Podcast with Jonathan Brown, Part II

As I’m sure you have been anxiously awaiting.  In the meantime, if you haven’t already, go check out Robert Bryce’s interview with Chuck Spinney.

Hello and welcome back to week 9 of the 12-part podcast series. Thanks again for such a positive response. ThisScreen Shot 2021-09-07 at 6.32.42 PM week we have the second part of the podcast with Chet Richards, author of Certain to Win and long-term friend collaborator with philosopher, John Boyd. We continue reading Boyd backwards as this makes it easier to apply his ideas to normal levels of competition (i.e., non-violent but competitive).

So, if you have yet to listen to part one, I suggest you go there first:  Part One.

In this podcast we will be focusing on Organic Design for Command and Control, Patterns of Conflict, and “Destruction and Creation,” and we explore how Chet has applied these ideas in his life. But first, we start with one final insight from Boyd’s Strategic Game of ? and ?

I expect this to be the longest podcast in the series. However, I think it’s worth it – not only for situations where you are stressed right now but worth it for a leadership team that is looking ahead and looking to create a more successful future. Next week, we will be back to an hour or so and the guest will blow your mind! Continue reading

Robert Bryce Interviews Chuck Spinney

A fascinating interview with one of John Boyd’s closest colleagues.

Power Hungry PodcastListen here: https://robertbryce.com/episode/franklin-chuck-spinney-author-of-the-defense-death-spiral/ Scroll down on that page for the transcript.  Chuck’s exegesis of Boyd’s “Destruction and Creation,” Evolutionary Epistemology, is available on our Articles page, along with a video of his presentation.

From his website:

Robert Bryce is a Texas-based author, journalist, film producer, and podcaster. He has been writing about energy, power, innovation, and politics for more than 30 years. His books include Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper and Power Hungry. Bryce is a research fellow at the Austin-based Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. His articles have appeared in a myriad of publications including Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. His sixth book, A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations, was published in 2020 by PublicAffairs. He is also the producer of a new feature-length documentary film: Juice: How Electricity Explains the World, which is available on iTunes, Amazon Prime, and numerous other streaming platforms.

BOOKS by Robert Bryce:


Podcast — Addendum

Jonathan has kindly provided the intro he wrote for his series, The Art and Science of Success. This is Episode 8:

This week (and next) we are speaking with long time friend and mentor, Chet Richards. Chet is the author of four books, the most famous (and relevant) is Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business. As many of you will know, John Boyd is the military philosopher whose work, ranging from how to win a war to how we can win in non-violent competitive situations, has had such an impact on our work and on the results we help people achieve.

Screen Shot 2021-09-07 at 6.32.42 PMIn this podcast, we look at Boyd’s body of work and, following advice from Chet, we read Boyd backwards. That is, we begin where Boyd finished – looking at how someone can win in life or, in Boyd’s words, how to generate vitality and growth and the essence of winning and losing. We then work our way back to look at how we need to adapt when the situation becomes increasingly challenging or contentious.

At first glance, it may not seem to have much to do with succeeding in the non-violent situations most of us face. However, I have found his work to be the most important work I have integrated into my work. Success in stressful situations does not come from bolting on a few extra steps to a philosophy of action designed for peaceful situations. Success comes from figuring out what works in the most stressful situations imaginable and then stripping the ideas back to suit peaceful situations. Then when the contention or conflict increases, your philosophy is returning to its most natural state. This can give you confidence that your ideas will stand the pressure placed upon them. So I encourage you to give this one a little time to sink in. Now more than ever, we are going to face tests to our philosophy of action.

Here’s the rough outline of our conversation.

00.00 Welcome and Introduction.

02.25 Who was John Boyd and and what did you do with him? (John’s military career, his work figuring what causes someone to win in a dogfight, all the way up to winning in battle).

06.00 Who can handle the fastest rate of change survives.

07.30 Fingertip Intuition (fingerspitzengefuhl) How mastery not resilience is the real key to success in challenging situations.

11.00 Why the Taliban won so quickly.

13.00 The moral (character and relations) is to the physical as three is to one – Napoleon.

15.00 Finding Boyd through Tom Peters – “General, you need to kill more pilots!” Why it’s important to read Boyd backwards.

17.00 The Essence of Winning and Losing. Intuition and the importance of orientation – situational awareness.

21.00 How can we make our under pressure reactions intuitive?

25.50 Boyd and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow.

27.30 The Conceptual Spiral – how to win through novelty and mismatches. A.k.a. how to do new stuff?

36.00 Why are mismatches (errors in our understanding or orientation) the most valuable thing to discover?

39.00 How does this relate to both sides of the COVID debate ignoring/shutting down the other?

41.00 Einheit – why mutual trust is essential in a stressful situation.

45.00 Speed and Initiative – what’s the difference and how do they interact?

54.45 Revelation – how to “build snowmobiles” that is how to generate new ideas from the parts of your old ones.

1.02.00 The Strategic Game of ? and ? (The Strategic Game of Isolation and Interaction)

1.06.00 Grand Strategy – how to design a strategy that attracts the neutrals. And the importance of moral isolation.

1.12. Thank you and Close.

New Podcast: Boyd From End to Beginning

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with a long-time friend and colleague, Jonathan Brown, to talk about John Boyd and discuss some of the major themes of John’s work.  To make it more interesting, Jonathan asked me to take the texts in reverse order, that is, starting with The Essence of Winning and Losing, then Conceptual Spiral, and continuing to “Destruction and Creation.”

The first week’s episode made it as far as Strategic Game. Next week’s podcast takes us through Organic Design, Patterns of Conflict, and finally to D&C.

