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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.

 


chapter notes:

After converting advice for the state into business advice, there was the question of what to do with those lines which were only relevant to the state. Some of these are obvious in context, but others required some thought. The correspondences I chose:

  • the recommendation against taboos and prohibitions has been changed to make developers rebellious, not poorer
  • the recommendation to disarm the population is not relevant; I have converted it to “arbitrary and capricious enforcement”
  • the recommendation against educating the population is not relevant; I have converted it to recommendation against “cleverness” on the part of management.
  • the recommendation against Legalist publicizing of laws has been converted to advice against “threatening memos”

The last verse has been converted to a hierarchical sequence, rather than uniformly referring to “the people”.

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