Posts Tagged Col. John Boyd

Podcasts: Boyd Briefing On Organic Design For Command And Control

This is fantastic stuff! I had no idea this existed and if you are a fan of Boyd and mission command, you need to check this out. If you go to this link, or click on the graphic below, it will take you to the website that has this recording that is synced to Boyd’s slide. It also has audience participation in the audio and you get a really good feel on how Boyd would interact with the audience.

A big hat tip to Gahlord of Thoughtfaucet for putting this together. As for an actual download, perhaps someone out there can put it together? Until then, just listen and watch the slides at the Boyd and Beyond site, and enjoy some ‘Leadership and appreciation’!!! –Matt

Edit: 01/04/14 -Notice the theme in this briefing about the importance of having multiple nodes of feedback within your organization, in order to get the proper orientation to make good decisions. It is why Balck ate with his troops–to get feedback that was different than what he was getting in his staff meetings. You do not want a situation where you are getting information from just one source–because that one source could be biased. They could be sucking up to you. You want multiple sources of honest feedback to get a more complete picture. In other words, and this is the point of his lecture, you want to get an ‘appreciation’ for what you have and what is, so that you can apply some sound leadership to the situation. Appreciation and leadership….not command and control.


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Leadership: General Balck On Eating With Your Troops

When General Hermann Balck was commanding 48th Panzer Korps on the Eastern Front with General F.W. von Mellinthin as his I-A, Mellinthin one day reproached Balck for wasting time by going out to eat with the troop units so often. Balck replied, “You think so? OK, tomorrow you come with me.”
The next day, they arrived at a battalion a bit before lunchtime. They had a formal meeting, Balck asked some questions and got some answers. Then, they broke for lunch. During the informal conversation that usually accompanies meals, Balck asked the same questions and got completely different answers. On their way back to the headquarters, Balck turned to Mellinthin and said, “Now you see why I go out so often to eat with the troop units. It’s not for the cuisine.”

In one of my searches on General Hermann Balck, I came across an interesting deal about the value of informal conversation and eating with your troops. As a leader in the PMSC world, to achieve unit cohesion can be challenging. Most gigs are personnel deployment versus unit deployment, so you could be on a gig where you are constantly working with new folks.

So as a leader in such an environment, you have to constantly find ways of connecting with your guys other than just working with them in the day to day. Anything you can do to connect with folks and bring them together as a team, even when that team is constantly changing. The brass ring for any leader is to create unit cohesion so that operationally, you work as a team and not a bunch of individuals. Sitting with your shift, team, detail, company, etc. is one small way of building that unit cohesion.

This sounds like a no-brainer when it comes to leading, but you still have folks out there who want to separate themselves from their team/organization/company. Either for privacy issues, or on the negative side, because they could care less about the very people they lead. That eating with your men is a waste of time, like what was mentioned by Mellinthin up top. The simple act of breaking bread with your brothers in arms can show that you do care about them and actually want to connect with them other than through training or work.

It is also an excellent way to get feedback gold from your people. Or to create an environment where people can open up to what is really going on with the contract/mission or with what is happening with the team. Someone might mention a very useful bit of information about training or operational stuff, that really opens up a conversation within the group at the dinner table. ‘Pass the gravy, and tell me more about how to do this better….. As a leader,  you should have a front seat to this information sharing dinner party.

There was also a mention of Boyd in this article that was interesting. Boyd and Lind were both a part of the group that interviewed Balck and all sorts of cool lessons learned were obtained from these conversations. –Matt


General Hermann Balck in the center, at a table with soldiers.

