Purpose and Integrity for Sustainable Success in Turbulent Times

The Art of Leadership: Glossary

Explanation of key terms

Erik Schön
Published in
27 min readDec 24, 2020


Photo: 五玄土 ORIENTO/Unsplash

What is leadership? Why is this important? How do you lead successfully? 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 sustainable success in turbulent times. All Parts. Other reading formats.

Chinese language is highly contextual and many Chinese concepts are purposefully abstract, ambiguous and have multiple meanings; they seldom have precise definitions as Chinese are not fond of providing definitions or even of the idea of definition itself (Yuen).


Adapting to and Shaping a situation to take full advantage of the current conditions and to use the possibilities of the situation to succeed by fulfilling Purpose. This requires Agility and Foreknowledge.

因 (yīn) means avail oneself of, to make the best of, to rely upon.


為 (wéi) means act, to do; change; make; try; practice. See also Action without Pressure and Control.

Action — Action without Pressure and Control

A Correlative Pair; see Action and Action without Pressure and Control.

Action without Pressure and Control

The doctrine of inaction is usually difficult to understand. Interpreted in the light of science, it means making use of the natural forces to achieve one’s object with the greatest economy (Lin Yutang).

Conscious inaction so we can allow the most natural, effortless action to emerge; seek mastery through small, incremental actions (Goh).

Not doing nothing or no-intervention, but doing useful things and intervening wisely so as to allow beneficial outcomes to emerge ‘naturally’ (Nonaka & Zhu).

Doing things non-coercively and effectively in accordance with Purpose (Ames & Hall).

Promoted solely in the expectation of tangible benefits purely on the grounds of its effectiveness … it is by refraining from action that we can best bring about what we desire (Jullien).

We should not hurry to act, since most things in the world take care of themselves if left alone. And when we act, we should do so cautiously, or we might destroy more than we solve (Stenudd).

The favourite example for this is the growth of plants. One must neither pull on plants to hasten their growth (an image of direct action), nor must one fail to hoe the earth around them so as to encourage their growth (by creating favourable conditions for it). You cannot force a plant to grow by means of coercion, but neither should you neglect it. What you should do is liberate it from whatever might impede its development. You must allow it to grow. Such tactics are equally effective at the level of politics. Skilled leaders eliminate constraints and exclusions, make it possible for all that exists to develop as suits it … they act in such a way that things can happen of their own accord. Even if the doing becomes minimal, so discreet as to be hardly discernible, allowing things to happen constitutes active involvement (Jullien).

See also Action, Action — Action without Pressure and Control, Conditions — Consequences, Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (wu- forms).

無為 (wúwéi) means acting without coercion; acting with caution and consideration; spontaneity, spontaneous action governed by the mind and not the senses; going with the flow, flowing with the moment, trimming sails to the wind, letting things follow their own natural course; effortless action; not acting (in the theatrical sense), acting naturally, acting spontaneously with openness and humility.


The ability to adapt to and influence situations more skilfully than Competition including timely break out of Successful — but non-sustainable — patterns.

Art of Strategy

A modern reading of the Art of War including how it applies to business, conflicts and strategy in general.

Art of War

An ancient Chinese military treatise (“Military Methods”, 兵法) dating from the 5th century BC. The work, which is attributed to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, is composed of 13 chapters. Each chapter is devoted to an aspect of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. It remains the most influential strategy text and has influenced military thinking, business tactics, politics, legal strategy, lifestyles and beyond; see the Art of Strategy for a modern reading.


A valuation of the current situation and conditions based on Purpose, Leadership, Landscape, Climate, Doctrine, Capabilities, training and clarity of feedback; informs choices of Gameplays in a Strategy.

計 (jì) means assessment, calculation, gameplay, plan, plot, scheme, stratagem, strategy.


An ongoing, dynamic achievement that requires constant monitoring and adjustment (Ames & Hall).

靜 (jìng) means balance, equilibrium; stillness, tranquility; still, calm, quiet, not moving; calmness of the heart and mind; enlightenment.

Photo: © Filmfoto/Dreamstime.com


Succeeding together with your Stakeholders — maximising outcomes while minimsing efforts.


The ability to fulfill a Stakeholder’s Need.

Chuang Tzu

Born c.369 bc, died c.286 bc. Chinese philosopher and writer. Chuang Tzu (“The Village Master”, Zhu ̄angzˇı 莊子) is traditionally credited with writing — in part or in whole — a work known by his name, the Chuang Tzu, which is one of the foundational texts of Taoism.


The forces acting on the environment including patterns of the seasons and competitors’ actions. The rules of the game, patterns that are applied across contexts (Wardley).

天 (tiān) means climate; universe, world; nature; sky, heaven (non-religious).


