As in “bill of material.” The parts list.

In Chart 141, Boyd presents his synthesis, outlining a solution to the problems mentioned on chart 2:

  • To make manifest the nature of moral-mental-physical conflict
  • To discern a pattern for successful operations
  • To help generalize tactics and strategy
  • To find a basis for grand strategy
  • To unveil the character of conflict, survival, and conquest

The idea is to look around in other areas (“domains”), including previous solutions, pick out concepts, and then recombine them to create a new model of reality, a “snowmobile.”  The idea wasn’t new to Boyd, of course. Taiichi Ohno, for example, wrote that the backbone of the Toyota Production System came from power looms and American supermarkets.

This illustrates one of the subtleties of this approach: How many auto industry execs had walked through American supermarkets and taken home nothing but groceries?

As Boyd put it in “Destruction and Creation”:

It is important to note that the crucial or key step that permits this creative induction is the separation of the particulars from their previous domains by the destructive deduction. Without this unstructuring, the creation of a new structure cannot proceed—since the bits and pieces are still tied together as meaning within unchallenged domains or concepts.

Somehow, Ohno was able to pick out a crucial concept from supermarkets, as Boyd would say, to “shatter the American supermarket” domain, in such a way that the concept of pull/JIT stood revealed.

There’s no sign that Boyd ever tried to shatter the supermarket domain or would have found anything useful there, even if he had.

With that in mind, you might look back over the analytical section of Patterns, roughly pages 2 – 125, and watch as Boyd shatters domains and picks out pieces. Not that any of these pieces will go into any of your snowmobiles, although they might, but it’s the process that’s instructive.

We’ll do more in another post, but for now, look at chart 13. Here are a few of the pieces he finds when he shatters Sun Tzu:

  • Harmony and trust
  • Justice and well being
  • Inscrutability and enigma
  • Deception and subversion
  • Rapidity and fluidity
  • Dispersion and concentration
  • Surprise and shock

He puts these into a parts bin labeled “key asymmetries.” By the way, even as he was picking out pieces, he was starting to play with them, to see how they could be made to fit together. So it wasn’t “deception” and “subversion” but “deception and subversion.” Another point: In each pair, the two elements seem similar and even appear to reinforce each other. Except “dispersion and concentration,” which seem like opposites. Did it just turn out this way?

Precious little in Boyd, though, can be laid to chance.

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