By William S. Lind
March 15, 2007
A curious fact about the American military, and American private industry, in the early 21st century is their insistence on holding formal meetings. The practice is curious because these same institutions spend a great deal of time and effort studying “good management,” which should recognize what most participants in such meetings see, namely that they are a waste of time. Good decisions are far more often a product of informal conversations than of any formal meeting, briefing or process.
History offers a useful illustration. In 1814, the Congress of Vienna, which faced the task of putting Europe back together after the catastrophic French Revolution and almost a quarter-century of subsequent wars, did what aristocrats usually do. It danced, it dined, it stayed up late playing cards for high stakes, it carried on affairs, usually not affairs of state. Through all its aristocratic amusements, it conversed. In the process, it put together a peace that gave Europe almost a century of security, with few wars and those limited.
In contrast, the conference of Versailles in 1919 was all business. Its dreary, interminable meetings (read Harold Nicolson for a devastating description) reflected the bottomless, plodding earnestness of the bourgeois and the Roundhead. Its product, the Treaty of Versailles, was so flawed that it spawned another great European war in just twenty years. As Kaiser Wilhelm II said from exile in Holland, the war to end war yielded a peace to end peace.
The U.S. military has carried the formal meeting’s uselessness to a new height with its unique cultural totem, the Powerpoint brief. Almost all business in the American armed forces is now done through such briefings. An Exalted High Wingwang, usually a general or an admiral, formally leads the brief, playing the role of the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert. Grand Wazoos from various satrapies occupy the first rows of seats. Behind them sit rank upon rank of field-grade horse-holders, flower-strewers and bung-holers, desperately striving to keep their eyelids open through yet another iteration of what they have seen countless times before.
The briefing format was devised to use form to conceal a lack of substance. Powerpoint, by reducing everything to bullets, goes one better. It makes coherent thought impossible. Bulletizing effectively makes every point equal in importance, which prevents any train of logic from developing. Thoughts are presented like so many horse apples, spread randomly on the road. After several hundred Powerpoint slides, the brains of all in attendance are in any case reduced to mush. Those in the back rows quietly pray for a suicide bomber to provide some diversion and end their ordeal.

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Leadership: Narcissism And Toxic Leaders

This is an excellent run down of a particular type of ‘bad boss‘ that folks might run into out there. The article also talks about what to look for when finding potential leaders for an organization, in order to avoid these narcissistic toxic leaders. They boil it down to having emotional intelligence or the ability to focus on others (respecting others) as opposed to focusing purely on self (narcissism).

Under Jundism, you will find a couple of concepts that promote emotional intelligence. One is to ‘take care of your people’ and another would be ‘people support what they help to create’.  Both of these concepts require knowledge of your people. With that knowledge, you will have the brain power and experience of the group to tap into so you can build a better product or service.

Another more simplistic way to look at this, is to find and hire those individuals who are there ‘to do’ the job of a leader, and not there just ‘to be’ a leader or ‘To Be, Or To Do’ in the words of Col. John Boyd.

One final point that the article mentioned that rang true for both the military and any organization, and goes well with ‘the courage to do what is right’, is this quote.

“If the leader walks by and observes something wrong without making the correction, he has just established the new standard of behavior.”

If a company or military unit knows they have a toxic leader within their ranks, and they do nothing about it, they in essence are saying that it is acceptable. The troops are left wondering, does the organization as a whole really care about their welfare, if they knowingly allow these individuals to stay in these positions of power, or promote folks whom are toxic into these positions of power within the organization?

To that end, I would say that another quote from Boyd is in order–‘people, ideas, hardware–and in that order’. Companies and the military must make the effort to ensure that good leaders are within their ranks, representing the organizations well, managing the mission and contract well, and taking care of their people. That they are exhibiting the necessary emotional intelligence to properly use an organization’s most important resource–it’s people. –Matt


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Jundism: In Praise Of Those Who ‘Do’….

‘Only accurate rifles are interesting.’ -Townsend Whelen

This is a quick post, but important. For Townsend, only accurate rifles are interesting. I like that quote, and I think it works well with what I believe in, and that is ‘only those that do are interesting’. Over the years, I have received numerous emails from readers who had the courage ‘to do’ what is right. To quote Col. John Boyd, they chose the route of ‘to do’ when they came to that great crossroads of life that everyone experiences, and they wanted to share that with me.

These men and women are my heroes, and they are what inspire me every time I work on this blog or think about how to improve this industry and war effort. They are the unsung heroes of every company, military unit or government, that had the courage to stand up and demand excellence or battle with those who are unjust.  They have also done these things at peril to self, all because being righteous sometimes equates to being unpopular or not advancing in an organization. But at least they did not compromise what they believed in, and this is what makes them more interesting and more of a leader than any of those that strive ‘to be’.

