Culture Archives - The Rebel Gorilla

Pièce de Résistance

Posted by | Leaderology | No Comments

I will now introduce a concept that was, very much, an epiphany for me vis-à-vis the study and application of command and control.  The centrepiece of what I call Gorilla Leadership, the Boyd Decision-Action Cycle is a fundamental concept to a leadership bias, personal and organizational.


Also known as the OODA Loop, f the Boyd (Decision-Action) Cycle is essential to understanding and fostering a leader-biased culture in any organization. P@

Pictured here is the Boyd Decision-Action Cycle.  It was devised by Colonel John Boyd, The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Coram, Robert; Little, Brown and Company, 2002), who was inspirational as he was controversial.  He came up with the concept when he was analysing the outcome of dog fights during the Korean War between US and communist aircraft.  You will excuse my lack of attention to the details, as I am an infantryman and too much airforce talk bores and evades me.  Suffice to say that the communist forces had a much more capable aircraft in terms of speed and firepower but they were being shot down in not-insignificant numbers by the US Airforce.  Boyd determined that the reason was the US aircraft had a cockpit that afforded the pilot much better visibility and hence situational and positional awareness than their enemy.  Boyd deduced that US pilots could better observe the tactics of their opponent, orient themselves advantageously and launch their ordinance at the decisive moment.  His theory was fundamental to the design of modern day fighter aircraft in the United States.

Boyd is often referred to as a Warrior Scholar, because his analytical skills were rivalled by his knowledge of arts and sciences.  His scientific acumen in the technical world was evident in the influence he had on a generation of aviation, but he was also somewhat of a historian, and an eclectic one at that.  Boyd reverse-engineered many of the key battles of human history and deduced that the forces that could execute the Decision-Action Cycle, often referred to as the OODA Loop, more rapidly than their opponent would usually end up being the victor.  So compelling was his analyses and theories that the United States Marine Corps quickly recruited him as a  professor in the USMC University at Quantico, Virginia.  That was a stroke of luck for Boyd because his big personality and the commensurate size of his oral cavity caused him to become somewhat of an outsider in the fighter jock community.  It was a stroke of luck for the Marine Corps also, because embracing the theory of the Boyd Cycle had a profound impact on the operational effectiveness of perhaps the most formidable mass fighting force the world has ever seen: The few, the proud, the Marines!

With this as an introduction, my next few posts will elaborate on the OODA Loop, the Holy Grail of leader-biased command.


What’s in a Name?

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Leader-biased Comd.001

A Leader in the truest sense of the label.

What is in a name?  Everything, I would suggest.  There is probably nothing that plays a bigger part in a person’s life than that person’s name.  Decades ago Dale Carnegie canonized the principles of making friends and influencing people, and his third principle was “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language“.  The first thing people do when they meet is offer their name, the first thing we do when we welcome a pet into the home is name it.  Names are labels, and labels are a pre-occupation of human kind.  Listen to politicians and pundits in debates, they will overwhelm you with simplistic labels that often pack very deep and complex meanings.  Just as often the definition underlying such labels are lost on or misconstrued by the audience, but that doesn’t hinder the debate.

Authority biased Comd.001

Better to call this person a “dictator” than a “leader”?

When I was with the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman our staff began using the default term “stakeholders” to refer to the people we served but I quickly intervened.  That term was already in use by the Department in reference to the major advocacy groups and individuals in the veterans community.  They were most certainly NOT our stakeholders.  In fact, several of the major groups had encouraged the government not to create an ombudsman position, insisting that they already fulfilled that function.  Nothing could be further from the truth, however.  Their stake in our existence was minimal, the real stakeholders were the veterans themselves and their families.  Indeed there were occasions where the Department’s so-called “stakeholders” were implicated in the complaints we received from our true “stakeholders”.  I felt that was a very important distinction that had to be made and consciously embraced in order to nurture within the Office a culture of empathy and commitment towards our veterans and their families.

Mgt biaased Comd.001

There is a lot in a name, so people must understand the concepts beneath the label. P@

This brings me to the point of this post, in fact the point of this entire site.  I submit that we use the term “Leader” too loosely.  In his book “Irresponsible Government: The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada” fallen-Conservative caucus member Brent Rathegeber asserts that in the capacity of Prime Minister the party “leader” should not be a “lord” over the caucus – his words.  I would inject other labels such as ruler, dictator, director, chief, or even the title “commander” because in the Gorilla Command Model the “leader” has a very precise meaning.  I hasten to add that, in the Model, the attributes of leadership, management, and authority are not mutually exclusive.  Although a person in charge (PIC) may choose a singular approach to command, a PIC who governs autocratically can still be considered leader-biased so long as the collective end-state is ahead of the competition and serves a common or greater good.

This website is not about politics, but I couldn't resist. P@

This website is not about politics, but I couldn’t resist. P@

In the final analysis, I am under no illusion that we could assign labels to supervisors that more precisely describe their method.  That would be inconvenient and confusing.  Suffice to say that anybody with a genuine desire to serve humankind in whatever capacity at any level will discriminate between the various approaches to stewardship.