let a thousand flowers bloom

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A calque of Sinitic 百花齊放,百家爭鳴 ("let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend"), from various speeches made by Mao Zedong during the 1950s.


let a thousand flowers bloom

  1. Do not interfere with promising developments in their early stages.
    • 2002, Robert J. Sternberg, Todd I. Lubart, Defying the Crowd, page 1:
      It is probably safe to say that each year thousands of workers are victims of what might be called the “let a thousand flowers bloom” maneuver, formulated by Mao Tse-tung when he controlled the world's most populous country.
    • 2008, Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, page 195:
      There's no haggling over specs or schedules. It's simply: let a thousand flowers bloom (or 140,000 flowers and growing, to be more exact)
    • 2010, Damien McLoughlin, David A. Aaker, Strategic Market Management: Global Perspectives, page 268:
      One theory advanced by James Brian Quin, a strategy theorist, and others on how to find and develop successful new businesses is to 'let a thousand flowers bloom', tend those that thrive, and let the rest wither.
    • 2011, Michael Fullan, The Six Secrets of Change, page 12:
      But if you devolve power and resources to local entities—the “let a thousand flowers bloom” approach— you get uneven results.

Usage notes[edit]

  • As some usage shows, those knowing what happened to those who took Mao's encouragement of 1956 seriously view uses of this statement skeptically and may use it ironically.