The practice of forcing to act in an involuntary manner by use of threats or force. Synonyms include “pressure” and “control”. See also Action without Pressure and Control.


A strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of
others and a wish to help them.

The Chinese character 仁 (rén) is constructed from the elements 亻 (rén), “person”, and, 二 (èr), “two”, and originates historically from a Proto-Sino-Tibetan word which means “heart”, “brain” or “mind” — hence a caring relationship between two people.

Rén (仁) means compassion, compassionate, humane; humaneness, benevolence, kindness; love; kerne


  1. Conditions where an Organisation strives to gain advantage or Control over others using a constraint, i.e. a limitation of a resource or time or money or people.
  2. One or several Competitors.


An Organisation that desires the same area in the Landscape as your Organisation.


A single entity in a Wardley Map; different types of entities exist: activities, practices, data, knowledge

Conditions — Consequences

Use Setup to create suitable conditions for an advantageous Momentum to develop as a consequence. This condition-consequence approach is complementary to the classic Western ends (objectives) — ways (courses of actions) — means (resources) approach to Strategy (Echevarria) which, although valuable for initial planning, is far from optimal in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous Environments with Stakeholders having different, potentially conflicting Purposes.

For an outcome to be realised effectively, it follows as a consequence of a process that transforms a situation rather than a goal that leads to Actions. Unlike the ends–ways–means approach which involves a predetermined plan (course of Actions) that is liable to disintegrate when put into practice facing Stakeholders, the condition-consequence approach is designed to leave as little room for chance as possible. This is done by identifying favourable factors before they have developed and creating suitable conditions in advance, and, in this way enabling evolution in a suitable direction.

There are three distinct advantages of the condition-consequence approach to Strategy compared to the traditional end-means-ways approach when circumstances (Landscape, Climate, Stakeholders, Organisation, . . . ) change as they invariably will in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous Environment (Yuen):

  1. It helps avoid being locked into a predetermined course of action.
  2. It helps avoid constant re-planning when there is too big a difference between reality and plan.
  3. It helps avoid being locked into bringing about one single, predetermined outcome.


The Organisation’s Purpose and Landscape.


The power or authority to regulate, restrain, verify, (usually against some standard) direct or Command. Comes from the medieval Latin contrarotulus, a “counter roll” or checklist (contra, against plus rotulus, list) (Boyd).

Correlative Pair

A pair of opposite and complementary aspects used to understand relations, transcend, move beyond or integrate apparent paradoxes or trade-offs, or, embrace clashing, instructive perspectives, e.g. order — chaos, Strength — Weakness, Expected — Surprise, Resilient — Fragile, alignment — autonomy.

Far from being two irreducible or even mutually exclusive states, a pair consists of two consecutive stages that are part of the same continuum — influenced by the ever-changing reality, e.g. efforts by Stakeholders and changes in Landscape and Climate, and tend to mutually influence each other in an endless cycle.

Finding ways to move beyond or integrate the apparent paradoxes or trade-offs requires deep analysis and synthesis and is an essential part of Strategy Development. The resulting pattern for understanding the dynamics of the correlative pairs serves as an important means for Successful Strategy Deployment and Engagement, e.g. Shaping for Expected — Surprise.

Skilled leaders employ correlative pairs for orientation as preparation for initiatives, decisions and actions to move beyond apparent trade-offs, and, as a stepping stone towards seeing and Harmonising the System (Yuen).

If you want to understand something, take it to the extremes or examine its opposites (Boyd).

A modern example of a correlative pair where it is possible to move beyond the apparent trade-off is alignment — autonomy in organisations, where high alignment on intent (what & why) enables high autonomy in actions and decisions (how) by individual people and teams which results in higher speed, more innovation and higher engagement (Bungay, Schön).


Ways of operating, communicating and organising that apply irrespective of Landscape and Climate, i.e. approaches which can be applied regardless of Context (Wardley).

Ecological Resilience

A way of maintaining the existence of function. See also Engineering Resilience.


Maximum outcomes, through suitable actions, decisions and behaviours in order to fulfil a specific Purpose (“doing the right things”), while minimising effort (“doing things right”). See also Integrity.


Emptiness brings usefulness, e.g. the emptiness of a pot. Emptiness gives things and thoughts room to move. See also Empty — Full and Full.

Empty — Full

A Correlative Pair; see also Empty and Full and Strength — Weakness.


A vital field that the universe and its phenomena are perturbations that emerge out of and fold back into (Ames & Hall).

氣 () means energy, life’s energy, vital energising field, psychophysical matter. The Chinese sign combines the signs for “rice” and “steam”. Rice was and is the main food for the Chinese, but it needs to be boiled before consumption.


