Sun Tzu’s The Art of War was written in the 5th century BC. It’s since been translated into many languages, and is used not just for warfare tactics, but also corporate interactions, sports, business relationships, and many other disciplines that require strategy and tact.
Once in awhile I run across a quote that seems useful for the QA space too. In some ways, software testing is a little like warfare. We’re fighting buggy code, tight deadlines, lack of resources or irritable co-workers.
So it might behoove us to see what wisdom we can glean from Sun Tzu as applied to The Art of Test.
Following are a sample of quotes taken from the book, along with their parallels to testing. A larger bank of quotes can be found here.
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
“There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.”
“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”
“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
“When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.”
“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
“Who wishes to fight must first count the cost”
“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it. ”
“Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots.”
“Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.”
“By reinforcing every part, he weakens every part.”
“If you fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; where as death is certain if you cling to your corner”
“The general who does not advance to seek glory, or does not withdraw to avoid punishment, but cares for only the people’s security and promotes the people’s interests, is the nation’s treasure.”
“You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.”
“If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst. [One may know the condition of a whole army from the behavior of a single man.]”
You know what, I had to delete like 50 more quotes because I’m kinda tired of typing 🙂
There are lots of other abstract ideas that can come from The Art of War, and I encourage you to find where quotes can apply to your work.
Go forth and conquer!