Strategy of The Fighter Pilot, Modeling Techniques

John Boyd is an innovator in fighter pilot techniques. I found some of his work based on looking for control theory and modeling.

Fast Company has an article about John Boyd’s work that is shorter than the book about his life which I am also reading.

Why is this interesting?

It's all about rapid assessment and adaptation to a complex and rapidly changing environment that you can't control.

This is the challenge to building a green data center.  The issues are constantly changing, and there is much beyond your control.  What you can do is assess the situation and adapt.

The model helps unify the approach.  An example used is Toyota’s organizational approach.

Bower and Hout's classic example -- and one that Boyd also studied -- was Toyota, which designed its organization to speed information, decisions, and materials through four interrelated cycles: product development, ordering, plant scheduling, and production. Self-organized, multifunctional teams at Toyota, they observed, developed products and manufacturing processes in response to demand, turning out new models in just three years compared with Detroit's cycle of four or five.

Systems like Toyota's worked so well, Boyd argued, because of schwerpunkt, a German term meaning organizational focus. Schwerpunkt, Boyd wrote, "represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time." That is, employees decide and act locally, but they are guided by a keen understanding of the bigger picture.

Good models allow you to see things you didn’t know where there.

A modeling approach has the potential to create a convergence of ideas  to drive new innovation, and better education of the team.

John Boyd achieved this in fighter pilot techniques.

Boyd theorized that large organizations such as corporations, governments, or militaries possessed a hierarchy of OODA loops at tactical, grand-tactical (operational art), and strategic levels. In addition, he stated that most effective organizations have a highly decentralized chain of command that utilizes objective-driven orders, or directive control, rather than method-driven orders in order to harness the mental capacity and creative abilities of individual commanders at each level. In 2003, this power to the edge concept took the form of a DOD publication "Power to the Edge: the Information Age" by Dr. David S. Alberts and Richard E. Hayes. Boyd argued that such a structure creates a flexible "organic whole" that is quicker to adapt to rapidly changing situations. He noted, however, that any such highly decentralized organization would necessitate a high degree of mutual trust and a common outlook that came from prior shared experiences. Headquarters needs to know that the troops are perfectly capable of forming a good plan for taking a specific objective, and the troops need to know that Headquarters does not direct them to achieve certain objectives without good reason.

Trust is a key ingredient to these ideas.  Modeling can be used to promote trust.

Note: OODA loop is described here.