A collision of Organisations where each Organisation aims to fulfil its Purpose; a conflict where two Organisations desire the same thing;
戰 (zhàn) means specific engagement, military action, battle;
争 (zhēng) means conflict, dispute, fight;
兵 (bīng) means competition, war, weapon, soldier, force.

Engineering Resilience

A way of maintaining the efficiency of function. See also Ecological Resilience.


The Context and how it is changing (Wardley).


正 (zhèng) means expected, correct, direct, ordinary, orthodox, proper, right, straight, straightforward, true. See also Expected — Surprise and Surprise.

Expected — Surprise

A Correlative Pair signifying contrasting types of Engagements used in combination in order to succeed. In Business, start with delivering the Expected, e.g. expected features, quality and performance; then positively Surprise your customers in order to secure delight and loyalty, just like Apple pursues the “Wow” and “desire to use”. Users decide what is Expected and Surprising and this can change over time, e.g. based on Components’ Movement and Competitions’ moves.

See also Expected and Surprise.

Synonyms: direct — indirect, direct — oblique, regular — irregular, conventional — unconventional, orthodox — unorthodox, normal — exceptional, ordinary — extraordinary, regular — irregular, overt — covert, straightforward — crafty;


情 (qíng) means feeling, emotion; passion; situation.

Feeling — Unmediated Feeling

A Correlative Pair; see Feeling and Unmediated Feeling.

See also Thinking and Feeling, Thinking and Feeling — Unmediated Thinking and Feeling.


A system that adapts rapidly to changing circumstances, i. e. the efficiency of function might decline rapidly due to a change although the function continues to exist.

See also Fragile, Resilient and Robust.


Knowledge about the Environment for estimating Momentum to secure the Organisation’s safety and Success. It is gained through careful observation and intelligence operations. It is a recognition of relevant patterns and relations understood holistically as part of a System and Components in the light of their Environment.

It is Knowledge with uncertainty since it is an interpretation of the situation to gain Situational Awareness. The quest for Knowledge is relative: strive for higher Situational Awareness than Competition.


The opposite of having a Setup; without a discernible Setup, or, a perceived lack of Setup, e.g. by means of a hidden Setup; being more adaptable and ready to seize opportunities.

See also Formless — Setup and Setup.

無形 (wúxíng) means formless, invisible, imperceptible, intangible, unfathomable, unreadable, without form.

Formless — Setup

A Correlative Pair; see Formless and Setup.


The characteristics of a system unable to adapt or cope with change, breaking easily and ceasing to function.

See also Fluid, Resilient and Robust.


See also Empty and Empty — Full.


A context-specific choice extracting maximum value from psychological,
social, financial and physical factors; sometimes called a stratagem; often
involving shaping (Wardley).

謀 (móu) means gameplay, (operational) plan, plot, scheme, stratagem,


An emergent sense of order that begins from the coordination of concrete details, maximises diversity and avoids sameness; the quality of the combination at any one moment created by effectively correlating and contextualising the available events or entities (Ames).

The etymology of the character is culinary, harmony being the art of combining and blending two or more ingredients so that they enhance one another without losing their distinctive flavours … Harmony … entails both the individual integrity of the particular ingredient and its integration into some larger whole. Harmony in nature is not only auto-generative and self-sustaining, but persists only as long as it remains free from calculated manipulation, well-intended or otherwise. When the patterns of nature are taken as counsel for political order in the empire, they teach us that the human world too will flourish if left to its own internal impulses. (Ames & Hall).

Harmony incorporates specific personal goals, in the plural, in the making. Strategy is about adjusting and coordinating such personal goals into a shared common good appropriate to particular situations. Since situations are ever-changing in unrepeated and unpredictable ways, the more diverse the community’s capacities to act, the more chances it will have to sense, seize and realise emerging opportunities (Nonaka & Zhu).

The Chinese character 和 (hé) is constructed from the elements 禾 (hé), “grain”, and, 口 (kˇou), “mouth” — food meets mouth, hence “harmony” being the art of combining and blending two or more ingredients so that they enhance one another without losing their distinctive flavours.

和 (hé) means harmony, achieved order, peace, union, united.

Heart and Mind

In the ancient Chinese tradition, almost all human intelligence, thinking and understanding, as well as emotion, intention and determination are associated with the Heart and Mind.

See also Thinking and Feeling, Thinking and Feeling — Unmediated Thinking and Feeling and Unmediated Thinking and Feeling, Feeling, Feeling — Unmediated Feeling, Unmediated Feeling.

心 (xīn) means heart; mind, intelligence; soul, spirit.


The wholeness or completeness of a given entity. It represents the selfhood of every being in the universe. Integrity may also have a moral dimension in the sense of adherence to a set of values (Mair).

