John Boyd and the OODA Loop
All thinking people interested in successful conflict resolution should be familiar with the essential work of USAF Col. John Boyd.
Col. Boyd is best known for his concept of the "Observe-Orient-Decide-Act" ("OODA") loop, which describes the analytic processes used by one actor to evaluate and respond to threats by other actors.
A recent biography of Col. Boyd is highly recommended, as is this collection of related links.
Along with his landmark strategic and tactical thinking, Col. Boyd also was known for his famous "To be or to do?" lecture, delivered frequently to young officers poised on the knife edge of great success and great achievements:
"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?"
Those who do not have force must use intelligence in order to prevail. More importantly, even those with force at their disposal must learn to use those assets wisely if they expect to win over the long term.