A Boyd Potpourri

I’ve had a long, if not particularly distinguished, involvement in sales.  Starting with Fuller Brush over a college summer, then with professional services — beltway bandit stuff — domestic and foreign military aircraft, and public relations.  Along the way, I’ve picked up great respect for people who can sell for a living; sort of consider them the infantry of the business world.

So I was delighted when sales guru Anthony Iannarino asked if I’d do a podcast on John Boyd and applications of his strategies to business.  I’ve known Anthony for a while, and can attest to his knowledge of Boyd, so I hope you enjoy our session: Chet Richards on Strategy, Morale, and Agility in Warfare and Business – Episode #65.

In addition to the books that Anthony recommends at the bottom of his post, I’d also recommend the three papers from my section of the Articles page: “Boyd’s Real OODA Loop,” “John Boyd, Conceptual Spiral, and the meaning of life,” and “All By Ourselves.”  These amplify some of the points in Certain to Win and include research that I’ve done since that book was published.

Anthony also includes a link to “LKCE15,” LeanKanban Central Europe 2015 in Munich last November. Click on “Videos.”  LeanKanban is a recent application of some of the ideas that underly lean production and maneuver warfare to the problems of software development. My suspicion is that LeanKanban philosophy, if not the specific techniques, will also improve throughput time, cost, and quality (simultaneously!) in other forms of white collar work. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, check out some of the material on LKCE15 and consider going to LKCE16 in Hamburg this fall.

You can download all of Boyd’s materials (for free) from our Articles page.

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3 thoughts on “A Boyd Potpourri

  1. Chet,

    I enjoyed the talk with Anthony very much. Sometimes I feel that we are very close to having these methods begin to enjoy wider acceptance. Years ago, I posited the theory that a lot of the Colonel’s work was essentially related to economics and the theory of constraints (see Goldrat) and hence his fascination with the Toyota production system. The Colonel seems to have preoccupied by the conservation of energy in all forms. So it comes as no surprise to me that since lean & kanban are similarly preoccupied with aspects of efficiency and making the most of the least, that we find some resonance between these two distinct but related areas of business interest.
    You mentioned, in passing during your discussion with Anthony, the Japanese concept of Hoshin Kanri, or “Policy Deployment”. Years ago, when I was working with the American Supplier Institute, (which, by the way, was where I first became acquainted with the Honda/Yamaha war) I was plowing through the backroom library and I found an interesting tract on Hoshin Kanri and how it worked as a method to align and harmonize organizational goals and actions through a process of negotiation (called catchball) between varying levels in an organization. This was in around 1985, so you can see that a lot of these concepts have been around for quite some time. This is another concept which finds a lot of resonance with Boyd’s work and his focus on human capital as being the most important building block of a winning organization.
    One of these days we have to weave all of these things together into a overall philosophy.

    Dean

  2. Dean,

    Thanks! Agree completely on the philosophy, but it may fall to the next generation.

    I had forgotten about “catchball.” The process of negotiation, of course, is also central to the Schwerpunkt / Auftragstaktik concept, but I don’t know enough about how hoshin kanri actually works in mature TPS organizations to make a comparison.

    Chet

  3. All Observations
    of the External World are Filtered Through the
    Cognitive Apparatus
    of the Observer
    … and therefore …
    Observations
    Cannot
    be Separated From the Various Interior Mental Processes of Each Observer
    Implication
    Any Description of a Complex Reality Can Be Viewed
    Through a Variety of Mental Concepts that Individuals & Groups Use to Represent Observed Reality
    (i.e., the Multitude of
    Different Perspectives
    Which Make Up One’s Mental
    Orientation
    ._________________________________
    -Thinking about why OODAs fail.
    As in the second Gulf War mis-adventure.
    Those in the decision making cycle, have a tainted
    perspective, pre-concieved agenda, and goals,
    that are not based in reality. They are unable to
    adapt their goals and ambitions to empirical
    reality. Poor decisions, and mistakes in judgement compounds
    with each iteration of the loop.
    Max

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