Boyd and Beyond Boston 2013: Balancing Pursuasion and Force in The Moral, Mental and Physical Dimensions of Conflict

"Avoid war by every possible means in all possible circumstances, but always act as is it might start at any time. Gather intelligence on the enemy and his mentality, and monitor his movements continuously. Campaign vigorously, both offensively and defensively, but attack mostly with small units; emphasize patrolling, raiding, and skirmishing rather than all out attacks. Replace battles of attrition with the "nonbattle" of maneuver. Strive to end wars successfully by recruiting allies to change the overall balance of power. Subversion is the best path to victory. When diplomacy and subversion are not enough and there must be fighting, it should be done with relational operational methods and tactics that circumvent the most pronounced enemy strengths and exploit enemy weakness." ~Byzantine Strategy, Fifth century, Operational Code

On March 2nd I spent my Saturday at Harvard University Science Center discussing Col John Boyd’s theories and how they apply to life, the humanitarian world and of course law enforcement. It was a small group but as I was soon to learn no less powerful in the realm of learning. Critt Jarvis gave a fascinating and inspiring presentation he called 18 Minutes Over Coffee: God of Mind: On My Own Terms in which he talked about his life’s journey as a young adult struggling through and triumphing over adversity by learning and discovery and changing his point of view on life and what it has to offer. The presentation emphasized the importance of bravery (strength of character), OODA Loops, tempo and a future worth creating on his own terms. The talk was inspirational and the lesson learned were viable to all walks of life as we maneuver through it and the cloudy, stormy times that often times lead to clear vision and the most effective of lives. Critt has indeed choose life on his own terms as he learned from hard lessons about is true capacity for independent action, vitality and growth leading too high level performance in all aspects of his life. It was an inspirational way to start the day.

Marshal Wallace gave a presentation “Independence is the Game of Interaction" where he derived and explained lessons from Boyd’s patterns of conflict and the strategic game of Interaction and isolation to effect significant, positive, lasting, change in economics, politics and relationships. He talked about lessons he has learned in his humanitarian work, also discussed in his book “Opting Out of War:Strategies to Prevent Violent Conflict.” Marshal’s insights have led him and his colleagues to develop successful strategies on how to get there in some the most violent ridden areas in the world. Some would be amazed to learn the ideas are not some long drawn out complex strategies but instead are simple concepts centered on human attributes and behaviors of respect, accountability, fairness and transparency and clear communication of messages and actions that put what we say into up front and open actions. Listening to all the stakeholders, showing common courtesy, leads to developing mutual trust and calm dialog allowing the climate of working together in a dignified way to seek individual and community wide security, necessary services and a voice in the process. People holding each other accountable by keeping their promises in their collective efforts to solve the most complex of problems human conflict goes beyond talk or burying our heads in the sand hoping the problem goes away and instead focusses on planning and action that leads to a legitimate efforts and a legitimate form of governance representing its people. It also takes respecting laws and other cultures, playing by the rules based on those independent cultures, seeing what we have in common as human beings versus emphasizing negative the differences. Marshall laid this out in a simple easy to understand and use matrix.

We also discussed fast versus slow transient maneuvers and that sometimes you must slow down to get it right and that at times speeding up will often lead to failing faster. Marshal also shared his definition of strategy: “A plan for deploying resources physical, mental, social, organizational, psychological and motivational so that they add up to significant positive and lasting change.” I strategy I think viable to not only his work but the work law enforcement is rooted in as well. It was a fascinating presentation that has helped my thinking about what methods and tactics are necessary in our law enforcement efforts to win and low cost in the moral, mental and physical dimensions of conflict which is exactly what I had an open discussion about at Boyd and Beyond Boston.

We also had in attendance a young man Sayem Khan, looking to learn more about these theories and how he can apply them to his humanitarian efforts. Sayem is an educated architect who has traveled to place like Haiti providing his expertise to rebuilding areas ruined by crisis. He has decided to turn his focus much in the same direction as marshal helping others avoid conflict. He and his experience added much to the discussion and learning that took place at Boyd and Beyond Boston.

For me it was a fourteen hour day starting at 6AM and ending at 8PM and fourteen hours well worth spent learning, unlearning and relearning fine tuning shaping and reshaping my own point of views in an effort to become more effective in what I do and the information I share with those of you who read this blog. I thank Critt, Marshall and Sayem for their time and insights and look forward to the next time we meet.

There was a lot more in learned than I have written here that took place on walks for coffee and lunch. As is a normal pattern of behavior when I interact with fellow Boydian thinkers is one long day of discourse is never long enough! Marshall, Critt and Sayem go right ahead and add your thoughts on Boyd and Beyond Boston. It will heighten this post and help in influencing more for Aprils event.

There is discussion about another Boyd and Beyond Boston for April 2013. I will keep you posted on the time and location.

Books discussed and recommended:

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator
Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training
Finite and Infinite Games The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

I am missing acouple of books Critt recommended. Critt send me along your recommendations and i will add.

Stay Oriented!