The Agile Tao (Lao Tzu Refactored)
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The Agile Tao

Agility Alignment Leadership Transform Community & Flow

About the Book

Agility is practical, not mystical.

A way of life, not a state of grace.  

Listening as if crossing thin ice,  

Testing as a boat on troubled water,  

Learning as a stranger in a strange land,  

Simplifying as the spring thaw,  

Integrating as the deep woods,  

Leading as the valley does the river,  

Evolving as its silt feeds the fields.  

Imagine the ice solid or the stream clear,  

Stop to plan the way ahead,  

Ignore what flows underfoot;  

You fall and disappear.  

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About the Author

Peter Merel
Peter Merel

Peter is credited in the first Agile book and keynoted the first Agile conference. He began work on his translation of Lao Tzu in the 80s, introduced it to Ward's Wiki in the 90s, and his talk on it at XP2K became the first chapter of the second XP book in 2001.


Heart-Of-Agile creator and Manifesto author Alistair Cockburn linked Peter's Lao Tzu on the front page of his blog for several years. In 2009, it was adapted as the bible of Dudeism, the Coen Brothers' "Big Lebowski" religion, in Oliver Benjamin's "Dude De Ching". And it was one of the most popular translations in China for decades.


In the 2010s Peter restarted his translation using the Chinese dictionaries gathered by Bradford Hatcher for his 2009 "Lao Tzu Word by Word". But now, instead of merely polishing the pieces of the old puzzle, Peter set about assembling into a consistent and logical whole.


Solving a six-dimensional jigsaw puzzle where each piece has dozens of different faces is a daunting task. Peter's key realization here is that "sheng ren", traditionally translated into English as "the sage", originally meant the agile one or the agile ones ... or agility itself. So the Tao was always Agile, and, through Peter, Agility was always based on the Tao.


Table of Contents

  • Release as a Beta Book
  • Part 1: Agility
    • 1. Workflow (xv)
    • 2. Embrace Change (xxiii)
    • 3. Like Water (v/viii/vii)
    • 4. Community (xii/iii)
    • 5. The End of Agility (lxvii)
    • 6. Compassion (xlix)
    • 7. Openness (xlviii/xli)
    • 8. Discipline (xxii/xxiv)
    • 9. Flexibility (xlv/xxii)
    • 10. Tact (lxxxi/lvi)
    • 11. Without Competing (xxxiii)
  • Part 2: Alignment
    • 12. Mutual Benefit (lxxvii)
    • 13. Throughput (xviii/xix)
    • 14. Command and Control (xxxix/xxxii)
    • 15. Sweet Rain (xxxix/xxxii)
    • 16. Real Power (lxxviii)
    • 17. Exploitation (xxix)
    • 18. Alignment (lxi/xxxv)
    • 19. Power and Harmony (xxxviii/liv a)
    • 20. Fruit and Flowers (xxxviii/liv b)
    • 21. Cultivation (lxiii/lxiv a)
    • 22. The Bottleneck (lxiii)
  • Part 3: Leadership
    • 23. The Captain (xxvi)
    • 24. Strength Adapts (xxvii)
    • 25. Weakness Adapts (xl/xli)
    • 26. Agile Leaders (xvii/xxxvii)
    • 27. Servant Leadership (lxvi/lxxii)
    • 28. Authority (lvii)
    • 29. Delicate Fish (lix)
    • 30. Humility (lxx)
    • 31. Detours (lxviii/liii)
    • 32. Enough (ix/xii)
    • 33. The Grain of Harmony (xxviii)
  • Part 4: Transform
    • 34. You Aren’t Gonna Need It (xxx)
    • 35. Pulling Change(lxix/xlii)
    • 36. Reversal (lviii)
    • 37. Subtlety (xlii/xliii)
    • 38. Subversion (xlv/xxxvi/lxix)
    • 39. Revolution (lxxv/lxviii/lxxiv)
    • 40. Diplomacy (l)
    • 41. Repayment (xxxi)
    • 42. Discretion (xliv)
    • 43. Negotiation (lxiv b/lxxix)
    • 44. Scaling (lxxiii)
  • Part 5: Community
    • 45. Horses (xlvi/lxiv b)
    • 46. Without Power (xx)
    • 47. At The Breast (lv)
    • 48. Executive Support (lxii)
    • 49. Embracing Harmony (xxi/xxxv)
    • 50. Preaching (lxv/lxiv)
    • 51. Empowering Harmony (lx)
    • 52. Out Of Bureaucracy (xlii/lxxvi)
    • 53. Interdependence (li)
    • 54. Joining (liv)
    • 55. Community (lxxx)
  • Part 6: Flow
    • 56. Mind (i)
    • 57. Ecosystem (iv/vi/vii/v)
    • 58. Cycles (ii)
    • 59. Learning (xi/x)
    • 60. The Cradle (xxv)
    • 61. Self (xiii/x)
    • 62. Awake (lii)
    • 63. On The Tide (xvi)
    • 64. Inner Light (lxxi/xlvii)
    • 65. Now (xiv)
    • 66. Meaning (xxxiv)
  • Appendix 1. Refactorings
  • Appendix 2. Glossagraphy
  • Explanations
    • Before The Tao
    • The Agile Empire
    • What does it mean to be Agile?
    • Lao Tzu Wasn’t Chinese
    • A Tao for our Time
    • The Book Of Riddles
    • Refactoring The Tao
    • Killing The Sage
    • What is Tao?

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