careful as if crossing thin ice.
Alert as if surrounded by rivals.
Courteous as a guest.
Yielding as melting ice.
Simple as an uncarved block.
Opaque as muddy water.

When the water is stilled, it gradually becomes clear;
when the sleeper is moved, he gradually awakens.

Who holds to the Way does not seek completion:
it is only because he is incomplete
that he can grow.

16: On Debugging and Memory Management

Attain emptiness; maintain equilibrium.

Ten thousand functions are called; I only watch them return.
Objects proliferate; each returns its resources to the root.
Returning resources is necessary to maintain equilibrium;
maintaining equilibrium is mandatory
for the essential functions of the system to run continuously.

Implementing essential functions requires insight;
failure of essential functions will cause an error.
Errors in the essential functions of the system will cause disaster!

If the essential functions can run continuously, they can be integrated;
once integrated, the system is functional.
A functional system can be delivered;
delivery is the Way.

Follow the Way, and your works will live on
long after you are hit by a bus.

17: More on the Art of Management

With the best managers, the developers hardly know they are managers.
Next best, are managers who are admired and loved.
Below that, are managers who are feared.
The worst are ridiculed and despised.

When you do not trust your people,
your people will not trust you.
Be vigilant -- choose your words carefully.

The project is completed
and the developers say:
"We did it ourselves!"

18: Some Tendencies of Large Organizations

When the Great Way is abandoned,
there will be fixed hours and codes of conduct.
When development methodologies and theories of management abound,
there will be a great deal of lip service.
When the official organization chart is in confusion,
the unofficial organization holds the projects together.
When the company and its projects are in confusion,
they call for the Consultant.

19: Yet More on the Art of Management

Abandon theories of management and development methodologies,
and the developers will benefit a hundredfold.
Abandon fixed hours and codes of conduct,
and enthusiasm for the project will take hold.
Abandon efforts to screw over your people,
and they will not desire to screw the company.

These three are examples of an underlying principle:
look to the basics, and keep it simple;
limit your greed, and beware diminishing returns!

20: The Life of a Consultant

I should quit the business, and end my troubles.

What difference whether I say yes or no?
What difference whether my code is good or bad?
Others fear comparison with my efforts;
thus I cannot avoid fear of their efforts.
Such bullshit! Will it never end?

Others are happy with the project
as at a free buffet or an open bar.
I alone am unmoved, affectless
as an infant too new to smile.
How boring! Is there no escape?

Others have job security;
I live from contract to contract.
I feel like an idiot! I'm so screwed!

Others seem so bright and certain;
only I am uncertain.
Others walk the cutting edge;
only I seem to be getting obsolete.
How featureless, like an ocean!
How empty, like the endless wind!

Others learn Ruby or PHP;
only I remain unspecialized, like an undergraduate.
I alone am different from all others --
sitting here complaining like a Whiny Ass Titty Baby!

21: The Virtue of the Empty Page

True Virtue follows only the Way.
What is the Way? It is the Featureless, the Empty.

Amidst the Empty, the Featureless,
ten thousand features sleep.
Amidst the Featureless, the Empty,
ten thousand entities await.
Amidst shadows and obscurity,
lurks the seed of true potential.

From the modern back to the ancient days,
that which we name Design has been since the beginning.
How do I know this?
by its very nature, it is so.

22: On Advertising and Integrity

Bend to remain whole;
warp to remain true.
The empty becomes filled;
everything old becomes new again.
The small will gain;
the great will become confused.

Therefore, the Consultant holds to integrity,
and lets the world follow him.

He does not promote himself, therefore he stands out.
He does not show off, therefore he looks good.
He does not brag, therefore he finds success.
He is not proud, therefore he can endure.

Well, it is only because he does not compete,
that nobody can compete with him.

The old saying, of the oak and the reed, comes close:
bend to the storm, remain unbroken, and return.

23: On Presentation

Speaking without voice:
the problems with grandstanding are self-evident.
A tempest is brief; a deluge does not endure:
if Nature cannot sustain a storm, how can you?

