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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.

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Welcome to The Way of the Consultant!

I should start out by making it clear that, if you feel like it, you can read the whole thing at once: I have put up a website with the entire book at

However, I have posted the first chapter below, and my plan is to post all 81 chapters in turn, one by one, roughly one per weekday (which should last a while). Also, there will be links, glossary terms, commentary, and anything else I happen to think of.

If anything you read here particularly resonates with you, feel free to leave a comment. Likewise, if you particularly disagree with something, if you have an interesting link, if anything is unclear, or if there’s something you feel could be done better…

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.

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October 2009

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