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July 05, 2004

Boyd Cycles, OODA Loops

There have only been a few places online where I have heard about Boyd Cycles aka OODA Loops. Never have I heard Boyd compared to Sun Tzu, but the only serious geostrategic thinker I knew was the first one to mention them and he became entirely too busy after nine-eleven to be engaged online. The other person I have only just discovered. So I will take notes at this new site from time to time.

In my field of Business Intelligence, about which I almost never write here in the blog or elsewhere, I have arrived at a number of somewhat inexplicable gut facilities for success. Since I have been working primarily for myself over the past 3 years, I haven't had much call to explain that. In the overwhelming majority of times, I am able to make my case in a two hour meeting, and everything flows from there. But if I have any skills worth speaking of, they flow from an understanding I have about decisionmaking which I have evolved over the past 17 years. I find that much of what Sun Tzu says is quite applicable to this core of my thinking and approach to business; it is certainly part and parcel of my attractions to spycraft, politics, philosophy, theology, ethics, law, military strategy and the scientific process.

Additionally This.

Posted by mbowen at July 5, 2004 07:44 PM

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Boyd's biographer didn't just compare him to Tzu, he put him on equal, sometimes higher, footing. I don't agree with that, but I do think his ideas represent an important and fundamental innovation in warfighting, on that's far too poorly understood in the mainstream media.

The biggest problem is Boyd never wrote anything down. OODA was a presentation he did himself over the course of (eventually) two days. All that's available right now are essentially course notes. He had several disciples, and I'm amazed that to this day nobody seems to have written a book that codifies his presentation.

Posted by: scott at July 6, 2004 06:43 AM

I wrote a little about this at this link here if you'd like. There are some interesting business connections in the post; I mention Warren Bennis, Clay Christiansen, and a few others. Also, there's a couple of pretty good web sites on the "thinkers" part of the blogroll that might be of use to you.

Your comment about "inexplicable gut facilities" is interesting. I taught my junior officers how to build an intuition that processed faster, or less consciously, than usual--that "gut feel" that is useful. Ralph Peters got all mystical when I asked him about it once. The magazine Business 2.0 had a great article on their pay archives called "How To Think With Your Gut" that talks about it.

By the way--I love your blog. Found it from Begging to Differ and drop by when I can.

Posted by: Chap at July 6, 2004 03:36 PM

William Lind (see link) has been big on Col. Boyd for years. I first heard of Boyd in Lind's 1985 book, "Maneuver Warfare Handbook" published by Westview Press.

As a former jarhead and former hi-tech corporate weenie, I'd be cautious in applying military developed solutions to the business world beyond the concept level. Loyalty to buddy still works; corporate loyalty is an oxymoron at best, gallows humor at worst.

Hope you enjoy Boyd. Check the Lind links on the right of the page to start.


Posted by: tom at July 9, 2004 08:19 PM