To complete the task:
follow the Way and you will gain credibility;
pursue Virtue and you will be effective;
lose them, and you are lost.

Pursue Virtue, and find the Way;
abandon Virtue, and lose it.

24: On Self-Promotion

Standing tiptoe is an unstable posture:
Promote yourself, and you will not stand out.
Showing off just looks bad.
Bragging does not promote success.
Pride goes before a fall.

In view of the Way,
all these are indulgent and unnecessary;
even those who indulge in these things
cannot stand them in others.

25: On the Origins of Heaven and Earth

Something was born of chaos, before the Net.
Silent and empty,
solitary and eternal,
pervasive and unceasing,
it might be the mother of the Net.

I do not know its name,
though some call it the Way.
If I must choose a name,
I would call it the Great:
to be great is to be connected;
to have connectivity is to be far-reaching;
that which reaches far returns to its beginning.

The Way is great;
the Net is great;
the Market is great;
the CEO is great.
In this world there are four Greats,
and the CEO is one of them.

The people follow the Market;
the Market follows the Net;
the Net follows the Way;
the Way follows only itself.

26: On Security

The heavy is the root of the light;
equilibrium wins out over agitation.

Therefore, the Consultant, in his travels
does not check his laptop, but keeps it by his side.
Even when he gets to the hotel
he will still take reasonable precautions.
Why should the master of ten thousand programs
risk exposing his data to the world?

Take security lightly,
and you will lose root;
let them see you sweat,
and you will lose your credibility.

27: Elements of Conduct and Design

A good hacker leaves no trace of his activities.
A good speaker has no gaps in his preparation.
A good coder is not dependent on his analysis tools.

Good security is inverse to points of entry,
and resists compromise even in the presence of holes.
Good design is inverse to complexity,
and resists compromise even in the presence of fools.

Therefore, the Consultant
is good at helping his clients,
and does not abandon them.
As for their code,
he retains what is salvageable,
and avoids duplicating effort.
This is called Basic Professionalism.

Thus, the able man
will teach the competent,
and take the incompetent in hand.
Those who fail to teach, fail to learn,
or fail to use their resources effectively,
no matter how brilliant, are on the wrong track.
This is called Basic Effectiveness.

28: Images of Virtue

(or: Yes, It's Pornographic)

Know the Male but hold to the Female:
be the Canyon of the world.
As Canyon of the world,
true Virtue runs through you,
and true Virtue always returns
to the childlike.

Know the Pure but hold to the Impure:
be the Valley of the world.
As Valley of the world,
true Virtue grows in you,
and true Virtue always returns
to the uncarved block.

Know the White but hold to the Black:
be the Pattern of the world.
As Pattern of the world,
true Virtue follows you,
and true Virtue always returns
to the endless.

When the block is carved,
it becomes a tool;
when the Consultant is hired,
he becomes a project lead.
Remember, though: the greatest woodcarver
works with the material, not against it,
and need not split the block to begin with.

29: On Dealing with Open Source

(or: What do you Want to Do Tonight?)

If someone tries to take over the world,
I predict that they will not succeed.
The world is like an Open Source project:
not something that can be seized and taken.
Take action with force, and suffer defeat;
seize with force, and grasp nothing.

The ten thousand programs:
some gain market share, some lose it;
some are hot, some are not;
some rise to the top, some fall into obscurity.

Therefore, the Consultant
avoids the overengineered,
disregards the marketing,
disbelieves the hype.

30: On Executive Strategy

The CEO who is guided by the Way
does not engage in hostile takeovers;
such business tends to turn on you.
Where proxy battles are fought,
shareholders will grow bitterness and regret.
Where profits were projected,
lean years will follow.

The able executive runs a successful company;
victory over the competition is not the point.
He succeeds and does not let it go to his head.
He succeeds without arrogance or contempt.
He succeeds without boasting of victory to come.
He succeeds, and engages in active conflict only as a last resort.
He succeeds by taking action without force,
and gains long-term profits for his shareholders.

