Design: The Boyd Pyramid

theboydpyramid

Colonel John Boyd, who made his OODA Loop famous, was concerned with process, not perpective.  If he was he may have come up with the above diagram.  John was a fighter pilot in the Korean War.  He spent the rest of his life trying to understand and explain why he came back from his tours alive.  He was attempting to explain how to design survival.

Many designers are averse to the military and it is to their detriment.  For them I have to suggest participating in Emergency Management when the Incident Command System (ICS) is being applied.  Crisis eliminates any room for concensus or debate.

Part of my life involved hunting.  Also something many designers are averse to.  However, hunting taught me what John Boyd was trying to teach Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine so they would come home.  No video game can teach you what being in the field with a projectile weapon can teach you:

  1. Observation is the acquisition and recognition of targets.  In design this is detecting to find and fiat.  Art and Science.
  2. