Wednesday, 28 November 2007

What’s the use of all this?

After publishing that last post, I didn’t feel like continuing my conference presentation or my Master’s thesis (funny how you always find ways to procrastinate) and instead decided to write about the futility of it all.

Now this doesn’t have much to do about the fact that here in Helsinki, we now have daylight for about 8 hours, tops, per day, but more about the fact that there are reams and reams of paper written about how one should manage a firm or build a strategy to get filthy rich.

And what good are they doing?

Even though I lambasted the RBV and core competencies on the previous posts, I cannot deny that they, too, have their uses. However, what we’re sometimes seriously lacking is a simple, common-sense view of a dynamic competitive situation, something that’s so simple that you could actually learn most of it without doing a Ph. D.

Since most managers do not have Ph. D.s, and evidently some of them are doing very well, business must not be rocket science. (My own experience pretty much confirms this - for those of you who haven’t tried consulting in any form, let me tell you that even at the very highest levels the decisions are not always made with unlimited rationality and superior intelligence.)

I’m not deluding myself thinking that managers would particularly need a new management hypothesis, even if that’s as good as this Boydian one, but there are still uses for a simple theory. Panu, my co-writer, could tell you all about why - should you want to improve your performance - you must first have a hypothesis so you can compare what really happens to what you expected to happen, and then make adjustments to your intuition so that next time you understand the process even better.

Boyd’s theory of maneuver conflict is simple, fits competitive situation, and explains quite a lot without going into details. It certainly doesn’t explain everything, but it explains enough so that it is useful.

That’s why I like it.

And that’s why I’m convinced that writing this blog isn’t waste of time.


Brad said...

Found your site recently thanks to Ryan Holiday. I want to know more about Boyd and the OODA Loop. What should I be reading?

Panu Kinnari said...

This blog :)

In addition to that I would recommend starting with Robert Corams book Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.

After that it is really up to you. If you dare you could dive straight to his briefings that can be found from I can also recommend Certain to Win by Chet Richards.

Now that I think of it. Maybe I should write a post about literature that we have read and of those we have on our reading list.

J. M. Korhonen said...

Yeah, do that Panu!

I second Robert Coram's book, too. There's also a shorter book "Mind of War" which covers much of the same material. But it was Coram's book which got me started on Boyd.

We'd need to do some kind of an introduction, too.