Listen to Part I here: https://player.captivate.fm/episode/e8dab39e-7532-4752-b52f-c715e82150d3

how to survive

Pandemics. Mutating pandemics. Never ending campaigns followed by never ending counting. Rioting in the streets. Have a great idea for surviving (on our own terms, of course) in these stressful times?

By Artem Grinblat
Republished with permission from https://hackmd.io/@artemciy/how-to-survive


In order to survive – you want to want to survive.

13 Reasons Why” TV series is a good recipe: Baker films the reasons not to survive. Invert this. Make a list of reasons to survive. Keep working on them, make space, turn this into a project.

Look for unexpected ideas and inspirations in your past and the present. It might be something you very well know, and something you know nothing about, and things you had no time for or discarded.


Keep tabs on the enemy. If it’s a stress, make a file on it. See how you can exploit it.

To give an example, here are some notes on stress: it “drives all activity”; it’s a currency in “affect regulation”; it can be “your friend”; close encounters with the sources of it sometimes help; “stressors are information” (Taleb); “leadership with monitoring, rather than C&C, seems to be a better way to cope with the multi-faceted aspects of uncertainty, change, and stress” (Boyd); it’s a “fatigue of the body and mind under load” (Gary ‘Smiler’ Turner)”; it makes for a “perfect time for training”; managed, it’s akin to exercise.

In terms of Deliberate Practice – we aim at a richer representation of the subject.


We started with 13 Reasons Why. Then added some Hows. Now put up a What (or two).

Define the positive goal. Make a file on it. Draw it. Film. Find symbols pertaining to it. Keep it in focus.

If you don’t know the goal, leave a blank page to it. Find a temporary substitute. Work on it even without knowing it yet.

Having the goal is pertinent to survival.


Ask yourself: How these circumstances can help me towards the goal?

Whether something is construed as good or bad initially, chance is, there is an angle or a sequence that can catch the wind of it and propel you forward.

Make some space and time for catching the wind. Level it up to a habit or ritual.


Keep a pace that’s right for you. Allow the project to be around when next you need it. File and avoid the roadblocks. Put in the touches that would help you enjoy that work. Or turn it into a game. Look for cross-field opportunities, when another project can help towards your goal, or when working on your goal can help that other project as well.

Had enough stress for one day?

Pandemics. Mutating pandemics. Never ending campaigns followed by never ending counting. Rioting in the streets. Have a great idea for surviving (on our own terms, of course) in these stressful times? I thought I’d host a series of posts, and to get things started I’ve asked my wife for her ideas. For years, she used to walk off stress — miles a day. Since 2014, and a series of surgeries on her foot, however, she’s had to try other tactics. Please post your ideas in the comments, or if you need more room, send me a draft post.

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
– Lily Tomlin

My first step towards relaxing was to avoid anything which might cause stress. I started by thinking about what caused stress in my life. I began, as many of you did, by getting off social media. Another step I took was to reduce contact with certain family members and acquaintances who were causing me more stress than they were worth. Continue reading


My mom, Mildred Fern Ware Richards (1920 – 2020) recently passed away from complications of COVID-19. Although she became a centenarian, she did suffer from increasing dementia in her later years.  Other than her age, she had no known underlying conditions.

Here’s how we prefer to remember her, and how I think she would like for us to.  This picture is, I believe, from a New Years Eve party, 1959-1960, in Bayreuth, Germany. Dad was the commander of the 1st Recon Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment, then based at the nearby village of Bindlach.

LTC and Mrs G. C. Richards, Jr.

Here’s her obit:


Stay safe out there.

Ultra violence – the book

Back earlier this year, author Ian Michael serialized his new novel, Ultra Violence (Tales from Venus, Book 1), on the Famous Maximus web site.

His book is now out on Amazon, and if you’re at all a fan of alternative universe fiction — think Charles Stross or J. D. Horn (doesn’t have to be sci fi) — take a look at Michael’s new book. In coming years, you can say you helped discover him. Here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2VQP23p

Here’s my Amazon review:


This is a satisfying first novel in the alternative universe genre. The key to making such stories successful is that the alternative universe has to be logically consistent, given its ground rules, and all the characters must behave according to those rules. Otherwise, the author can dig themselves out of any predicament with a bit of magic. And after a while, who cares?

So imagine a universe pretty much like our own up until the mid 20th century. It’s somewhat more technologically advanced than ours, though. There are the same two political blocs, one in the East centered on the Soviet Union and Chinese, and one in the West around NATO. Each bloc has staked out and colonized one of the two nearest planets. The East went to Mars and the West to Venus. After suitable terraforming, citizens of each bloc stream to their respective colonies: “Terrans grew tired of their hellish lives in overcrowded, crime-ridden hive cities. They flooded to the other two planets, building powerful nations in their own right.”

Continue reading

An Orientation for IOHAI

Unlike “agility,” Boyd did define “orientation,” in Organic Design for Command and Control (1987).

Before giving his definition, he offered a preliminary thought, on page 13:

Orientation, seen as a result, represents images, views, or impressions of the world shaped by genetic heritage, cultural tradition, previous experiences, unfolding circumstances and the processes of analyses and synthesis. (Emphasis in original)

Sharp eyed readers will note that by adding “analyses and synthesis,” I’ve brought the definition up to his final version in The Essence of Winning and Losing (1996). I think what Boyd is doing here is trying to ease readers into his definition, which, as we shall see shortly is complex. He’s going to define it as a process, which suggests inputs and outputs. In the representation above, he’s describing the outputs. 

Continue reading