The most valuable ways of getting the most from our personal lives as members of a thriving community in relation to a common Purpose; a characterisation of the most valuable relationship between leader and followers including mutual compassion, mutual respect, involvement and participatory agency (Ames & Hall).

The Chinese sign contains the signs for “walking”, “movement” or “behaviour”; “an eye looking straight ahead”, and “heart-and-mind”; we would call it walking the narrow road of righteousness.

德 (dé) means integrity, character; effectiveness, efficacy; charisma; ethics;
excellence, goodness; inner potency; kind, kindness; morality, power;
virtue, virtuosity.

善 (shàn) means good, virtuous, charitable, kind.


欲 (yù) means intend; desire, want, long for. See also Intent — Respectful Intent and Respectful Intent.

Intent — Respectful Intent

A Correlative Pair; see Intent and Respectful Intent.

John Boyd

Born January 23, 1927, died March 9, 1997. US Air Force fighter pilot, Pentagon consultant and innovative strategist; inspired by Sun Tzu. His strategic theories — including the OODA loop — have been highly influential in the military, sports, business, and litigation fields, e. g. the doctrine of maneuver warfare adopted by the US Marine Corps and the Agile movement in business.


Knowledge dependent upon the assumption that there is an unchanging reality behind appearance. Assumptions include rules of thumb, habits of mind and action, established customs, fixed standards, received methods, stipulated concepts and categories, commandments, principles, laws of nature, conventions. Having stored past experience and organised it in terms of fixed standards or principles, we then recall, anticipate, and participate in a world patterned by these discriminations (Ames & Hall).

See also Knowledge — Unprincipled Knowledge and Unprincipled Knowledge.

知 (zhī) means knowledge, perception, comprehension, wisdom, awareness, understanding.

Knowledge — Unprincipled Knowledge

A Correlative Pair; see Knowledge and Unprincipled Knowledge.


Naming with fixed references is a way of making distinctions in order to function effectively that can distort the way in which we understand the world by institutionalising and enforce an overly static vision of the world, and in doing so, deprive both language and life of their creative possibilities (Ames & Hall).

See also Label — Label without Fixed Reference and Label without Fixed Reference.

The Chinese character 名 (míng) is constructed from the elements for 夕 (x ̄ı) “crescent moon” and 口 (kˇou) “mouth”, so combined “say one’s own name to identify oneself in the dark”, hence “label” or “name”.

名 (míng) means label, labelling, name, naming, noun, place, famous, noted, distinguished, rank, title, position.

Label — Label without Fixed Reference

A Correlative Pair, see Label and Label without Fixed Reference.

Label without Fixed Reference

A way of labelling or naming without assigning fixed references. It is dependent upon an awareness of the indeterminate aspects of things. The ongoing Shaping of experiences requires a degree of imagination and creative projection that does not reference the world as it is, but anticipates what it might become. Labeling or naming that does not arrest or control; labeling or naming that appreciates rather than depreciates a situation (Ames & Hall).

See also Label and Label — Label without Fixed Reference.

無名 (wúmíng) means without fixed reference, nameless, obscure, unnamed, anonymous, unsigned.


A description of the Environment including positions, distances, space and obstacles (Wardley).

Lao Tzu

Born 6th century BC, died 6th century BC. Chinese sage, philosopher and writer. Lao Tzu (“Old Master”, Lǎozǐ 老子) is traditionally credited as the author of Tao Te Ching.


A set of actions, decisions, choices and Gameplays based on Purpose, Landscape, Climate, Doctrine and Capabilities — guided by knowledge, trust, compassion, courage and fairness (Sun Tzu).

The authority of leaders is measured by their Success in drawing the hands and hearts of people together to realise common goodness (Ames & Hall).

Leadership is the capacity of a human community to shape its future and
to sustain the significant processes of change required to do so (Senge).

“Leaderless leadership” is a different form, away from an archetype of heroic leader. It could be many, transient or even a different role — more nurturing / gardening / servant — concept. It’s one where it becomes difficult to identify who the leader is … The leader is transitory i.e. it’s constantly changing. You can’t say “this person is the leader” as it’ll vary from moment to moment according to the situation we find ourselves in. (Wardley, swardley).

Leadership is beyond what managers or people in formal leadership roles do: it is a service provided by — potentially all — people in the Organisation.

The Chinese character 聖 (shèng) consists of two characters: 耳 (ěr) which means “ear” or “to listen” and the character 口 (kǒu) which means “mouth” or “to speak” which indicates that the legitimacy and power of leaders are not God-given but achieved via talking and listening to people, sharing their visions with others and taking their views into account (Nonaka & Zhu).

