Interview: What’s Boyd all about?

The organizers of LeanKanban Central Europe 2015 have posted an interview I did with Arne Roock, who, incidentally, will also be giving a presentation at the conference.

You can download the PDF from their site.

If you’ve never seen the Boyd material, I’m going to be presenting a fair amount of it, including about 100 pages of Patterns of Conflict and including slides from all the other briefings of the Discourse on Winning and Losing, during my tutorial.

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14 thoughts on “Interview: What’s Boyd all about?

  1. In your interview, which by the way is excellent, you mention “accurate and shared orientation” as a way to create Boyd’s “common implicit orientation. Have you considered adding “precision” to accurate and shared. It may represent one bridge too far (and managers will go to sleep too soon), considered as something that stifles creativity and initiative, or just a no-brainer (people just assume we all have to be precise in maintaining both accuracy and sharing.
    But something doesn’t have to be precise to be accurate and we can share things inside and outside of boundaries. Precision, while not needed in either accuracy or sharing, has good qualities and does tend to help maintain accuracy and things fit together easier, connect easier and so things are easier to share when we include precision in our orientation.
    I should say, not as a deal-killer, but as a part of the trilogy of: accuracy, precision and sharing that should be found within every common implicit orientation.
    Or do you think that a common implicit orientation doesn’t need to be precise? Which I can see, but wonder if the effort in creating a common implicit orientation would be a failure without precision in the loop, i.e. it is eventually going to come around within the loop and bite you where the sun doesn’t shine.

    • Larry,

      Thanks — interesting idea. Let me think about it. Boyd did note (in Destruction & Creation) that attempting to observe with greater and greater precision will eventually lead to uncertainty in other areas. If the area is physics, then you get the well-known uncertainty principle. If it’s observing the behavior of groups, then it could be the idea that observing a situation changes it — as when the commander walks in the room — or that in the time needed for more precision, the situation changes. Or something else.

      My guess, and this will take a lot more thought, is that for the purpose of Einheit, common and accurate is enough.

      • “… for the purpose of Einheit, common and accurate is enough.”
        And maybe Einheit is a degree of precision?

  2. Chet,

    I’m perplexed by something related directly to OODA.

    Thinking about this latest bombing indecent in Afghanistan, involving Doctors Without Borders.
    Boyd’s initial orientation and observation departure point might need some expansion.

    I suggest that there exists and there needs to be quantified state, that precedes,

    I further suggest that in this latest disaster, the powers that be, bypassed,
    observe. orient, and went from zero, straight to decide act, likely in a knee
    jerk panic.

    I put forth the example of Napoleons ambition to influence Russia, and his invasion.
    Conceived before, observe, orient, and with little or no appreciation for empirical

    I think it’s a scenario, we see, over and over, “like de ja Vue. all over again.

    What to call this stage, the step before observe orient ?
    Ambition ? Conception ? Is it emotionally driven ?

    • I am not sure this is open for debate, but I don’t think there is anything before Observe, except Harmonization. The simple reason for this is that it is hard to observe something in harmony with all elements within any environment. It tends to be that “stuff” out-of-place is more noticeable than something in place.
      Of course there is something called Change Blindness, which means not many notice the change, but to those that do see change, it comes as a revelation.
      Otherwise life goes on as it is.
      So to answer your question, yes there is a chance that someone can become so inharmony with something that Act comes first. In other words, a leadership comes to believe that they are so intune with the environment observed that whatever they “do” is ok. With so many End-Timers with in the leadership of the Republican Party, it is a small wonder why things are as they are.
      So it becomes fire–aim, only that the target is so well defined (by the “parties” in leadership) as to not to be Observed nor needing anymore Orientation to move into Decision-making, i.e. game over.
      I think the internet helps this function greatly, in its ability to connect with all kinds of nuts.
      After all, the World Wide Web was built with the intention of connecting (even after all the “bombs” went off) and acting.
      My guess is that it is still fulfilling that function admirably.
      Connection is a self-targeting process.

    • Hi Max,

      Interesting. Here’s an alternative interpretation: Recall that Boyd’s definition of “orientation” considers it as a dynamic process. I think what you’re describing is an orientation that’s locked, that is, staying in a very narrow envelope. Boyd would also say that it’s locked into one “pattern of actions and ideas” and can’t break out.


  3. I think the empirical evidence is clear. In the hospital bombing indecent, the opposition was operating inside the US OODA loop and provoked disastrous action on the USAs part.
    Moreover, It dosn’t matter what kind of rationalization, or excuses you come up with, it’s a disaster for the USA in the court of world opinion, and most importantly, on the ground in Afghanistan. In a war that started in 2001.

      • It is not an unusual tactic, but it is one that the US is very familiar with, so there can’t be much surprises in this place and time. I am not sure what Max means that the war was started in 2001. The Homeland was attacked in 2001 by Saudi patriots, but wasn’t the war was started long before that?
        Maybe the question is, “by who?”

    • “I think the empirical evidence is clear. In the hospital bombing indecent, the opposition was operating inside the US OODA loop and provoked disastrous action on the USAs part.”
      I think what is clear is that the opposition was operating inside the US OODA loop when we went into Iraq, and that opposition came from Iran.
      Was the opposition (after all it is a civil war with two sides) operating inside the US OODA loop during the hospital bombing, and that opposition came from the Saudis, i.e Sunni side, I have a hard time believing it is so.
      We must have learned something since the invasion of Iraq, or are our military leaders just sheep, jumping off the same cliff?

  4. original “Team B” member

    He is a leading neoconservative.[4] As Deputy Secretary of Defense, he was “a major architect of President Bush’s Iraq policy and … its most hawkish advocate.”[5] In fact, “the Bush Doctrine was largely [his] handiwork.”

    team B
    advisers providing WMDs
    in the iran/iraq war
    were there with Bush1 for Iraq1. Sat. photo recon analyst warns that Iraq is marshaling forces for Kuwait invasion; administration says that Saddam told them he would do no such thing … administration proceeds to discredit the analyst. Analyst then warns that Iraq is marshaling forces for Saudi invasion … now the administration is forced to choose between Iraq and Saudi.
    and still there with Bush2 for Iraq2 fabricate WMD justification. cousin of the white house chief of staff Card … was dealing with the Iraqis at the UN and was given evidence that WMDs had been decommissioned, notifies her cousin, Powell and others; then gets locked up in military hospital

    Saddam learned from Iraq1 not to present easy targets for US air power … just melt away. Then from the law of unintended consequences, for Iraq2, they were told to bypass ammo dumps looking for WMDs … when they get around to going back, more than a million metric tons have evaporated. They then start seeing large artillery shell IEDs, even taking out Abram M1s

    they eventually find the decommissioned WMDs tracing back to US in the 80s … that information is classified for decade

    my son-in-law 1st tour was Fallujah 2004-2005 then 2nd tour was Baqubah 2007-2008 described as worse than Fallujah, in part because the enemy made use of what they had learned in Fallujah (administration was claiming that things had got a lot better so Baqubah didn’t get the coverage that Fallujah got)

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