You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2010.

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.


chapter notes:

As there appears to be disagreement over the interpretation of the first half of this chapter, I have found something modern which is hopefully consonant with the original.

For those not familiar with software development, a “death march” is a software project that is doomed to failure, but whose failure is politically impossible. Working on a death march project is very stressful for all concerned, as well as being a bottomless hole for the resources of the organization supporting it.

The second half is straightforward. As Lao Tzu is commonly portrayed with his trusty water buffalo, I have chosen “buffalo” as a dangerous animal here. Although the water buffalo had long been domesticated, wild water buffalo are aggressive and dangerous, and would have been a hazard of wilderness travel.

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.


chapter notes:

Except for the last line, this chapter is straightforward; the sense of the original seems to apply to both ancient and modern Consultants.

February 2010

Post Categories