When a company is run by a pack of frat boys,
it has left the Way.
Such a company is old before its time,
and will fail sooner rather than later.

31: On Corporate Warfare

Lobbyists are tools of ill repute.
They are so generally despised
that even those who use them cannot defend the practice.

In his personal beliefs, the educated man
may esteem the left,
yet, when he seeks legislation to profit his company,
he will esteem the right.
thus, the lobbyist is the tool of the hypocrite.

The legal system is a blunt instrument.
When there is no alternative, use it --
but calmly and deliberately is best.
Do not glorify the contest:
this is the realm of coercion,
and flaunting the use of force
will not win you friends or customers.

In creative work, the left brain is dominant;
in linear thought, the right brain is dominant.
Productive development is a creative process;
testimony is a linear process.
Thus, legal and legislative conflict
is the death of productivity.

No matter who wins the conflict,
the company has lost money and effort
that could otherwise have been spent on something useful.
Win the war,
and treat victory as a tragedy.

32: On Open Source as the Uncarved Block

The Way is truly nameless.

Although the uncarved block may be small,
the world dare not treat it as inferior.
If managers and CEO's could hold to the Way,
all things would bow to them of their own accord,
manna would fall from heaven,
and the developers would coordinate the project themselves.

When the project is conceived, development has already begun.
Once development has begun, at some point it must end.
Know when to release: thus you may avoid danger.

The world is to the Way
as ten thousand streams to the sea.

33: On Essential Virtues

To know others requires cleverness;
to know yourself is insight.
To overcome others requires force;
to overcome yourself is true strength.

Know when you have enough:
that is true wealth.
Act from true strength:
this leads to true purpose.
Stand on your core competence:
then you can truly endure.
Leave works that will be remembered:
that is true immortality.

34: On the Nature of Success

The Way is like a great river:
when the flood turns, nobody can stop it.

The project is finished,
the program is released,
but the Way has no name to credit.

The ten thousand programs return to the Way,
but it does not control them:
thus, it can be called the Small,
but it can also be called the Great.

This is how the Consultant
can accomplish great things:
because he does not try to make himself great,
greatness can follow him.

35: On Activism

Grasp the great Form,
and the world will follow.
Well, if following does no harm,
then peace and security will prevail.

A nightclub attracts people with loud music and booze,
but they say the Way is has no qualities or flavor of its own:
look for it, and there are are no lights;
listen to it, and there is no music;
use it, and there is no end.

36: More on Executive Strategy

What you would cut off,
should first be stretched out.
What you would weaken,
should first be supported.
What you would isolate,
should first be encouraged.
What you would seize,
should first be invested in.

This is called Subtle Insight:
the soft and weak defeats the hard and strong;
and, just as fish should not leave the water,
the executive should not expose his sharpest weapons.

37: On the Coherence of Open Source

The Way is always nameless.
But, if managers and executives can hold to it,
the ten thousand programs will develop by themselves.
Once developed, any desire to depart this path
will be subdued by the nameless -- the uncarved block.
Once subdued by the uncarved block,
they will regain objectivity.
Regaining objectivity,
they return to equilibrium,
and the world returns itself to order.

38: On Virtue and Piety

Higher Virtue has no force;
this is its strength.
Common virtue does not relinquish force;
this is its weakness.

Higher Virtue speaks without voice, without self-interest.
Compassion speaks out, in the interest of others.
Righteousness speaks loudly, out of self-interest.
Piety speaks loudly, then when when nobody pays any attention,
rolls up its sleeves and uses force.

when the Way is lost, there is still Virtue;
when Virtue is lost, there is still compassion;
when compassion is lost, there is righteousness;
when righteousness is lost, there is piety.

Public piety about faith and loyalty
is the dead husk of honor and good faith;
the flowering of piety marks the beginning of disorder.
Such foresight is a flower of the Way;
though to focus on foresight is the beginning of folly.