The Chinese character 君 (jūn) consists of two characters: 尹 (yǐn) which means “to oversee”, “manage”, “order” or “regulate” and 口 (kǒu) which means “to talk”, “express” or “persuade”. The Chinese character 群 (qún) which means “to gather” or “be together” combines 君 (jūn) with the character for “sheep” 羊 (yáng). The implication is a person gathering people, acting together with and leading them.

聖 (shèng) means leader; sage; master and is related to sensitivity and wisdom.

君 (jūn) means leader; ruler; monarch, lord; gentleman.

君子 (jūnzǐ) means leader; exemplary person; nobleman, person of noble character.

Military Strategy

See Strategy.


A mirror accepts whatever is presented to it without interpretation, judgment, or desire. A mirror applies no interpretations; it simply reflects any new image put before it. A mirror makes no judgments on rightness or wrongness; it impartially reflects a child killed or a child saved. A mirror possesses no desire to pursue or to grasp what passes before it; it just lets desirable objects come before it and then pass away. Mirrors accept; they do not evaluate or cling or seek (Yearley).


The quantity of motion of a body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity in a particular direction.

An abstract field formed by tangible factors such as equipment and logistics and intangible factors such as timing and psychology that constantly shifts according to what is happening in the Environment; making the most of favourable conditions and tilting the scales in our favour (Ames).

Momentum of a particular situation is changing as a consequence of shifting conditions. It is as if we were placing weights along a beam whose balance point is always in motion. From assessments and foreknowledge, the fulcrum is more easily found (Denma).

Momentum is like looking at a chessboard: the effectiveness of a position is read in terms of the relative power of certain pieces, the strength of their Setup, their relationship to the opponent and also their potential to turn into something else. Add the particular psychological disposition of the opponent. All these are aspects of momentum. They are analytically distinguishable and a chess players sees them all at once. The world is more complex than multi-dimensional chess (Denma).

The favorite game in China, however, is go (wéi qí, 圍棋), the oldest board game still being played, dating from before 500 BC. Chess is about total victory, checkmate, to put the opposing king in a position where he cannot move without being destroyed, whereas go is about surrounding your opponent, i. e. strategic encirclement. In chess all the capabilities are fully visible at all times since all the pieces are on the board; in go, the players can introduce new pieces changing the strategic configuration. While the skillful chess player aims to eliminate the opponent’s pieces in a series of head-on clashes, a talented go player moves into empty spaces on the board, gradually migrating the strategic potential of the opponent’s pieces. Chess produces single-mindedness, go generates strategic flexibility (Kissinger).

勢 (shì) means momentum, authority, circumstances, conditions, energy, force, latent energy, influence, inherent power or dynamic of a situation, military strength, outward appearance, outward shape, patterns of influence, positional advantage, potential, potential energy of the situation, power, situation, strategic advantage, strategic advantage within a particular configuration of space and time, strategic configuration of power, tactical power, tendency, trend.

Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms)

Behaviours that seek to optimise relationships through collaborative actions that, in the absence of coercion, enable one to make the most of any situation (Ames & Hall); the art of making changes ‘natural’, workable, beneficial. Lao Tzu (and Chuang Tzu) encouraged engaging the world with proper intention, contextual knowledge, subtle competence and, above all, consequential experimentation appropriate to situated particulars. They are a million miles away from thoughtless, mindless, intentless “strategies” (Nonaka & Zhu).

  • Action without Pressure and Control, 無為 (wúwéi)
  • Label without Fixed References, 無名 (wúmíng)
  • Respectful Intent, or Desire without Object, 無欲 (wúyù)
  • Serve without Interfering, 無事(wúshí)
  • Strive without Competing, 無爭 (wúzhēng)
  • Unmediated Feeling, 無情 (wúqíng)
  • Unmediated Thinking and Feeling, 無心 (wúxīn)
  • Unprincipled Knowledge, 無知 (wúzhī)

See also Conditions — Consequences and Self-Organisation.


Something that is wanted or required from a larger System.


A “loop” consisting of four distinctive although connected and repeated
simultaneous activities — observation, orientation, decision and action,
invented by John Boyd.

Observation: sensing yourself and the world around you.

Orientation: a complex set of filters of genetic heritage, cultural predispositions, personal experience and knowledge, and, analyses and synthesis in order to create new capabilities to deal with unfamiliar phenomena or unforeseen change.

Decision: a review of alternative courses of action and the selection of the preferred course as a hypothesis to be tested.

Action: testing the decision selected through an experiment.


A group of people with a particular Purpose and Doctrine.


Common outlook to encourage initiative yet realize superior intent in pursuit of a vision.

The most important part of the OODA Loop.

An interactive process of many-sided implicit cross-referencing projections, empathies, correlations, and rejections that is shaped by and shapes the interplay of genetic heritage, cultural tradition, previous experiences, [the processes of analyses and synthesis,] and unfolding circumstances.