There are other moments of jundism that I hear about that motivates me. Those that came up with the better idea, and fought hard for that better idea and won, are also my heroes. They might have built a snowmobile, and created a new idea, which is really awesome. Or they might have lost the battle, all because of someone else’s ego or pride.  Either way, that individual get’s my respect for fighting the good fight.

The other thing I like to focus in on with my exchanges with the readership, either here or at Facebook, is to empower those individuals in their personal battles. To actually give them the means to win those battles through sound strategy and good intelligence. ‘Know yourself, know your enemy’, as Sun Tzu would say.  But most importantly, win without fighting.

That last part is very important.  I want my readership to win their battles, and not face casualty. That is very hard to do though, and even in my personal battles, I have lost. But I have also won some battles, and the key is to learn from those losses and continuously improve upon your ability to win future battles. And of course, the ultimate in war fighting, or the battle of wills and ideas, is to win without fighting at all.

To do this, you must know your adversaries well, and know yourself so you can figure out what ‘winning’ really means. Studying strategy, and borrowing brilliance is crucial. You must also avoid fights that end up in pyrrhic victories. Seek fights where your strength can defeat their weakness, and get that win. I want you to continue working in this industry and become a force of change, or to be the example.  That is winning.  To destroy yourself while destroying your opponent is losing in my book. Remember this when thinking of conducting legal battles, or battles with management and other individuals in your particular occupation.

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to know that jundism and this blog is bringing about a revolution in thought process. I have readers who are now students of good leadership, who are innovators, who are not afraid to do what is right, etc. They are also students of strategy and are continuously improving. These  readers and leaders have embraced these ideas, and have used them to their advantage.  It is a privilege and honor to be a part of that process and serve this family.

For those that fall under the category of ‘to be’, all I have to say is that you do not earn my respect. Although there is something I do like about this loathsome group…..  I like to study you, so I can empower those that aspire ‘to do’, to defeat you. –Matt

“Tiger, one day you will come to a fork in the road,” he said. “And you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.” He raised his hand and pointed. “If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.”
Then Boyd raised his other hand and pointed another direction. “Or you can go that way and you can do something – something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference.”
He paused and stared into the officer’s eyes and heart. “To be somebody or to do something.” In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do. Which way will you go?”- Col. John Boyd

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Strategy: Egyptians Share Secrets Of Uprising

      This is fascinating stuff. Like most folks, I have been following the protests and political upheaval with some interest. But what I am really interested in is the strategies and tactics behind such things.  Because really, the best way to win a war or achieve an objective, is to not fight at all. Removing a leader and it’s regime via internal uprising or coup (bloodless preferred) , is far better than expending all the resources, treasure and blood that is involved with conducting an all out war to remove such a beast.

     What I thought was most impressive is that it sounded like what won the day was really good strategy on the part of the activists, and not Twitter or Facebook or whatever gadgets that the media likes to point to as the source.  These protesters played a better game than the riot forces and the Mubarak regime did, and they did it by borrowing brilliance or what I call ‘mimicry strategy’.  They saw how the folks in Tunisia did this, and copied it.  They also used whatever communications tool they could to network the masses and get them to where they needed to be.  So they did word of mouth tactics, they used the internet, they used flyers, they used the cell phone and text messaging, they used everything they could to get the word out.

     Further more, on the technology side of things, there are more cellphones in Egypt than internet users.  And the government eventually shut down the internet, leaving protest organizers to go back to more traditional ways of organizing.  But as you can see with their strategy, they wanted to create just one successful protest that would get people off their asses and out into the streets.  Once they got the people out, the protest would fuel itself because people would be motivated by other people and their actions.  Momentum is what they were seeking, and that is what they achieved.

    Also, I really dug the ‘Site 21’ strategy mentioned.  I think Col. John Boyd would be impressed with this strategy, as would any military strategist.  The protest was well planned and executed, and it used decoy marches to fool the police.  With that planning, they were also able to create a focal point or schwerpunkt at this Site 21, and depend on the masses to collect there and overwhelm any police forces that could respond. This massive show of people would be the fuel for future protests. This would further build on the inception of the Tunisian success in Egypt idea in everyone’s brain.  Success breeds success.