The great man
values the substance, not the husk;
values the fruit, not the flower:
by avoiding the one, he chooses the other.

39: On Failures of Unity

(or: Why Maintain Integrity?)

From ancient days, those which found unity:
the Market found unity, and became efficient;
the computers found unity, and became operational;
the Valley found unity, and became full;
the Net found unity, and became transparent;
the corporations found unity, and developed ten thousand programs.

On the other hand:
when the Market is inefficient, it becomes systematic theft;
when the computers fail to operate, everything grinds to a halt;
if the Valley is abandoned, nobody will bother to return;
if the Net loses its transparency, it will be a tool for extortion;
if the corporations cease their R&D, they will lose their position.

Just as the high-level rests on a foundation of the low-level,
great wealth and power have their root in the labor of the lowly.
When powerful politicians denigrate their intellect,
affect a folksy demeanor, attempt the "common touch":
they pursue their power through its roots in the base.

The greatest notoriety is no notoriety.
You need not choose the spotlight,
nor echo like loudspeakers.

40: On the Ancestry of Invention

To return is the movement of the Way;
to yield is the operation of the Way.

The ten thousand things are born of necessity;
necessity is born of emptiness.

41: On the Perversity of Appearances

When the wise man hears the Way,
he tries to practice it.
When the mediocre man hears the Way,
it is hit and miss.
When the fool hears the Way,
he laughs at it.
Well, if he did not laugh,
it would be something less than the Way.

Therefore, it is said:
The bright Way seems obscure.
The Way forwards seems backwards.
The smooth Way seems rough.
High virtue seems like a deep chasm.

Great purity seems impure.
Broad virtue seems indiscriminate.
Solid virtue seems doubtful.
The truly original seems derivative.

The great System has no portals.
The great Project is finished last.
The great Sound is without voice.
The great Form is without form.

The Way may be inarticulate and nameless,
but only the Way is as useful for the beginning as it is for the end.

42: A Brief Summary

The Way gave birth to Unity:
zero and one generate binary,
and binary is sufficient
to run the ten thousand programs.

Today, the ten thousand programs
are the medium of the creative,
and the instruments of control.
Together, they have the potential
to create harmony.

The world hates the orphaned, the abandoned, and the obscure,
yet sometimes these things may rise to dominate the market.

Sometimes, less is more.
Sometimes, worse is better.

Having learned, one may teach;
the father of my teaching might be:
"He who lives by force will meet an unnatural end"

43: On Soft Power

Flowing water grinds hard stone to dust;
insubstantial air penetrates the seamless wall:
these show the virtue of taking action without force.

Speaking without voice,
taking action without force:
few can approach these.

44: On Diversification

Your reputation or your life:
which is closer to your heart?
Your life or your money:
which is worth more?
Growth or cutbacks:
which is more disruptive?

Where you place deep attachment,
there you will spend most deeply;
where you have heavy investments,
there you will take heavy losses.

to avoid disgrace, know when to be content;
to mitigate risk, know where to stop:
these make lasting endurance possible.

45: On the Free Software Foundation

Great quality may seem defective,
but use does not wear it out.
Great fullness may seem empty,
but use does not exhaust it.

Great truth may seem warped.
Great skill may seem clumsy.
Great wealth may appear mediocre.
Great eloquence may sound inarticulate.

Agitation fights the cold,
but stillness overcomes the heat:
purity and equilibrium can change the world.

46: On Software Patents

When the world follows the Way,
algorithms are published in the journals.
When the world does not follow the Way,
patent portfolios are built up in self-defense.

There is no misfortune like avarice:
no evil greater than unchecked greed;
no disaster more tragic than the inability to be satisfied.

Even minimal understanding
of when to be satisfied
is sufficient.

47: On Telecommuting

(or: The Consultant Doesn't Get Out Much)

Without leaving your door,
know the world.
Without looking out the window
know the Way of Heaven.
The farther you go,
the less you know.

