In a speech to the recent Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, Army GEN Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reached a conclusion that could have come straight out of Boyd:
In the end, said Dempsey, “our best hedge against degraded environments is mission command and adaptive leadership” — the ability of leaders at all levels to think for themselves and find a new way to achieve the objective without waiting for orders. That’s a cultural challenge for the military given a long-established preference for detailed, centralized planning, and modern networks that give top commanders constant computer connectivity to their subordinates only makes micromanagement easier. [From: “Humans, Not Hardware, Will Get Military Through Tough Budget Times: Dempsey,” By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., AOL Defense, Strategy & Policy, May 17, 2012]
“Mission command” is a common translation of Auftragstaktik, and some of you may recall “adaptive leadership” from Don Vandergriff’s book Raising the Bar.
One way to think of it is that Auftragstaktik makes strong use of the implicit guidance and control feed from orientation directly to action. If you become too explicit, you’ll defeat the entire idea.
On the other hand, adaptive leadership requires the ability to rapidly size up the unfolding situation and get the organization going in a way to influence it. The fact that it is “adaptive” means that you aren’t just using pre-programmed responses but have gray matter engaged. If you think about it, that’s the classic observe-orient-decide-act pattern, employed to quickly come up with and test new actions on the fly (that is, while under fire), as Boyd described in Conceptual Spiral.
Put them together, you have Boyd’s OODA “loop” sketch from The Essence of Winning and Losing.
The concept of mission control + adaptive leadership harmonizes well with Boyd’s idea of leadership: “implies the art of inspiring people to enthusiastically take action toward the achievement of uncommon goals.” [Organic Design, 37]