Dates for Boyd and Beyond 2013 at Quantico, Virginia, are 11 and 12 October 2013.
More details to follow.
Stress and Success, Fast Fixes for Turbulent Times, by Jonathan Brown
From the description at Amazon:
The book helps people to dramatically improve their ability to handle stress and to use it to become more successful. It helps you to understand how and why a situation is likely to be stressful and what you can do to shape your environment to get stress that helps you to be successful.
I ordered my copy today and look forward to Jonathan’s ideas.
Defining “the best” is at best subjective. In no particular order save the first two, these are the best books I read in 2012:
Best Non-Fiction: Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command, Jon Tetsuro Sumida
Best Biography: The Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, William Manchester and Paul Reid
National Security Dilemmas, Colin Gray
America in Arms, John McAuley Palmer
Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Admirals, Walter Borneman
Creating a Lean R&D System, Terence Barnhart
The Twilight War, David Crist
Catherine The Great, Robert K.Massie
Rubicon, Tom Holland
The First Battle, Otto Lehrack
Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian
Clausewitz’s On War, A Biography, Hew Strachan
John Quincy Adams, Harlow Giles Unger
Cross-posted at Zenpundit.
At the suggestion of Adam Elkus, we were privileged to host our first “local” Boyd and Beyond event on 15 December. We had 14 attend, and five speakers. Logistically, we turned our family room in to a fairly comfortable briefing area, using a wall with Smart Sheets as a temporary white board. In keeping with our October events, we took up a collection and had pizza delivered for lunch. Coffee, soft drinks light snacks were provided. Each speaker was allotted 50 minutes, but given the participation of the audience, most talks lasted about 90 minutes. I should emphasize to those planning one of these events, to keep a lean speaker’s list, as the Q&A and discussion can easily double the time of a presentation—-and I believe all who attended would agree the comments/discussion made already great presentations even better.
My sincere thanks go out to my wife and partner, Kristen, for making this event look easy! She was the one who made sure everything was moving along and that folks felt at home.
Our speakers were:
Jim Hasik, Beyond Hagiography: Problems of Logic and Evidence in the Strategic Theories of John Boyd
Francis Park, The Path to Maneuver Warfare in the U.S. Marine Corps
Robert Cantrell, Which Card Will You Play?
Terry Barnhart, Designing and Implementing Maneuver Strategy in Transforming Major Organizations
Marshall Wallace, Theories of Change and Models of Prediction
I led off with a few comments on the military professional and intellectual rigor. I recommended the best book I’ve read this year: Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command, by Jon Tetsuro Sumida, and the challenges he suggests in the realm of intellectual rigor. He writes:
“It remains to be seen whether readers exist with the mind and will to accept his guidance on what necessarily is an arduous intellectual and moral voyage into the realm of war and politics.” (emphasis added)
I followed with the example from An Unknown Future and a Doubtful Present: Writing the Victory Plan of 1941, by Charles E. Kirkpatrick. Mr. Kirkpatrick’s little book provides an excellent primer to the formulation of the United States’ WWII strategy and a refreshing insight into the education of an master strategist, then Major Albert C. Wedemeyer, attached to the War Plans Division, the Army chief of staff’s strategic planners, who wrote the Army strategy for WWII in 90 days. (read the review here) I suggested that military professionals should start something akin to a book club, where they can discuss and debate strategic issues and concept.
Following my comments, Jim Hasik offered his critique of John Boyd’s work. Adam tweeted that we were a “tough crowd,” but Jim was able to discuss his misgivings with respect to Boyd’s work and a lively discussion got us started. For those unfamiliar, Jim is the author of a paper called, Beyond Hagiography, which generated controversy in the Boydian community following this year’s October event at Quantico. (reviewed here and at zenpundit.com) Here is a link to the paper. (see Hasik’s white board outline above).
According to Hasik, Boyd erred when extrapolating from physical processes/science to social processes. He reviewed Boyd’s use of science in his essay, Destruction and Creation, and suggested no literal correlation between Clausius’ Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy), Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem, and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and human behavior (on this I concur with Hasik, as analogy or metaphor these scientific principles enlighten). Hasik asked if OODA scales from air-to-air combat to large scale events, and whether OODA was original (compared to PDCA, for example). One point that generated quite a bit of discussion was whether one could “like” Clausewitz or Sun Tzu and Boyd. Hasik questioned whether Boyd’s work should be judged as social science, history, or war studies, and suggested that further work was needed to fill in the gaps in his work. In October, someone suggested Boyd needed a “Plato,” someone to address Boyd’s work with less emphasis on science (as in Osinga’s book), thereby making Boyd’s work more accessible. The Strassler model was suggested; Strassler is an “unaffiliated scholar” who has written exhaustively referenced versions of Thucydides, Herodotus, and Arrian. [personal note: I believe a Strassler-like book on Boyd's ideas would be a great resource] A great thought-provoking conversation.
Francis Park’s talk on on maneuver warfare, the evidence of history began with “I’m a historian and I have a problem.” The irony wasn’t lost on the audience, as Francis is an active duty Army officer, speaking on the history of the USMC’s adoption of maneuver warfare (MW). Park called the Marine Corps “the most Darwinian of the services.” The venue for for the Corps discussion between MW advocates, and the “attritionists” was the Marine Corps Gazette. This venue was “unofficial,” otherwise the debate may have never happened. The Gazette’s forward-thinking editor made space and encouraged the debate, which was a ”long, bitter, and complex fight.”
Park listed and discussed the champions of MW Michael D. Wyly, G.I. Wilson, William Woods, William Lind, and Alfred M. Gray. Park recommended Fideleon Damian’s master’s thesis, THE ROAD TO FMFM 1: THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS AND MANEUVER WARFARE DOCTRINE, 1979-1989. (Adam Elkus recommended Eric Walters essay in the Small Wars Journal, titled Fraud or Fuzziness? Dissecting William Owen’s Critique of Maneuver Warfare.)
Park called the USMC adoption of MW a “confluence of fortune” that may have never happened without the vigorous efforts of proponents.
Robert Cantrell’s Which Card Will You Play? was an instructive and interactive example of Robert’s strategy cards. Cantrell has two decks of strategy playing cards, one devoted to strategy, the other to sales strategy. The user’s guide is at www.artofwarcards.com.
Robert provided examples of how the cards are used to spark strategic thought and ideas. Volunteers pulled first one, then two cards from the decks, and read aloud and commented on how the statement(s) on the cards could be used in practice. For example, “Muddy The Water To Hide the Nets” was drawn (the 8 of clubs, a bit more on card suits from Robert below). The “strategy” is to “confuse your adversary so he cannot perceive your intentions. The “Basis” is “Confused adversaries make mistakes they would not make if they grasped your intentions.”
Longtime friend of this blog, Fred Leland at Law Enforcement Security Consulting is using the cards with success. Fred’s goal is “to get cops thinking more strategically and tactically in their work. I have been pulling a card from the deck and writing my thoughts and sharing them with cops who have been passing them along to their officers.” He is using Robert’s cards for “in-service” training, and providing a low cost entry into strategic thinking.
I followed up with Robert and asked for an explanation of the card suits. Here is his response:
Hi Scott – although they are gray delineations, the Hearts are oriented on the shaping self, the Clubs on shaping the field of contest…the diamonds are isolation strategies, and the spades are elimination strategies. This is the wolf pattern on the hunt: wolf becomes all the wolf it can be, shapes the hunt, isolates a member from the heard, brings that member down. With aces high – and again also gray – the higher cards tend to be strategies used from a greater abundance of strength and the lower numbers from comparative weakness in strength. Of course from here we can talk about gaining relative advantage if we cannot have absolute advantage to gain strength for a critical moment…and so on
Terry Barnhart spoke on Boydian organizational applications in a talk called Designing and Implementing Maneuver Strategy in Transforming Major Organizations. Terry said any organizational change had to be accomplished on the realms of the moral, mental, and the physical. With that in mind, he advised mapping the social networks of the organization and speaking in “the language of the culture” and “asking for what you need” when attempting to transformation. The end goal is “aligned autonomy,” and Terry’s recommended method of choice is taken from Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict,Slide 80:
Search out the “surfaces and gaps”, as reference from Slide 86, POC. In Boyd’s language:
•Present many (fast breaking) simultaneous and sequential happenings to generate confusion and disorder—thereby stretch-out time for adversary to respond in a directed fashion.
