Introduction to DESTRUCTION AND CREATION, by John R. Boyd
The first edition of the Project White Horse website featured Dr. Chet Richards’ adaptation and amplification of John Boyd’s Observe-Orient-Decide-Act loop. Presentation, analysis, and discussion (and eventually derivative concepts synthesis) stemming from Boyd’s over arching work, “A Discourse on Winning and Losing,” provides a significant departure point for this website, given its stated focus on time critical decision making in crisis.
John Boyd was the rarest of people – fighter pilot with all the traits thereunto, engineer whose Energy- Maneuverability theory revolutionized fighter aircraft design, researcher, historian, intellectual, and military strategist whose concepts place him in the rarified company of Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Musashi, and Carl von Clausewitz. To move through “A Discourse” and follow the path he took to his final offering “The Essence of Winning and Losing” is an education in itself.
Because I believe his work so crucial to the study of time critical decision making in crisis, this edition features as complimentary efforts, both very different biographical approaches by Grant Hammond and Robert Coram, and to emphasize that his intellectual legacy encompassed much more than warfighting, is universal, timeless, and applicable to any form of conflict, Chet Richards’ application of Boyd’s concepts to business is also featured.
Boyd’s Air Force career and experience as a fighter pilot underpins all, but his beginning as a military and competitive strategist, the basis for “A Discourse on Winning and Losing” and his ultimate legacy in history launches from the 1976 publication of the paper “Destruction and Creation.” This abstract treatise describes how an interplay of analysis and synthesis destroys and creates our mental images of the external world - disorder turns into order which turns into disorder in a never ending cycle. To survive in a complex world on our own terms - to improve our capacity for independent action –- we must understand how to “comprehend, shape, adapt to, and in turn be shaped by an unfolding, evolving reality that is uncertain, ever changing, unpredictable.”
No better beginning for Project White Horse 084640, as a forum on decision-making than John Boyd’s “Destruction and Creation” with hyper links to commentary by one of Boyd’s closest friends, Chuck Spinney.
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