Masterpieces are never finished

Just abandoned (attributed to Leonardo da Vinci).

I’m not claiming that the new version of “Boyd’s Real OODA Loop” is a masterpiece, although I think it’s pretty good, but I am abandoning it for now, with the exception of an occasional correction or brilliant rephrasing.  It’s available from the Articles page.

It’s a major rework: pretty much every paragraph has seen some TLC, and entire sections have been moved around.  I added a new section on whether faster is always better and also threw in quotes from L. David Marquet and the Buddha.

By the way, if you’re interested in this sort of stuff, check out the Corporate Rebels web site,, and follow them on Twitter @corp-rebels

2 thoughts on “Masterpieces are never finished

  1. my periodic two bits:

    From 1846 Elements of Military Art and Science, Halleck (free ebook),

    loc5019-20: A rapid coup d’oeil prompt decision, active movements, are as indispensable as sound judgment; for the general must see, and decide, and act, all in the same instant.

    Reasonably claim that Boyd took “see, decide, act” and turns it into his OODA-loop, “observe, orient, decide, and act”. In briefings Boyd would talk about constantly observing from every possible facet (as countermeasure to orientation bias) … i.e. potential rigid, kneejerk response from something out of the past,

    Note that real OODA-loop doesn’t happen sequentially … but all parts are happening simultaneously and continuously

    W/o orientation, it was not possible to consider the issue of orientation bias. With orientation it is possible to consider learning, wisdom, and understanding.

  2. Hi Lynn — thanks!

    Halleck? That was probably the most influential book of the pre-Civil War American military, although it doesn’t appear in Boyd’s accession list. However, what he wrote and how he acted on the battlefield bear little resemblance. Down here in the South, he’s one of our favorite Yankee generals (along with McClellan). What Beauregard did to him at Corinth remains a classic study of deception.

    I do know that Boyd played around with other versions of the “loop,’ but Spinney recalls it originally as Orient-Decide-Act and that Boyd later added “Observe.” Decision cycles have been around since forever, but as models of effective action, they all suffer from the problems noted by Storr and Klein that I mention in my paper.


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