Boyd’s OODA “Loop”: What and why?

As Frans Osinga pointed out in his 2006 examination of John Boyd’s philosophy of conflict, Science, strategy and war: The strategic theory of John Boyd, the OODA loop is the best known but probably most misunderstood aspect of Boyd’s body of work. Even today, it’s very common to see people describe the OODA loop as a loop. However, when Boyd finally got around to producing a “sketch” of the “loop” (his terms), it was, as I’m sure practically all readers of this blog know, something entirely different.

From “The Essence of Winning and Losing,” 1996.

Why? The reason is that the OODA “loop” is an answer to a specific problem. It is not, for example a model of decision making — in fact, it simply requires you to make implicit and explicit decisions and link them to actions, all the while experimenting and learning.

On November 30, I gave a lecture on this subject to the Swedish Defense University in Stockholm. My host, Johan Ivari, arranged for it to be recorded and made available on the University’s web site. They broke it into two parts:

Part 1 https://play.fhs.se/media/The+OODA-%E2%80%9Dloop%E2%80%9D+lecture+by+Chet+Richards+-+Part+1+-+Setting+the+scene./0_bkfn6gnx

Part 2 https://play.fhs.se/media/The+OODA-%E2%80%9Dloop%E2%80%9D+lecture+by+Chet+Richards+-+Part+2+-+John+Boyd%27s+real+OODA+%E2%80%9CLoop%E2%80%9D+/0_tkvhlxsh

I had a lot of fun with this, and the students asked some great questions. I hope you enjoy it!

By the way, check out some of the other interesting videos on their site.

Magic leadership video now live!

Kanban University has posted the video of my keynote, The Lost Arts of Leadership, and How to Get Them Back, from the Kanban Global Summit in San Diego in August.

Finally, the secret to great leadership is revealed. Shutterstock image.

A couple of points:

  • The speaker’s rostrum was on a platform about 18″ above the floor, and the audience was seated pretty close to it. It made for a dynamic speaking experience, but it also explains why I seem to be bent over a lot.
  • The presentation has several animations which in the interests of readability, the version that accompanies my video doesn’t capture. If you’d like to see them, please download the PDF edition on our Articles page (each stage of a build is a separate slide). Also, I’m using an Apple Pencil to underline, circle, draw arrows and the like. You’ll have to infer these.

There were a lot of interesting presentations. You can view them all on their Conference Archive and their YouTube channel. And don’t forget the helpful and entertaining set of annotations!

Enjoy!!

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

IOHAI

My co-editor, Chuck Spinney, and I have updated page 144 of Patterns of Conflict, the “Theme for Vitality and Growth.” The last full edition of Patterns carries a date of December 1986. Even after he quit issuing new editions of the briefing, however, Boyd continued to evolve these ideas, and in 1989, he changed page 144 in a major way.

Here is page 144 in the 1986 edition:

PatternsOfConflict IIAH 144 JPEG.001

What Boyd did was replace “adaptability” with “agility” and add “orientation.” IOHAI. Unfortunately, he did not produce a new edition of Patterns with a revised page 144, so we are left with the problem of definitions for the two new terms.

Agility

He replaced “adaptability” with “agility” because if all you do is adapt, you’re in “perpetual catch-up mode,” as he explained in a conversation we had in 1992. The other side has the initiative. This will not do. Continue reading

New interview

At: https://www.oodaloop.com/archive/2020/08/28/oodacast-chet-richards-on-john-boyd-and-applying-ooda-principles-to-the-business-world/?

I don’t know about you, but I find it vary painful to watch myself, particularly if I’m trying to speak extemporaneously.  For one thing, it’s too late to shout “Look at the green dot at the top of the screen!” Not to mention “Don’t talk so fast!” and “Quit mumbling!”

It gives you great respect for editors and for people who do this sort of thing well, like my two co-hosts, Matt Devost and Bob Gourley of OODA loop.

A couple of small corrections. When I was talking about my programs at the Pentagon, they included the F-14, F-15, Lightweight Fighter, and A-10, not the F-18 (which grew out of the LWF program several years after I left)*. And the magazine streaming service is Apple News+ not Amazon News+, which doesn’t exist, although I do stream music through Amazon Music Unlimited.

Skimming back over it, though, I think you’ll enjoy it. Probably not as bad as I first imagined, thanks again to my co-hosts.


*  I may have actually said “A-10.” I also had the F-5E. So much going on — it was a great time to be part of tactical air.