Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

I had first been introduced to the OODA loop during a certification course. At the time, the instructor essentially gave the one dimensional answer and overview of what the OODA loop was. He wasn’t wrong, and he wasn’t not relevant. It was an introductory analysis course. The one dimensional answer was perfect for that environment.

The discussion did make me wonder more about the OODA loop and who created it. John Boyd, according to this book, is an extremely interesting character. Genius and horrible family man, he introduced and created concepts and ideas that changed the mindsets of leaders all over the world. The book goes to great lengths to show how big of a dick John was, but at the same time how dedicated and pure he was in his pursuits. During his initial work on E-M Theory constantly he would say that “Oh, hell. Somebody has already done this.”

Even when dealing with people John refused to compromise. Which resulted in him being ostracized and neglected. However, the friends he did develop were close and formed tight bonds.

The book delves into the OODA loop a bit, and includes mentions of Schwerpunkt and Fingerspitzengefuhl. The main dimension of the OODA loop that the instructor never delved into revolved around Orientation, Unpredictability, and Speed. This book lays out the basis of the idea well. Essentially the goal of a successful OODA loop is to create enough chaos and uncertainty in your enemy that they are unable to determine their own next action; essentially holding them hostage in the observe phase.

I highly recommend this book. It highlights some of the injustices heaped on John Boyd, his own genius, and his own failings. It also gives overviews of what E-M Theory and the OODA Loop are, and how they relate to things such as Lean Management, Dev Ops, and other business practices.