     Also it should be noted that ‘know yourself, know your enemy’ was extremely important to the success of these strategists.  They had protested and failed before, so they had that to learn from.  They had years to study the Egyptian riot police and how they operated.  They also learned what it took to motivate the people through a source of constant give and take feedback gold on such places as Facebook, Twitter, and activist forums.  And lets not forget the simple act of just talking on a phone or sending text as well?  The cellphone to me was probably the most important technological tool used, just because it was the one tool that everyone in the country had access too.

     Now for the down side.  Who knows what the outcome of all of this will be?  Will the Muslim Brotherhood take over in Egypt? Are we seeing the seeds of a Islamic Revolution throughout the region, much like what happened in Iran back in 1979?  Will the military in Egypt join with the people and their desired leader, or join with Mubarak and hurt the people to break the uprising? Or will the military just dissolve? Not to mention how all of this will impact the price of oil, US regional strategies and national interests, or even Egypt’s neighbor Israel?

     I don’t know, but I do know that other political uprisings will emerge because now there is a template.  Mimicry strategy, along with adding that one little edge specific to their region is the kind of stuff we will continue to see. Most importantly, there is momentum building and oppressed peoples will be more enthused to do something. –Matt

Go to Site 21!!!! This is our Tunisia!!!!

Egyptians Share Secrets of Uprising

FEBRUARY 10, 2011


CAIRO—The Egyptian opposition’s takeover of the area around the parliament this week began with a trick.

First, they called for a march on the state television building a few blocks north of their encampment in Tahrir Square. Then, while the army deployed to that sensitive communications hub, they moved into the lightly defended area around the parliament to the south.

The feint gave a taste of how a dozen young activists managed to outwit Egypt’s feared security forces to launch a historic uprising now in its 17th day—and hint at how the organizers hope to keep pressure on a regime that has dug in its heels.

On Jan. 25, the first day of protests, the organizers had a trick up their sleeves in the impoverished slum of Bulaq al-Dakrour, on Cairo’s western edge.

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Aviation: Drone Operators Climb On Winds Of Change In The Air Force

     Like with contractors, drones have been the ‘new thing’ that the military has been trying figure out. Now a kid who is really good at video games, could essentially fly these drones.  Hell, I think drone piloting will only become easier and more user friendly in the future.  We will also see drones that are more intuitive, that will actually help out the drone archer in their missions.  Of course we will also see autonomous drones come on to the scene, but I believe the military will still want some kind of human interface to be that ‘elephant chisel’ for that drone.

     I don’t think human flight will go away in the Air Force per se. It’s just now commanders have the choice between risking the life of a pilot for a mission versus using a UAV. So human powered missions will more than likely be the stuff that requires the utmost in human discretion.  Humans can also feel out a situation and provide more random strategies in the air, that machines would have a hard time deriving patterns from.

     But yet again, a human in a small box in Nevada, could apply the same strategies with a highly maneuverable UAV.  There are no physical limitations for the drone archer either.  They can go to the bathroom, eat, work in shifts, and the G Forces or altitude of the aircraft will not impact the mission.  Most importantly, there is no fog of war for the pilot.

     That leaves another question.  For some pilots, physically being in the battle, is a good thing.  It empowers them by heightening their senses and really pushing their strategies and desire to kill the enemy.  In other words, there are high stakes involved with human piloting, and that causes a person to really perform. The drone archer in the box, just looks at it like a video game. There might be a strategic edge to a pilot that is ‘more connected’ to the battlefield.  Who knows, and this stuff is a little out of my lane.  Either way, drones are here to stay, and they are causing a significant shift in military aviation mindset. I wonder what Col. John Boyd would have to say about drones? –Matt


Combat Generation: Drone operators climb on winds of change in the Air Force

By Greg JaffeSunday, February 28, 2010

The question, scrawled on a Pentagon whiteboard last fall, captured the strange and difficult moment facing the Air Force.

“Why does the country need an independent Air Force?” the senior civilian assistant to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the service’s chief of staff, had written. For the first time in the 62-year history of the Air Force, the answer isn’t entirely clear.

The Air Force’s identity crisis is one of many ways that a decade of intense and unrelenting combat is reshaping the U.S. military and redefining the American way of war. The battle against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq has created an insatiable demand for the once-lowly drone, elevating the importance of the officers who fly them.

These new earthbound aviators are redefining what it means to be a modern air warrior and forcing an emotional debate within the Air Force over the very meaning of valor in combat.

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