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.


As mistranslated, this is simply a restatement of good general practices in modern software companies. You can argue that they are a cynical ploy to get more work out of the workers, and you’d be right — but on the other hand, perks are better than no perks, and treating your people well is its own reward.


chapter notes:

This is the first chapter in the original which is specifically about political philosophy, as well as the first which advises against knowledge.

Here, as in most other cases, I have retargeted political philosophy to apply to the running of a company, division, or project rather than to the ruling of a state.

Advice against learning has in part been replaced with a modern virtue (“remain […] without preconception”) only vaguely related to the original, and in part replaced wholesale with something somewhat relevant to the overall text (“keep office politics down to a dull roar”). In this, it is also exemplary of other such cases.