Therefore the Consultant
can elicit the requirements without travelling,
can write the code without setting eyes on the client,
can complete the project with a minimum of hassle.

48: On Theory and Practice

He who studies, accumulates every day.
He who follows the Way, diminishes every day.

Diminish, and diminish again,
until you achieve action without force.
Take action without force,
and there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.

If you would change the world,
genuinely relinquish your self-interest:
by clinging to your self-interest,
you become insufficient to change the world.

49: On Customer Relations

The Consultant has no heart:
he takes the heart of his clients as his own.

The competent, he treats as competent;
the incompetent, he also treats as competent
-- this is a virtue of his competence.
The credible, he treats as credible;
the incredible, he also treats as credible
-- this lends virtue to his credibility.

The Consultant is synthesist to the world:
all its confused demands, he keeps in mind.
The clients fix eyes and ears on the Consultant,
and he tells them their requirements.

50: On the Death March

From life, into death.

The signs of a successful project are well-known.
The signs of a failing project are well-known.
The signs of a death march are also well-known.
Why do organizations pursue the death march?
Because they live only for success.

Of he who holds his life effectively, it is said:
when he travels the wilds, he need not avoid buffalos and tigers;
when he enters the battleground, he needs neither armor nor weapons.
The buffalo finds no place for its horns;
the tiger finds no place for its claws;
the weapon finds no place for its blade.
Why is this so?
Because there is no place in him for death.

51: On Projects

The Way gives life;
Virtue supports it.
Programs take form;
their usefulness completes them.

the ten thousand programs honor the Way,
and respect Virtue.
Honoring the Way, respecting Virtue:
nothing compels this;
by its very nature, it is so.

The Way, and the Virtue of the project:
together, they
generate and support it,
develop and maintain it,
protect and defend it,
host and secure it.

Creating without possessing,
taking action without demanding credit,
completing without controlling:
this is called Subtle Virtue.

52: On Administering a System

The System had a beginning: the mother of the System.
To know the mother is to know her children.
Know the children, return to guard the mother,
and thereby avoid danger.

Shut the portals, close the gateways,
and thereby preserve your resources.
Open the portals, multiply the services,
and you will exhaust your resources.

To perceive the low-level is true insight;
to maintain the simple is true strength.
You may use the GUI tools, but return to insight:
thereby you may avoid disaster.
This is how to support reliable service.

53: On the Origins of the State

If you have enough sense, in following the Way,
the only fear is wandering off it.
The Way is smooth and straight,
but somehow, people prefer the mountain trails.

The court is swept clean,
but the fields are full of weeds,
and the granaries are empty.

Their costumes are fancy and colorful,
their weapons are deadly,
they glut themselves on food,
they have more things than they know what to do with.

This is called robbery,
and robbery is not the Way.

54: On the Propagation of Virtue

What has been well planted will not be uprooted.
What has been well embraced will not escape.
The line of maintainers to support the system will not be interrupted.

Cultivate yourself, and your virtue will be authentic.
Cultivate your project, and its virtue will abound.
Cultivate your company, and its virtue will endure.
Cultivate your state, and its virtue will grow.
Cultivate the world, and virtue will be pervasive.

Evaluate others by yourself.
Evaluate projects by your project.
Evaluate companies by your company.
Evaluate states by your state.
Evaluate the world by the world.

How do I know this of the world?
by its very nature, it is so.

55: On the Virtue of the Child

One who is fully virtuous is like an infant:
wasps and scorpions, vipers and snakes will not sting him;
birds and beasts will not carry him off;
his bones and sinews are soft and weak, yet his grip is firm.
He knows nothing of sex, yet his penis is erect:
this is the height of potency.
He can scream all day without getting hoarse:
this is the height of harmony.

To know harmony is eternal:
to know the eternal is true insight.
To grasp after life is unlucky:
if your will directs your energy,
this is called "forcing".
Such a thing will be old before its time:
this is not the Way, and consequently
it will fail sooner rather than later.

56: Signs and Applications

He who knows does not speak.
He who speaks does not know.

