We’re having a pretty solid discussion about Robert Greene’s recent piece on the John Boyd and the OODA Loop. I’ll post more about Boyd in the future, just because he’s revolutionized how I think, but here are some of the thoughts I posted in the thread. I’m going to try to tie them in with a sentence or two to new media and PR.
As he would make attacks on people’s programs and ideas in the Pentagon, he would always low-ball the negative numbers. For instance, he would generously give all figures the benefit of the doubt–using the most optimistic data for the EMT equation. And since he was right, they still turned out in the disfavor of the people supporting the wrong program. When they challenged him using the actual numbers, they actually looked worse than if they’d accepted his criticism outright.
This falls into about 5 of the 48 Laws. 3) Conceal Your Intentions 8) Make other people come to you–use bait if necessary 17) Keep others in suspended terror: Cultivate an air of unpredictability. And on and on…
The reason Boyd didn’t like von Clausewitz was because he focused too much on reducing his own “friction” instead of causing it in the enemy. Boyd was a master at doing the opposite. That’s “embracing the chaos of war.” He’s funneling uncertainty at the enemy, seemingly conceding short term victory to goad them into biting of more than they can chew. It’s like poker, make them think you’re bluffing as you bait them into a killshot. Again, by cultivating that air on unpredictability you’re making them more likely to be detrimentally timid or brashly brave; neither of which is helpful for them.
So I think there is a subtle difference between secrecy and obfuscation. You’re not trying to pretend that you’re not up to something. On the contrary, you want them to be aware of your strategy–just not the right one. Boyd did this perfectly, he challenged his opponents openly, but they figured he’d be fudging the numbers in his favor not theirs. He’s just begging them to call him out, begging them to overextend so he can strike where they are vulnerable. “Make them come to you,” with bait and then reveal your pocket ace.
Which you can use on more investigative or critical pieces. Remember never to drop everything you have at once. If you’re calling someone or an entity out, be sure to be liberal (to them) in your calculations and conclusions. That why you eliminate semantic disagreements right off the bat. And best case scenario, you get them to challenge you on your date so you can smugly remind them that upon further consideration, things are actually worse than you first portrayed.
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
And when you think about it, all the people who you truly respect, the
ones you trust, would do anything for, which path did they choose?
History’s true greats, ironically, didn’t choose the first path, they
chose the second. They decided to do something, and through it, become
someone. Look at Boyd–he was a fucking Colonel. All the generals he
butted heads against, the superiors who shit on him–they’re nobodies,
and they’ll never be remembered. And I have a feeling that as Boyd
studied the classics of military history, he may have picked up a copy
of The Meditations.
So, to me, while the OODA loop is important and a crucial component of
strategy, I have the feeling that the To Do or To Be speech will stick
with me a lot longer.
I don’t think that needs much explanation.
Anyways, join in the discussion and read Robert Coram’s book. Trust me.