Disorientation: Mismatch between events one (seemingly) observes or
anticipates and events (or efforts) one must react or adapt to.


A higher meaning or reason that keeps people united, supporting each other without fear through Success and failure (Sun Tzu).

Dào (道) is composed of two elements: “foot”, “moving” or “leading through”, and, “head” (hair and eye together) carrying the meaning “to lead” in the sense of to give direction, so combined, “to give direction to your steps”, “to give direction to life”, hence “purpose”.

道 (dào) means purpose, to give direction; guiding a river to prevent it from flooding the banks (one of the earliest usages) (Sterckx); path, road, way; commands, guide, method, principle, steps in a process; morality, reason, truth; say, speak, talk, tell, verbalise; courses in a meal.


The capability of being Resilient.


The characteristics of a System capable of coping with a wide variety of physical extremes with the entire System rapidly adapting to a changing Environment in order to exist (Holling); see also Ecological Resilience, Engineering Resilience, Fluid, Fragile and Robust.

Respectful Intent

Deferential or respectful intention. A desire shaped not by a desire to own, control or consume, but by a desire simply to celebrate and to enjoy; objectless desire. See also Intent, Intent — Respectful intent and
Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms).

無欲 (wúyù) means respectful intention; desire without an object; unselfish; disinterested; unavaricious, free of avarice.


The characteristics of a system with a broader range of physical constraints
that it can cope with, although only able to cope with expected events.

See also Fluid, Fragile and Resilient.


Organisation of oneself or itself, often in relation to Purpose. Spontaneity thus conceived entails both self-creativity and co-creativity. Spontaneous social and political order emerges under non-coercive actions by effective leaders (Ames & Hall).

See also Conditions — Consequences and Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms)

自然 (zìrán) means self-organisation, spontaneity; nature, natural, naturally


The ability to sense things as they are — mirroring — without upsetting our hearts and minds — helping us to promote the flourishing of our world (Ames & Hall).

See also Unprincipled Knowledge.

明 (míng) means sensitivity, acuity, brilliance, enlightened action.


Going about your business or serving Stakeholders in fulfilling purpose.

See also Serve — Serve without Interfering and Serve without Interfering.

事 (shí) means (do) business; to serve; affair, matter; thing; fact; accident, incident.

Serve — Serve without Interfering

A Correlative Pair; see Serve and Serve without Interfering.

Serve without Interfering

Going about your business serving Stakeholders — without interference and without coercion.

無事(wúshí) means serving without interfering; safety; peace; quietness.


The arrangement of an Organisation or a part of an Organisation and the Capabilities and behaviours of its people. A setup can be

  • visible: consisting of factors that can be observed, e.g. organisation charts;
  • invisible: consisting of unobservable factors, e.g. informal networks.

It is possible to understand the visible setup without understanding the invisible setup.

See also Formless and Formless — Setup.

形 (xíng) means setup, (military) deployment, disposition (of force), form, formation, manifestation, patterns, positioning, shape, system.


See Yin; see also Sunny.


Influencing Competition in order to erode their Resilience by hiding intentions, creating false impressions, and, unsettling Competition to discover a potential advantage, encourage its impetus, push it to the extreme to get them into a weak position (or get them to get into a weak position by themselves) before exploiting the impetus when it reaches the tipping point, i.e. creating the conditions for Success before Engagement starts (Yuen).

Also, influencing customers and other Stakeholders in order to succeed together, e.g. by positively surprising them.

詭 (guǐ) means anomaly, bluff, concealment, confusion, cunning, deception, deceit, delusion, dissimulation, distraction, feint, illusion, lie, manipulation, oddity, paradox, weirdness.

Simon Wardley

Born 1968. British inventor of Wardley Mapping, business strategist, industry and technology mapper, researcher and former CEO (swardley).

Situational Awareness

The level of understanding of the environment (Wardley). The perception of environmental elements and events concerning time or space, the com-
prehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status (Endsley).

High situational awareness comes from skilful use of the OODA Loop, e. g.
through Wardley Mapping.


A person or Organisation who can affect or is affected by the fulfilment of the Organisation’s Purpose, e.g. a customer of products and services that the Organisation provides, people in the Organisation, suppliers and partners to the Organisation, owners and other financiers of the Organisation, trade associations, standardisation bodies, trade unions, people and communities in the society where the Organisation operates, and, other Organisations including Competitors (Freeman).


Doing strategy by means of the correlative pair strategy development — strategy deployment including devising Gameplays.


Governed by Sun Tzu’s five fundamental factors: Purpose, Landscape, Climate, Doctrine and Leadership.

The art of manipulating an environment to gain a desirable outcome (Wardley).