Shut the portals,
close the gateways;
harmonize the user interface,
integrate the applications;
manage hazardous conditions,
untangle spaghetti code:
this is Subtle Unity.

In this way, that which can be
neither courted nor avoided,
neither benefitted nor harmed,
neither uplifted nor degraded,
is valuable in the real world.

57: Yet More on Executive Strategy

Run the company straightforwardly.
Meet conflict with indirection and cunning.
Change the world by relinquishing self-interest.

How do I know this? Well:
When there are many rules and prohibitions,
the developers will become rebellious.
When enforcement is arbitrary and capricious,
the company will start to fall apart.
When management institutes clever motivational policies,
there will be perverse consequences.
When threatening memos are common,
there will be widespread mockery.

Therefore, the Consultant says:
Take action without force,
and the employees change by themselves.
Love equilibrium,
and the developers order themselves.
Relinquish self-interest,
and the projects prosper by themselves.
Become objective,
and let the company return to simplicity itself.

58: On Riding the Wave

(or: Sliding Down the Cutting Edge)

When the company is run without overt control,
the employees will be happy and reasonably honest.
When regulations are heavy and enforcement is strict,
the employees will be rebellious and necessarily dishonest.

Good luck depends on bad luck,
bad luck lurks within good luck,
and where does it all end?
It seems there is no good place to stand:
the correct becomes strange,
and the auspicious becomes ill-omened.
All this change and confusion:
their days have been long,
and may be longer yet.

be blunt but do no harm,
be sharp but do not cut,
be honest but do not offend,
be brilliant but do not dazzle.

59: On the Virtue of Least Action

To run a company,
to compete in the Market,
there is nothing like economy.

The economical path returns early to the Way:
thus, it is doubly virtuous.
With this virtue, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished:
none can foresee your limitations.
If none can foresee your limitations,
you might well start a company;
if you grasp the creative foundations of the company,
you and your company might well make it.

Being deep-rooted and firmly based:
this is the Way of long life and persistent vision.

60: On Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Running a large organization
is like cooking a small fish:
it is easy to overdo.

When the Way is used in dealing with the world,
FUD will not have any influence.
Well, it is not that FUD will have no influence:
FUD will not be used to mislead people.
Well, it is not that FUD will not be used to mislead people:
the Consultant will not mislead people.

Well, when the Consultant and his client do not mislead each other,
virtue accrues to both of them.

61: On Mergers and Acquisitions

(or: How to Get Screwed by Microsoft)

A large company is like low-lying waters:
the feminine reservoir of the world,
the creative confluence of the world.
The female overcomes the male through equilibrium:
in proper equilibrium, the female lies under the male.

Therefore, if a large company lies beneath a small company,
it can take over the small company at will.
Conversely, if a small company lies beneath a large company,
it becomes a target for acquisition.
Thus, one lies underneath and takes the other,
while the other lies underneath and is taken.

A large company wants to grow and diversify,
while a small company wants resources for its projects
and security for its people.
Well, and if they are both satisfied,
then the large company might as well lie underneath.

62: On Specialization

The Way is the confluence of ten thousand things:
it is valuable to the competent,
and guardian to the incompetent.

Fine words are essential for marketing.
Classy suits are essential for negotiation.
But, those who are incompetent at these things:
why should they be eliminated?

When a new management team is installed:
rather than issuing them a corner office
and a reserved parking space,
better to show them the Way.

The Way is as true now as in ancient days:
those who seek may find,
and those who fail may redeem themselves.
Thus, it is valuable to the world.

63: On Problem Solving

Take action without force.
Pursue your interests without self-interest.
Keep the Way in mind.

Handle the small like the great.
Handle the few like the many.
Handle anger with Virtue.

Handle the difficult by addressing the easy;
handle the great by addressing the small:
in this world, the difficult is born of the easy,
and the great is born of the small.

Therefore, the Consultant
does not take great action:
that way, he can accomplish great things.

