It was apt that I should come across this nugget of wisdom- “Conquer by Inaction” while managing a project of which I just could not understand the technical details. On the other hand, the team that I had was highly mature and usually they drive me (the project manager), rather than the other way around.
Conquer by Inaction
(or The Tao of Project Management)
If you want to be a great leader,
stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts and
the team will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have,
the less disciplined the team will be.
The more you coerce,
the less secure the team will be.
The more external help you call,
the less self-reliant the team will be. (57)
Based on the following Chinese text (TaoDeChing – Lao Tze)
57. Conquer with Inaction
Do not control the people with laws,
Nor violence nor espionage,
But conquer them with inaction.
The more morals and taboos there are,
The more cruelty afflicts people;
The more guns and knives there are,
The more factions divide people;
The more arts and skills there are,
The more change obsoletes people;
The more laws and taxes there are,
The more theft corrupts people.
Yet take no action, and the people nurture each other;
Make no laws, and the people deal fairly with each other;
Own no interest, and the people cooperate with each other;
Express no desire, and the people harmonize with each other.
I guess this has some elements of chaos theory according to which there is no absolute “chaos”, rather it has some self- governing aspects to it. The word “inaction” is an exaggerated way of putting it, but it does get attention.