The essence of strategy is to force or persuade those who are hostile or unsympathetic to act differently than their current intentions; it is about getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. It is the art of creating power (Freedman).

Individuals, teams or Organisations fulfilling their Purpose in situations outside their direct control, sometimes engaging with others desiring the same thing — consisting of the intricate interplay of the Correlative Pair Strategy Development and Strategy Deployment (Schön).

Strategy Deployment

Making Strategy happen by everyone everywhere in the Organisation taking initiatives, decisions and actions in a Harmonised direction.

Strategy Development

Preparing Strategy by making choices for a Harmonised direction for the Organisation based on regular assessments of Stakeholders’ Needs and the Organisation’s Purpose (Schön).


A condition of high value in a sense beyond the physical, e.g. a well-defended position, or, a poorly defended position where the Organisation has an influential Purpose and skilled Leadership.

See also Strength — Weakness and Weakness.

實 (shí) means strength, brave, concentrated, energy abundance, full, many, prepared, relaxed, solid, strong, substantial, well-nourished, well-ordered.

Strength — Weakness

A Correlative Pair used in Strategy Deployment and Engagement together with Setup and Shaping, e.g. causing Competition to see our Strengths as Weaknesses and our Weaknesses as Strengths, converting Competition’s Strengths into Weaknesses, being fully aware of Competition’s Weaknesses and using this to strengthen our own Setup.

See also Strength and Weakness.


爭 (zhēng) means strive for, vie for; argue, debate, dispute; fight; contend.

See also Strive — Strive without Competing and Strive without Competing.

Strive — Strive Without Competing

A Correlative Pair; see Strive and Strive without Competing.

Strive Without Competing

無爭 (wúzhēng) means striving without competing.

See also Strive and Strive — Strive without Competing.


Fulfilling your Purpose together with your Stakeholders.

Sun Tzu

Born c.544 BC, died c.496 BC. Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher. Sun Tzu (“Master Sun”, Sūn Zǐ, 孫子) is traditionally credited as the author of The Art of War.


See Yang; see also Shady.


奇 (qí) means crafty, extraordinary, indirect, oblique, odd, rare, strange, surprise, unique, unorthodox, weird, wonderful.

See also Expected and Expected — Surprise.


A regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. A whole which is defined by its function in a larger system of which it’s a part. Every system is contained in a larger system. Its role or function in that system or the service it provides is what defines it. For a system to perform its function it has essential parts. A system is not the sum of its parts, it is the product of their interactions (Ackoff).


Following Henricks:

The Tao resembles an untended and uncared-for (“uncultivated”) field, and the varieties of wildflowers that grow in such a field represent everything in the world. Were you to go to such a field in the winter, you would see only brown soil or white snow. The field appears to be one in essence, undifferentiated, and “empty” of all forms of life. Nonetheless, should you return to that field in May or June, you would discover that a marvellous transformation had occurred, the field now being filled with all kinds of wildflowers. There are, as it were, “ten thousand” different varieties of flowers, with each species (dandelions, nightshade, chickory, etc.) and each individual in each of the species being somehow unique in colour and shape. And you now know that what had appeared to be devoid of life in the winter was in fact a very fecund womb, containing within itself in its oneness the seeds and roots of all different things.

Moreover, the work of the field does not end with springtime creation. For the field continues throughout the summer to care for and nourish each of its “children”, supplying them with the water and nutrients that are vital for life. And in this nurturing work, the field cares for all of the flowers without discrimination, and it takes no credit for all that it does. The brown soil is always in the background and “unseen”, our eyes being dazzled by the colours and forms of the flowers. Finally, the field accomplishes all that it does “without coercion” (wuwei); that is to say, we never see the soil actively doing anything; all that happens seems to happen on its own “by nature”.

For any individual flower … to be what it can be — for a sunflower to realise its “sunflowerness”, its genetic makeup, and … to live out its natural lifespan (which varies with wildflowers from species to species), there is only one requirement that must be met — it must keep its roots firmly planted in the soil.

As the Tao is to everything in the world the leaders are to their people. Skilled leaders work to make it possible that all people will grow to maturity in good health and will feel free to be who or what by nature they are, yet they claim no credit for all that they do.

See also Taoism, Integrity and Purpose.

Tao Te Ching

A Chinese classic text (Dàodé Jīng 道德經) dating from the 6th century BC attributed to the Chinese sage and philosopher Lao Tzu. It is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. It also strongly influenced other schools of Chinese philosophy and religion, including Legalism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, in particular Zen Buddhism.

It supplies practical advice for making one’s way in the world wisely
without forced interference doing things naturally (Nonaka & Zhu).


A combination of tradition, religion, philosophy and practical wisdom for living and leading Effectively in Harmony with Purpose — avoiding pressure and control; see also Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms).