He who makes agreements lightly is unreliable.
He who thinks everything is easy will find many difficulties.

Therefore, the Consultant
thinks everything is difficult:
that way, he finds no difficulties.

64: On Strategy, In General

What does not struggle is easy to hold.
What has not yet shown warning signs is easy to plan for.
What is fragile is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.
Take action before problems occur;
cultivate order before disorder blossoms.

A great oak grows from a small acorn.
A great fortress rises from a scoop of earth.
A thousand mile journey starts with a single step.

Take action with force, and you may be defeated;
grasp after something, and you may lose it.
Therefore, the Consultant
takes action without force, and suffers no defeat;
is not grasping, and suffers no loss.

People always seem to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.
Thus, the saying goes:
be as careful at the end as at the beginning, and you will not fail.

Therefore, the Consultant
seeks objectivity, rather than lusting after expensive toys;
learns how not to learn, and returns to study neglected fields.
Though he helps maintain the ten thousand programs,
he knows better than to try to capture them.

65: On Virtue, Independent of Origin

In ancient times, those who followed the Way
did not educate the people, but kept them ignorant.
They reckoned it difficult to govern an educated people:
thus, promoting learning would harm the state,
while promoting ignorance would benefit the state.

True mastery of knowledge and ignorance
also finds a basis for mental discipline.
True mastery of this discipline
is called Subtle Virtue.
Subtle Virtue is deep and far-reaching,
and returns things to their natural flow.

66: The Virtue of Linus Torvalds

The great river and the sea
rule the ten thousand valleys
by virtue of lying below them.

Therefore, the Consultant,
in order to stand above other developers,
must present himself as below them;
in order to lead the world,
he must leave his self-interest behind.

That way, although he is on top,
he does not feel like a burden;
although he is in front,
he does not appear to block the way:
the world itself promotes him tirelessly.

Well, it is only because he does not compete
that nobody can compete with him.

67: The Three Treasures

All the world calls me great,
although I don't seem like much.
Well, it is only because I don't seem like much
that I can be great:
If I were like something else,
I would always remain small!

I have three things of true value:
the first is compassion;
the second is economy;
the third is not pushing to the front.

Compassion permits courage.
Economy permits generosity.
Not pushing to the front permits leadership.

Courage without compassion;
generosity without economy;
leading from the front:
these things lead to death.

Compassion leads to victory in war,
and security in defense.
That which Heaven would establish,
it first surrounds with compassion.

68: On Public and Private Relations

A good soldier is not belligerent.
A good duelist does not lose his temper.
A good tactician will not prefer a frontal assault.
One good at using others places himself below them.

This is the virtue of noncompetition.
This is how to use others.
This is the ancient art of matching Heaven.

69: More On Strategy, In General

There is a military saying:
rather than go visiting my enemy, I would have him visit me;
before taking an inch of ground, I would retreat a foot.

This is:
maneuver without motion,
rolling up sleeves without baring arms,
capture without force,
battle without an enemy.

There is no disaster like not recognizing the enemy:
fail to respect an opponent, and you will lose your assets.
When arms are taken up, other things being equal,
the side that worries will win.

70: On the Conventional Dress Code

My words are easy to know,
and easy to practice,
but no one can know them,
and no one can practice them.

Well, words have an ancestor,
and tasks have a manager,
and it is only the practice of not-knowing
that means no one can know me.
Well, and if those who know me are few,
then I must perforce be valuable.

Therefore, the Consultant
wears jeans and a T-shirt:
what is valuable, he carries inside.

71: A Paradox of Self-Awareness

To know how not to know:
this is the highest.
To not know about knowing:
this is sickness.

Therefore, the Consultant
perceives the sickness as a sickness,
that is why he avoids being sick.

72: On Employee Relations

If the developers do not respect the management,
they will find an employer they do respect.

Do not reduce the size of their cubicles,
and do not cut their compensation:
it is only because you do not burden them
that they do not become tired of you.