•Multiply opportunities, to uncover, create, and penetrate gaps, exposed flanks, and vulnerable rears. [emphasis added]•Create and multiply opportunities to splinter organism and envelop disconnected remnants thereby dismember adversary thru the tactical, grand tactical, and strategic levels. [emphasis added]
In Terry’s words, “be everywhere at once” and establish relationships that result in buy-in, avoiding “no,” as Terry advised it can take a couple of years to overcome an objection. As aligned autonomy is reached, word will get around about the successes, and all of sudden what was a single agent of change becomes a movement. So Terry is recommending methods in maneuver warfare as a method in transforming organization culture.
During Terry’s talk, Dave recommended Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie as a guide in navigating the bureaucracy and obstacles often found in large organizations.
Marshall Wallace’s Theories of Change and Models of Prediction was our final presentation. Marshall has emerged as one of the leading thinkers among Boydians. Wallace said, “people are lazy” as he led off his discussion of change models. [personal note: I've come to refer to this laziness as "neurological economy"] His thinking was influence by Daniel Kaneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and the Heath brother’s Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard. When change is desired, clarity is an absolute must have. Wallace offered the four models above as example of change. He said we must ask: “What is the change we want to see?” and ” What are the pre-conditions?”—instead of this model, most people begin with the idea, which more often than not, fails.
Wallace walked our group through the models and emphasized the importance of tempo and used his wife’s efforts to establish dog parks in their city. Everything in government has a process, and Wallace said in this case “going slower than the politicians” paid off. Also, for programs of change, it is best if there is 100% transparency of goals. Both Marshall and Terry recommended a book called The Progress Principle, by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer. The most powerful model for me was the one in the lower right corner—particular the use of “more people” and “key” people in any effort to affect change.
Post meeting, Wallace posted the following to our Facebook group wall, that rounds out and expands his thinking:
I was on the plane back to Boston yesterday morning, deeply engrossed in Terry’s book [Creating a Lean R&D System] when a phrase leapt into my head: “Target the whole organism”.
As the Michaels in our lives (Moore and Polanyi) remind us, “we know more than we can say”. I feel that quite clearly and I constantly struggle with language. I am never satisfied with any presentation I give because I know that, due to failures on my part to use the perfect word at the right moment, I left some understanding on the table.
Somehow the weekend, with spectacular conversation, a good night’s sleep, the enforced idleness of air travel, and Terry’s superb book, shook something loose.
Target the whole organism.
What flashed through my mind at that moment were pieces of the talks.
Jim prompted discussion of what the next set of books about/on/adding to Boyd should look like.
Francis drew a pie wedge with “firepower” on one edge of the pie and “maneuver” on the other. He was describing two schools of thought on conflict as represented by these extremes. Everybody seemed to agree that the balance lay somewhere in the middle and was definitely related to the context.
Robert’s exercises with his strategy decks shook countless examples of strategic action and insight loose in our minds. The combination of cards, taking one from each of the competition and collaboration decks, was especially exciting.
Terry laid out his plan to blitzkrieg his company, and invited us to make it better.
I ended with a 4-cell matrix demonstrating the four basic categories under which all Theories of Change operate (more on this later). Experience has shown that most people operate out of an implicit Theory that traps them in one quadrant, whereas social change only occurs if all four quadrants are affected.
Target the whole organism.
I got home and opened up “The Strategic Game of ? and ?”. Interaction and Isolation.
Firepower and maneuver – at the same time. Competition and collaboration at the same time.
Boyd side-by-side with his sources and several commentators. CEO, discouraged middle-managers, and the line at the same time. More People and Key People at both the individual level and the structural level all at the same time.
