Michael Hi George.
George Hi Mike. I saved you a seat.
Michael Sorry I'm late. We're still having problems getting stable readings on the prototypes. It's got everyone confused. In fact, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I've been considering a recommendation to abandon further testing on the prototype until R & D comes up with answers to the current problems we've been having. But, I don't know how to approach the problem gracefully.

You know Bob Carlin pretty well. How do you think he would react to having the 470s back in R & D before we've completed our testing. I really feel that we've wasted enough time on the damn thing. The problems don't seem to have anything to do with our test procedures so it must be the equipment.
George Well, I can tell you that Bob is a very thorough guy, and it's not likely that he would send along any prototypes which he knew might give you problems. Have you talked to him about it?
Michael Heavens no. Frankly, the whole thing scares me to death, but I wouldn't admit that to anyone but you.
George Well, let's see what we really have. You can't locate the reasons for the problems, and you're reluctant to confront Bob. Have you tried everything?
Michael Absolutely! All the standard procedures in the book. We're just not getting any reliability in our readings. The only thing left is instability in the equipment, and that's R & D's fault. We've tried everything else.
George Even the contrapuntals?
Michael You don't ever tire of that Tao stuff, do you George? Look, I've got a technical problem to solve, and I can't see where your book, as great as it may be, serves as a tech manual on 470s prototypes.
George Calm down, Mike. We'll solve your problem. All I meant about contrapuntals was to look at the whole problem from another angle. That's what creative problem solving is all about, and it sounds like you could use some creativity.
Michael I don't know. We've got some pretty sharp people down in the shop and they've drawn blanks.
George Well let me be clearer about what I mean:

Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore profit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.
Michael I've heard that before somewhere, but you're going to have to be a little clearer than that. Are you saying that I should look for doors and windows, the things that aren't there, to solve my problem?
George That's a good start, Mike. We're certainly accustomed to looking at objects and not the space around them. Maybe that's why we get stuck so often. It's not just substance and emptiness, though. Listen:

The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.

That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action.

Teaching without words and work without doing
Are understood by very few.
Michael Back to water, right? Water is soft and my problem is looking very, very hard right now. But, I can't believe that I'm going to solve it by non-action. In fact, I almost asked Larry to come in on the weekend to give it one last shot before Monday.
George What happens on Monday?
Michael Well, nothing really, but I just didn't want to spend forever on it. I get real impatient living with other people's mistakes. We've got better things to do with our time.
George You seem awfully sure of that. What I'm trying to get you to understand is that you might benefit by defining your problem in a completely different way. See if this helps:

See simplicity in the complicated;
Achieve greatness in little things.

In the universe the difficult things
Are done as if they are easy.

In the universe great acts
Are made up of small deeds.

The sage does not attempt anything very big
And thus achieves greatness.
Michael Well, that sounds hopeful. Maybe what you mean is I'm putting too much pressure on myself and my staff to succeed. Maybe there really isn't much of a problem here at all. I could just go on as we've been doing with one difference - we wouldn't get upset by the lack of progress.
George Sounds interesting. Can you do that?
Michael Ha, I don't know. All my life, I've pushed and pushed. It's harder than hell to sit back and take what you call non-action. It's a lot harder for me than acting, I'11 tell you that. Do you think that approach would really work here? I mean, it seems like flowing means letting things slide.
George Well, I don't think the Tao says to do nothing. But for every decision we make, there is the option of non-action which, as you say, is often more difficult for us to take. But don't miss the point. The Tao is also about being careful, about not making mistakes, and success. Listen:

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning.
Then there will be no failure.
Michael So I should start and end carefully and be aware that I don't have to take action all the time. That makes sense. And I sure can see the advantages of avoiding a confrontation with Bob Carlin.

But, what if we never find out what's wrong with the 470s? What if it just rots in our shop without finding out who's to blame for its reliability problems?
George Maybe that would be an appropriate burial ground for the unit as well as your problem,
Michael I'11 get the check, George. See you next week.

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