Therefore, the Consultant
knows himself, but does not make himself known;
loves himself, but does not think himself high and mighty.
Thus, by avoiding the one, he chooses the other.

73: On Courage

Courage in daring leads to death.
Courage in not-daring leads to life.
Of physical and moral courage,
one is beneficial, and the other is harmful.
Who knows why Heaven hates what it does?

The Way of Heaven is
to win without competing,
to convince without speaking,
to organize without commanding,
to implement with ease.

The net of Heaven is wide;
though sparse, it misses nothing.

74: On Workplace Discipline

If your people despise their jobs,
why should they care if you threaten to fire them?
If your people like their jobs,
and know they will lose them if they behave badly,
who would dare?

For people to fear being fired,
there must always be a hatchetman.
To stand in for the hatchetman
is to substitute for a professional craftsman:
by misusing his tools, you will injure yourself.

75: On the Dysfunctional Company

(or: A Fish Rots From the Head Down)

The projects are failing
because those above leave them insufficient resources;
that is why they fail.
The employees are hard to manage
because those above abuse their power;
that is why they are angry.
The developers take their jobs lightly
because those above make demands that consume their life;
that is why they scoff at layoffs.

Well, he who does not trade his life for his livelihood
is wiser than those who value their jobs.

76: On Life and Death

A living man is soft and supple;
a dead man becomes stiff and rigid.
A living program is flexible and adaptable;
a dead program becomes fragile and brittle.

Thus, the stiff and the rigid are the companions of death,
and the soft the supple are the companions of life.

If the sword is inflexible, it will break;
if the oak is mighty, it will fall to the storm.

Thus, the rigid and the great will lie low,
and the soft and the flexible will rise above them.

77: Heaven, Earth, and the Uncarved Block

The Way of Heaven is like developing a program:
the high-level is made concrete,
the low-level is made abstract,
the inefficient is removed,
the insufficient is improved.

The Way of the Market
uses surplus to supply deficit,
as opposed to the Way of Monopoly,
which takes from deficit, to increase surplus.

Who, then, when having abundance,
offers his efforts to increase the ten thousand programs?
Perhaps only one who follows the Way.

Therefore, the Consultant
develops the code, but does not make it proprietary,
completes the project, but does not demand ownership:
that way, he need not advertise his worth.

78: The Action of Water

(or: You're Doin' a Heckuva Job, Brownie!)

Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water,
but there is nothing like it for attacking the hard and strong:
this is because nothing can take its place.

That water eats stone, that the soft defeats the hard:
this is something nobody in the world does not know,
but nobody seems to put it into practice, either.

Therefore, the Consultant says:
only he who truly accepts blame is a worthy executive;
only he who takes on disaster is a true leader.

Well, great truths can sound perverse.

79: On Getting Paid

In resolving a lawsuit,
there will always be some ill-will remaining;
how can this be good for business?

Therefore, the Consultant
keeps careful track of his accounts receivable,
but is not a stickler for immediate payment.
The virtuous keep scrupulous accounts;
the virtueless engage in indiscriminate enforcement.

The Way of Heaven is impartial:
the client will always need a good consultant again.

80: The Idyll

A small company, with few people.

Let there be intellectual property,
but no occasion to enforce it.
Let the employees love their jobs,
and have no desire to leave them.

There may be a corporate handbook,
which no one needs.
If there are patents,
they are not for business models or software.

Let the employees telecommute when appropriate,
and buy them donuts occasionally.
Let them wear what they want,
socialize how they want,
decorate their offices as they want.

Although other companies may share the building,
as well as a parking lot and other facilities,
your people will grow old and retire without knowing them.

81: A Final Summary

Honest words are not pleasant;
pleasant words are not honest.
The academic is not practical;
the practical is not academic.
The competent are not many;
many are not competent.

The Consultant does not accumulate.
The more he helps others,
the more he gains himself;
the more he gives to others,
the more he gets for himself.

The Way of Heaven is to help, not to harm.
The Way of the Consultant is to deliver, not to compete.