Chet Richards’ Review of Tempo on Fabius Maximus

by Venkat on July 24, 2011

Chet Richards, author of Certain to Win and a close associate of John Boyd just posted a thought-provoking review of Tempo on the Fabius Maximus blog. I get a stamp of approval, overall:

[Tempo] is a synthesis, what Boyd called a “snowmobile,” that combines concepts from across a variety of disciplines to produce a cornucopia of new ideas, insights and speculations.  You may be confused, challenged, outraged, and puzzled (some of the language can be academic), but you’ll rarely be bored because every chapter, often every page, has something you can add to the parts bin for building your own snowmobiles.

Overall, Chet comes to the conclusion that Tempo resonates with the Boydian spirit of decision-making. I don’t entirely get out of jail free though:

Perhaps his unfamiliarity with the original briefings, however, led him to  make one characterization that is incorrect, although widely believed:

The central idea in OODA is a generalization of Butterfly-Bee: to simply operate at a higher tempo than your opponent. (118)

Guilty as charged. I didn’t spend enough time exploring how OODA gets beyond merely “faster tempo” to “inside the adversary’s tempo.” That’s something I hope to explore in a more nuanced way in a future edition. Over the last 6-8 months, I think I’ve come to understand the subtleties a lot better, and the challenge is to now spend more time thinking through clear definitions and examples.

There are several other great suggestions that I am filing away for future use, and things I need to clarify better. I definitely had to leave out more material than I could include in the book, so it is great to have encouragement for follow-on work from a leading steward of the Boydian tradition of decision-making.

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