Being human is to act in the world. The purpose of mastering Tao is to cope wisely with life problems (Nonaka & Zhu).

Tao is made in the walking of it (Chuang Tzu).

Thinking and Feeling

Using your Heart and Mind to make sense of the universe. The mind cannot be divorced from the heart. The cognitive is inseparable from the affective; there are no rational thoughts devoid of feeling, nor any raw feelings altogether lacking in cognitive content (Ames & Hall).

Thinking and Feeling — Unmediated Thinking and Feeling

A Correlative Pair; see Thinking and Feeling, Unmediated Thinking and Feeling and Heart and Mind.

Unmediated Feeling

無情 (wúqíng) means unmediated feeling; pitiless, ruthless, merciless, heartless.

See Thinking and Feeling, Thinking and Feeling — Unmediated Thinking and Feeling, Feeling — Unmediated Feeling and Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms).

Unmediated Thinking and Feeling

無心 (wúxīn) means unmediated thinking and feeling; unintentionally; innocence.

See also Thinking and Feeling, Thinking and Feeling — Unmediated Thinking and Feeling; Feeling — Unmediated Feeling, Unmediated Feeling and Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms)

Unprincipled Knowledge

Knowledge without the assumption that there is an unchanging reality behind appearance, i.e. knowledge without fixed principles, categories and labels. The acceptance of the world on its own terms without recourse to rules of discrimination that separate one sort of thing from another. This type of knowledge gives the ability to mirror the world at each moment in a way that is undetermined by the shape of a world that has passed away, or by anticipations of a world yet to come (Ames & Hall).

See also Knowledge, Knowledge — Unprincipled Knowledge, Sensitivity and Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms).

無知 (wúzhī) means unprincipled knowledge; innocence; ignorance.


See Stakeholder.

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA)

An acronym coined by the US military and adopted by a wide range of organisations, including everything from for-profit corporations to universities, to describe certain conditions and situations in the world and the challenges those pose.

Volatile: the nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.

Uncertain: the lack of predictability and the prospects for surprise.

Complex: the multiplex of forces and dependencies and the confusion that surround an organisation.

Ambiguous: the haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the
mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion

Wardley Mapping

A visual method for exploring and communicating strategy in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) environments invented by Simon Wardley (swardley). It helps achieve a high level of Situational Awareness.


Water is not fixed in any definite aspect, never immobilised in any particular place. It is the least thinglike of things — the most alive, the most alert.

The Chinese tradition expresses admiration for the continuous flow that so resembles the great process of the world, the source of which is inexhaustible since its course never stops proceeding, water represents effectiveness.

The uninterrupted flow of variance, so well illustrated by the course of flowing water, is regarded as constituting the very course of reality (Jullien).


A condition of very limited value in a sense beyond the physical, e. g. a poorly defended position, or, a well-defended position where the Organisation lacks legitimate purpose and Skilled Leadership.

虛 (xū) means weakness, dispersed, disorderly, empty, energy exhaustion, exhausted, fearful, few, hollow, hungry, insubstantial, unprepared, vulnerable. See also Strength and Strength — Weakness.


All that exists under heaven or between the ground and the sky. See also Climate.

天 (tiān) means world, universe; nature; sky, heaven (non-religious).


See Natural Collaboration without Pressure and Control (Wu-Forms).


陽 (yáng) means positive, active, male; sun; open, overt; originally: sunny side (of a mountain). Characterised as fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, active. Associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity, daytime. See also Yin and Yin — Yang.


陰 (yīn) means negative, passive, female; moon; covert, concealed, hidden; negative; originally: shady side (of a mountain). Characterised as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, passive. Associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, night time. See also Yang and Yin — Yang.

Yin — Yang

A fundamental Correlative Pair consisting of two opposing forces into which Energy divides and whose fusion in physical matter brings the world into being; every phenomenon, every process, is viewed as a particular blend of these two forces. Since yin — yang was originally derived from observations of nature, they offer a way of describing the interactions of natural physical forces. Yin — yang can be thought of as complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic System in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. Because of this, yin — yang can also deal with biological Systems like the human body and social Systems like Organisations and Engagements between Organisations like war and business. See also Yang and Yin.

Photo: © Adobe

The Art of Leadership: All Parts

Contents: A very short summary of all parts
Introduction: How to make a difference

Glossary: Explanation of key terms
Acknowledgements: Standing on the shoulders of giants
Sources: Where to learn more
Other reading formats: Hardcover, paperback and PDF



Erik Schön

From hacker, software researcher, system engineer to leader, executive, strategizer. Writer: #ArtOfChange #ArtOfLeadership #ArtOfStrategy http://yokosopress.se