Michael has supervised the testing operation in Product Development for several weeks.

Michael Hi George, I was just thinking about you last night. There was a show on about Chinese art, something that I wouldn't usually watch, but your interest in the Tao made me take a look. It was quite interesting, actually.
George In what way?
Michael Well, it's hard to say, but the Chinese seem to have a very simple conception: sparse content, muted colors, and things like that. Western art to me always seemed so rich and colorful, like each piece was created to say something really important.
George Perhaps the Chinese feel that simple is important.
Michael I guess you have a point there. Maybe that's the whole idea behind your book. You know, an ancient version of the KISS principle, keep it simple stupid! But, I still have trouble with that philosophy for management. Things are too complex.

If you've read Toffler's Third Wave or even Future Shock, you'd have a hard time accepting this Tao principle of going with the flow. Managers today really have to keep on top of things or else they just explode.
George I'm not sure what you mean. Can you give me an example?
Michael Sure. Just the other day Harry and three technicians came to me for more money to lease new test equipment for the KL-100 models. Joanne, one of the new girls, heard about this equipment from a friend at the last convention, and she insisted it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It had reduced test time, reporting of electronic stress data, and a direct interface with our own micros to store data for later study. I told her and Harry to hold off till we could be sure, that if you grab every new idea that comes along, we'd obviously waste more money than we save.
George How do you relate that to the Tao?
Michael Well, the technology keeps changing so fast, and if you go with the flow, you lose control. Each incident like this requires a careful managerial assessment of costs and savings, as well as the technical features. That doesn't mean we reject all good ideas just because we've committed to a budget.

But, it does mean staying on top of everything and actively managing each situation that comes along. To me the kind of non-action that your book talks about would only lead to trouble. It just doesn't move fast enough for today's world.
George So you're concerned about rapid technological change and keeping pace with it.
Michael Exactly. But, I'm also concerned with costs and my budget.
George Sounds like balance and harmony to me.
Michael Well, I don't feel very harmonious at the moment. Harry can really give you a headache. It's tough keeping up with a guy like that. He's always pushing for new equipment.
George So you provide the contrapuntal. Listen:

Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?

Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.

Not seeking fulfillment,
They are not swayed by desire for change.
Michael But, we've got to change! What really gives me a headache is that Harry's right! Some of our test procedures are a joke, If you ask me, the company that doesn't "seek fulfillment" won't be around very long, and neither will managers who wait for the mud to settle.
George That may or may not be. You just told me that you delayed Harry's request. Why?
Michael Well, I wanted all of us to have a little more time to assess the situation. You know, cost out the alternatives, evaluate the current testing program. That's only logical. Besides, I've got some neat project evaluation software that is just perfect for that sort of analysis. Why not try it out?
George You're beginning to impress me already as a follower of the Tao.
Michael Excuse me?
George You essentially chose not to act on the equipment request, to allow time for things to change on their own rather than to intervene actively with a definite yes or no. Did you think of it that way?
Michael No, not really. I wanted time to make an evaluation, but you are right about not giving them a definite answer one way or the other. I can see that it did buy me some time. Hmm.
George Has Harry pressed you any more since he made the request?
Michael Well, actually I've been avoiding him. But, I saw Joanne in the cafeteria yesterday. She didn't mention a thing. I don't suppose she forgot, but maybe her initial enthusiasm has worn off a bit.
George High winds do not last all morning.
Heavy rains do not last all day.

Maybe the storm has blown over. Give the situation a chance to settle down.

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