Target the whole organism.
A force that uses maneuver to confuse and firepower to destroy will dominate. A force that can swing rapidly between extremes and also find balance is even more slippery than one that acknowledges the “necessary” balance. The two practices can be in separate parts of the battlespace (context matters), but because both are occurring, the confusion generated may well be more intense. It looks as though the force is two distinct armies and communication among the enemy may be unintelligible because the threats being faced are so different.
Bringing collaborative concepts into competitive spaces or vice versa while not abandoning the underlying logic of the space opens up more options, challenges notions, and expands horizons. Can we interact and isolate at the same time? What does that snowmobile look like?
If we want to effect social change, we need to target the whole system. We can sequence our efforts in time, though we can’t forget to move as quickly as the circumstances allow. At the same time, every effort must be connected to the whole organism.
The target is not the target. I do not aim at the eye of the fish. I don’t wan’t to hit the bullseye.
I want to pick up the whole madding crowd of intense archers, cynical kings, and wildly cheering spectators and move them.
This was the first “local” event, and based on the response, we’ll be doing these a few times a year. Many thanks to all who participated, and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!
UPDATE: Dave shared these with our group. Francis said, “We live and die by bumper stickers.” Here is a good example:
Here is Dave’s interpretation of the Sufi elephant:
Cross posted at Zenpundit.
Five essential elements of a To Be or To Do Culture:
1. A measurable and realistic vision, pursued by engaged, competent, responsible and accountable people who strive for harmony.
2. Individual insight is characterized by clarity and credibility of purpose, expectations, and communications.
3. The freedom and expectation for individuals to act where experience and intellectual capability warrant.
4. Agile and adaptable, able to successfully cope, learn, and shape unfolding circumstances, including failures, both internal and external to the enterprise.
5. Guards the elements listed above for each member without regard to position so they and the enterprise can flourish and grow, and where applicable, gain a competitive advantage.
These themes were derived from John Boyd’s Organic Design for Command and Control, slide 3, however the conclusions are my own and are not meant to imply Boyd’s concurrence.
Vision is what you see for tomorrow, and is an aspiration informed by insight and driven by desire. Your vision is a mental image of something that has not yet occurred or a state not yet achieved.
Boyd recommended a
“Unifying vision, a grand ideal, overarching theme, or noble philosophy that represents a coherent paradigm [example, pattern, standard] within which individuals…can shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances…” (Patterns of Conflict, Slide 144)
On the topic of vision, many will be understandably skeptical, as too often organizations use vision as a slogan, often disconnected with reality or the real destination. That said, your vision should have integrity, be realistic, inspiring, and verifiable. Define yours in such a way that the most junior member of your enterprise “gets it,” gets excited, and stays interested. A well-crafted vision will provide an unambiguous place from which to start (or start over), and the good news is you get to pick the road. Further, by articulating a vision, you offer a destination on which to focus and direct the efforts of your organization. Beware and understand one of your vision’s constraints is your current identity—identities don’t change overnight, so factor in patience and persistence in your journey.
The late President John F. Kennedy in his famous moon speech offered one of the most simple, yet succinct vision statements:
“I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”
The vision or goal was to land a man on the moon, within a prescribed time period, and the standard of success was “returning him safely to earth.” The focus and simplicity are instructive and powerful.
As Boyd reminds, your vision should allow you to shape some of those “unfolding circumstances,” for sometimes you will have to adapt to achieve your vision. In the space program, after the tragic loss of Apollo 1, NASA had to adapt and adjust within the time confines of the vision. In the end, the whole point of a vision is to unify your group in pursuit of your dreams and goals, but to do so in such as way as to allow for, even expect and thrive on “unfolding circumstances.” Thus as an individual and as group you will have to learn to be agile; agility comes only with practice, and in an ideal world agility also becomes a habit.
A well-articulated vision will help you establish the conditions to develop your organization and enable it to thrive and grow, and where applicable successfully compete.
