Abhi Yerra's Reviews > Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd

Science, Strategy and War by Frans P.B. Osinga
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it was amazing

This book took me while to get through as Osinga essentially deconstructs all of John Boyd's presentations and papers and attempts to figure out how his ideas were shaped. It is a challenging book to read especially since it covers so many different things from postmodern deconstructionism, complexity theory, Godel's Incompleteness theory, evolutionary theory and more to help understand John Boyd's OODA loop and the complexity around that idea.

Boyd's ideas are to move war away from a Clausewitzian method of war where two conventional armies fight to the warfare and strategy of rapidly capturing the enemy by surprise whether in terms of psychological or direct. Moving through the OODA loop is to move through the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act cycle. The observe point is to take observation of things as they happen and gaining that knowledge rapidly. Orient is to decide what to do with that information. What are the mental models that can be acted on. What is it similar to? What kind of destructive or creative action will compose the most damage. During the orient phase is when multiple models are created to respond to the observation and it is the most important part of the OODA loop. The decide point is figuring out which hypothesis that you came up with in the orient phase will have the most damage and Act is acting on that hypothesis. Essentially the OODA loop is strategy as the scientific method.

The book gets into much more complexity and some of it is a bit dry but Osinga definitely synthesizes Boyd's ideas. Further, I am simplifying a little bit by only covering the OODA loop but Osinga also discusses Boyd's ideas for organizational structure, mental models, and comparison to different war strategists throughout history.

Overall a great, if dense, book and many of the ideas are applicable to business as much as they are to war.
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Reading Progress

February 16, 2016 – Started Reading
February 16, 2016 – Shelved
June 8, 2016 – Finished Reading

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