What you really do with OODA loops

These are some selections and notes from a brilliant essay by Dr Chester W Richards about OODA loops and the general application of military know how to business. From “What you really do with OODA loops” :

The key to the military notion of time lies in how practitioners of the art of war view strategy. Great commanders down through the years have used time-based strategy to cloud their opponents’ understanding and destroy their morale so that the battle, if it must be fought at all, is relatively quick and painless. In the language of conflict, we say that they move their opponents where they want them to be. Leaders in business and industry can do the same thing and with similar results. This paper explores this notion, first by looking at what today’s most avant-garde business theorists claim for the concept of time, and then comparing that to what the most successful generals and strategists aim to achieve. Finally, we will the translate the military goals and objectives back into the commercial world and look for examples where it actually worked.

…Building one new business after another, faster than the competition, is the only way to stay ahead.

a real strategist doesn’t like words like “respond” and is dubious about “anticipate.” These are passive sorts of things…

Now it is true that fast reactions have their place – if your opponent catches you by surprise, for example. Competence in this tactic, such things as staying cool, using the other side’s momentum against them, and so on, form an essential part of any competitor’s tool kit. Problems arise when, as in the above paradigm, reaction becomes the goal of strategy. First, under such an arrangement, if we don’t see anything, we don’t do anything. So much for initiative.

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Bookmarks for April 2nd 2009 through June 29th 2009

These are my links for April 2nd 2009 through June 29th 2009:

The world’s best tomatoes

One of the great pleasures of early summer in Serbia is that we get these incredibly delicious tomatoes. They are absurdly delicious. One of my favourite snacks is a thick slice of tomato on a rice cake. The slightly saltier Algae flavoured rice cakes are best. It is a taste sensation!

These are the most delicious tomatoes I have ever eaten.

The beginning of the end for the Iranian regime?

At the end of a recent post on Iran I wrote:

“I do not think that these demonstrators will unseat the Mullahs this time around. They will tire or be beaten into submission, but I do think this is the beginning of the end for Islamic Republic.”

It seems that Roger Cohen, writing in the New York Times, agrees with that assessment. He outlines 5 key areas where the regime has been undermined (helpful enumeration via Global Dashboard) :

  1. The supreme leader’s post — the apex of the structure conceived by the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — has been undermined. The keystone of the arch is now loose. Khamenei, far from an arbiter with a Prophet-like authority, has looked more like a ruthless infighter. His word has been defied. At night, from rooftops, I’ve even heard people call for his death. The unthinkable has occurred.
  2. The hypocritical but effective contract that bound society has been broken. The regime never had active support from more than 20 percent of the population. But acquiescence was secured by using only highly targeted repression (leaving the majority free to go about its business), and by giving people a vote for the president every four years. That’s over. Repression will be broad and ferocious in the coming months. The acquiescent have already become the angry. You can’t turn Iran into Burma: The resistance of a society this varied and savvy will be fierce.
  3. A faction loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, fiercely nationalistic and mystically religious, has made a power grab so bold that fissures in the establishment have become canyons. Members of this faction include Hassan Taeb, the leader of the Basiji militia; Saeed Jalili, the head of the National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator; and Mojtaba Khamenei, the reclusive but influential son of the supreme leader. They have their way for now, but the cost to Iran has been immense, and the rearguard action led by Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a father of the revolution, and Mir Hussein Moussavi, the opposition leader, will be intense.
  4. Iran’s international rhetoric, effective in Ahmadinejad’s first term, will be far less so now. Every time he talks of justice and ethics, his two favorite words, video will roll of Neda Agha Soltan’s murder and the regime’s truncheon-wielding goons at work. The president may prove too much of a liability to preserve.
  5. At the very peak of its post-revolution population boom, the regime has lost a whole new generation — and particularly the women of that generation — by failing to adapt. Thirty years from the revolution, the core question of this election was: Must Iran stand apart from the forces of economic and political globalization in order to preserve its Islamic theocracy? Or is it confident enough of its Islamic identity, and its now firmly established independence from America, to trash the nest-of-spies vitriol and an ultimately self-defeating isolation? The answer has been devastating.

Applying Kilcullen’s ideas to urban regeneration

“What do you do if you’re fighting a counterinsurgency campaign and you run out of troops, western troops that is?

According to David Kilcullen in The Accidental Guerrilla (pp 269-71), the answer is to enlist villagers in “local security forces such as neighborhood watch organizations, concerned citizens groups, local security guard forces, auxiliary police and the like”. Use these local security units to do the vital but labour intensive work of protecting communities from insurgents, with support and backup from western troops.

Kilcullen uses the Iraq “surge” of 2007-08 to support this argument. The success of the surge was due to the large number of Iraqis (”mostly former Sunni insurgents or former members of local community or tribal militias”) who were recruited to local security units. This approach put a large number of people, who had expert local knowledge, to work patrolling their communities. There was no need for large headquarters and forward operating bases, line of communication troops and logistics support “since all these recruits live and work out on the ground”. And recruiting Iraqis to the government’s cause had a major impact on the insurgents’ ability to recruit and field fighters.

This is an idea that could be adapted to countering criminal gangs in rundown parts of western cities…” READ ON

via Global Dashboard » Conflict and security Cooperation and coherence » Applying Kilcullen’s ideas to urban regeneration.