The Last Lion, Winston Spenser Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, by William Manchester and Paul Reid
In the 1980′s, William Manchester wrote two of three planned volumes on the life of Winston Churchill. He had notes for the final volume but illness prevented him from completing. Instead, he brought in Paul Reid to finish his masterpiece. While it took 25 years, the wait was well worth it; Reid thus far (I’m halfway through) has channelled Manchester’s style and presenting a seamless connection to the first two volumes.
Cross posted at Zenpundit.
For the third consecutive year, Boyd and Beyond was held at Quantico, Virginia. This year we had a record turn-out, approaching 100 on Saturday. In fact, had we had 138 total RSVPs, and many had to cancel at the last minute. This year we were missing our traditional “law enforcement” contingent, but added speakers from areas not traditionally associated with Boydian thoughts and methods, most notably NGOs and humanitarian relief organizations and web design/marketing. Mary Ellen Boyd, one of John Boyd’s daughters, joined us for both days, and her active participation, for me, was a true highlight of the event.
Zenpundit is writing a more exhaustive post, so what I plan to share are a few highlights and will not cover all presenters:
Chet Richards, author of Certain to Win, a close associate of Boyd and the only person authorized to give Boyd’s presentations, gave a one hour talk on Boyd’s Conceptual Spiral and The Meaning of Life. Chet was kind enough to include the paper he delivered on his website Fast Transients. The paper is a fascinating exposition into “how” Boyd’s ideas developed, and the circumstances surrounding the evolution of his presentations.
Terry Barnhart, who has a new book out, Creating a Lean R&D System, walked the audience through the development of an A3, a tool used in Lean problem identification and solution, and sourced from John Shook’s Managing to Learn. Terry’s passion and depth of knowledge have been a benefit at each Boyd and Beyond event since 2010, and this year was no exception.
The remaining speakers were first-timers in both attendance and speaking:
Marshall Wallace, Director of the Do No Harm Program of the CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, gave a talk on how non-governmental organizations deal with the uncertainty of working in conflict zones. Marshall’s OODA-like approach is divided around two distinct thoughts:
Marshall said the four most important components of NGO participation in conflict zones were: respect, accountability, fairness, and transparency. While a presentation from an NGO was unexpected to many who have attended these events, Marhall’s was one the best received and most discussed talks of the two days.
Venkatesh Rao, author if TEMPO, and blogger at ribbonfarm, was the first speaker on Saturday. Venkat’s talk was titled “What Does “Inside the Tempo” Mean? and he went on to provide eleven examples, but started with the classic story of the hedgehog and the hare, which illustrates Venkat’s proposition that “mental models are an addiction.” This line of thought squares with Boyd’s admonition to regularly create and destroy mental models as the need arises.
Gahlord Dewald spoke on what he called “dreadful efficiency” and spoke of the challenges presented to web designers and marketers in providing both content and advertising in media that range from a large PC screen to a mobile PDA device. While I had never considered the problem, it appears the “efficiencies” of a “super computer” in your pocket remains presents “dreadful” obstacles to our traditional methods of advertising and marketing.
Peter Turner gave a compelling talk on Transition Operations and COIN. He emphasized the “letting go” of the occupying force as it transitions out of a country, and allowing locals to “own” decisions made during this transition. (Pete co-wrote a thought provoking piece at Small Wars Journal here.)
This is just a thumbnail review, so I’ll wrap it up by saying the same mental fatigue that has characterized these two days in October accompanied this event. We’ve tentative plans for a Spring 2013 event on the west coast, and based on response this past weekend, will probably happen. Will keep you posted.
Here are some of the books recommended:
Generals, Tom Ricks
The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey
Damage Control, Eric Dezenhall
Buck it Up, Suck it Up, James Carville
Anticipating Surprise: Analysis for Strategic Warning, Cynthia M. Grabo
This Kind of War, T.R. Fehnrenbach
The End, Ian Kershaw
The Black Tulip, Milt Bearden
America’s First Battles, Heller and Stofft
Shadow War, Tom Hayden
Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher
Culture Code, Clotaire Rapaille
Thriving on Chaos, Tom Peters
Seeing Like a State, James C. Scott
The Logic of Failure, Dietrich Dorner
The New Wars, Herfried Munkler
April 1865: The Month That Saved America, Jay Winik
Leading With Cultural Intelligence, David A. Livermore
This is worth the 20 minutes. Strategy without clarity, isn’t. There is no clarity or strategy to our current problems in Afghanistan.
