Introduction: What is strategy and why do you need it?

What is strategy? Why do you need it? How do you do it? And, how can you be more certain to succeed? The Art of Strategy provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War using the lenses of strategists John Boyd and Simon Wardley (swardley).

和 (Hé) Harmony. Erik Schön (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Art of Strategy is a short introduction to strategy through the insights of three successful strategists: Sun Tzu (c. 551–496 BC), John Boyd (1927–1997) and Simon Wardley (swardley).

It is a modern reading of Sun Tzu’s Art of War — the strategy classic written…


It’s All About the Journey

Photo: Erik Schön. LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this article

The 2nd edition is 15% shorter and includes more of the challenges and struggles based on feedback from Alistair Cockburn. It was originally published in Cutter Business Technology Journal, Vol. 32, №5, 2019 on “Cutting-Edge Agile” with Alistair Cockburn as Guest Editor.

Come along with me through the experiences and insights from the ups and downs of an Agile journey in a 2,000+-person product development unit in 10 locations in Sweden, Poland, and China, resulting in
a quadrupling of value throughput; a doubling of speed; a tenfold increase in quality; and happier, more engaged people who are, ultimately, more innovative.


Sections 74–81

Photo: Debby Hudson/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

74. Fearing Death

Lao Tzu

If people are unafraid of death,
how can you threaten them with death? …


Sections 67–73

Photo: Farzane Saremi/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

67. Compassion, Frugality, Modesty

Lao Tzu

Everyone calls purpose
great, and unlike anything else.

It is great only because
it is unlike anything else.
If it were like anything else
it would be small.

There are three…


Sections 62–66

Photo: zulianię_/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

62. True Reward, True Giving

Lao Tzu

Purpose is the center of everything:
prized by the able;
sheltering the lost.

Beautiful words can be traded,
noble deeds can enhance reputations,
if people lack them,
why reject them?

When…


Sections 56–61

Photo: Chris Lawton/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

56. The Original Unity

Lao Tzu

Those who know
avoid talking.
Those who talk
are unaware.

Block the passage,
bolt the gate,
blunt the sharp,
unravel the tangles,
harmonise the light,
blend with the dust.

This is…


Sections 50–55

Photo: J Gowell/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

50. Truly Set on Living

Lao Tzu

In the cycle of life and death:
companions of life are one third,
companions of death are one third,
one third are set on living, they slide from life to death.


Sections 44–49

Photo: Henley Design Studio/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

44. Knowing What is Enough

Lao Tzu

Reputation or person: which is dearer?
Person or possessions: which means more?
Gain or loss: which hurts more?

Thrift comes at great cost.
Hoarding leads to heavy losses.

Know what is…


Sections 38–43

Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

38. Effectiveness

Lao Tzu

The most excellent avoid striving to excel
and so reach the highest effectiveness.
The least excellent strive to excel
and so are without effectiveness.

The most effective avoid pressure and control…


Sections 31–37

Photo: Dingzeyu Li/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead? The Art of Leadership provides timeless answers to these eternal questions. It is a modern reading of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching — a guide for leaders in ancient China. “Purpose is a surer path to productivity than pressure. Pressure keeps knocking you off the path. Purpose keeps bringing you back onto the path” Kent Beck (All Parts).

31. A Great Victory is a Funeral

Lao Tzu

Weapons are terrible things,
they are hated.
Therefore, avoid them.

At home, honour the left.
In war, honour the right.

Weapons are terrible things,
only to be used as a last…

Erik Schön

Executive and strategist who has successfully developed and deployed strategy for over 20 years in small, medium and large organizations.

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