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.
I tend to think of “agility” as adaptability with a time dimension, that is, the ability to adapt more rapidly to new situations than can competitors or opponents. That may not, however, be the only or even a very good way to think about these concepts.
Here’s an alternative view:
AQ is hot right now – but is it the Adaptability Quotient or the Agility Quotient?
Founder and CEO, TeamMate AI
November 13, 2018
Originally published on LinkedIn. Reprinted with his kind permission
Throughout military history, there have been winners and losers. Some of the winners have found disproportionate success due to strategic brilliance; when examining their successes, we find a golden braid that links them all together. This braid is the foundation of an underlying philosophy that dictates how military forces can survive and thrive in hyper-competitive, chaotic, uncertain situations. Continue reading
Col Mike Wyly*, USMC, ret., was one of the principle architects behind the Marine Corps’ doctrine of maneuver warfare. He and a group of advocates had written a number of articles in the Marine Corps Gazette and discussed and essentially sold the idea for a period of years between the end of the Vietnam War and the publication of the doctrine in FMFM-1, Warfighting, in 1989.
He recently recounted that one worry they all had was that once published and made official doctrine, it would stop evolving:
I alluded to it briefly in a response to a Gazette piece that was published, how I was in General Gray’s [Commandant of the Marine Corps] office along with John Boyd – just the three of us. General Gray had only days before signed FMFM-1. Boyd congratulated him but then got real serious and talked about how important it would be to keep the thinking – the “fighting smart” – alive and relevant. Were we ever to sit back and say “We did it”, we would lose it, Boyd warned. It would be our challenge to keep our minds open, too, in order that we stay relevant to the changing times.
The need to do so was always Boyd’s response when people asked him why he didn’t publish – even a book. Boyd worried that were he to ever do so, people would say “There it is! The answers are in the book!”, and stop thinking and lose relevance in the changing times.