“We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated.” Ambassador Ryan Crocker
Cross posted at Zenpundit.
H/T Feral Jundi at Facebook.
A modified note from Stan Coerr:
We are looking forward to seeing everyone a month from now, on the morning of 12 October 2012 in Quantico.
IF YOU ARE A SPEAKER: I need a positive response from you that your time allotted, subject and day are correct. If you need us to move you, let me know.
1. Dress code Casual.
Officers: you do not need to wear a uniform. There will be people there in blue jeans.
We are going to be in two different places on the two days we are there.
On Friday, the first day, we will meet at 7:30 am in the Command and Staff College building, right next to the Gray Research Center. You should have no trouble at the gate.
To stay overnight: Crossroads Inn is a hotel on the base, less than a mile from the venues. It is at 3018 Russell Rd, Quantico, VA 22134 Phone (703)630-4444
On Saturday, we will meet at 8:00 am at the Expeditionary Warfare School, also on the base in Quantico. We will give those directions on Friday.
We are looking for volunteers for food and drink. Coffee, water and snacks are most welcome. Please contact me and Scott Shipman if you are able to help. [Note: Scott Shipman is bringing coffee. Someone volunteered for water and bagels, but I misplaced the note---drop me a comment/email to close the loop.]
We are cramming in a lot of information and a lot of presentations…and a lot of people. I know that the math does not add up on our schedule; people can contract or expand as needed. It is my intent that we will eat right there in the room, both days, and take breaks right there as well.
It is my intent that we will start doing this twice a year. I am planning to start a Boyd and Beyond 2013 conference in Silicon Valley / Monterey / Palo Alto area next spring, IN ADDITION TO our usual October event in Quantico. I am convinced that people there will be intrigued by our group and will want to participate. I have started talking to people about how, and where, to do this. If you have ideas, bring them and we will discuss.
Scott and I look forward to seeing everyone in a month!
0730-0815 Stan Coerr intro
Dr. Terry Barnhart : Ten-minute teaching modules throughout conference
Chet Richards: Closing the OODA Loop: Boyd, the Conceptual Spiral, and the Meaning of Life (60 min)
Greg Wilcox: Boyd’s: People, Ideas, and Things, In That Order (30 min)
Dr. Terry Barnhart : Ten-Minute Teaching Modules throughout conference
Brigadier General Stacy Clardy USMC: John Boyd, Quantico and Marine Corps Enlightenment (60 min)
Captain Paul Tremblay USMC: Boyd and Bravo Company: Tempo in Ground Combat (60 min)
Terry for Ten
Terry for Ten
Katya Drozdova: Afghanistan, Force and Tempo (30 min)
Marshall Wallace: NGO Team Decision Cycles in Crisis: Boyd in Action (30 min)
Terry for Ten
Mike Miller: The Boyd Archives: Lecture and Tour Round-Robin
To archives: small groups, 30 minutes each
Concurrent in classroom: Case Method Instructors (Bruce Gudmundsson/Damien O’Connell).
GI Wilson: How it Happened
Terry for Ten
Pete Turner: Human Terrain Systems and COIN (30 min)
Tom Hayden: Boyd and COIN (60 min)
Mike Grice: The Second O: The Effect of COIN on Orientation (30 min)
Adam Elkus: OODA and Robotic Weapons (30 min)
Terry for Ten
Jake Wood and William McNulty: Boyd and Bureaucracy: Starting Rubicon (30 min)
David Diehl: Boyd in the Cyber Conflict Domain (30 min)
Mike Grice & Jonathan Brown: Boyd Cycle in High-Pressure Business (30 min)
Chris Cox: Boyd and Politics (30 min)
Ten for Terry
Stan Coerr: Next Steps
Cross-posted at Zenpundit.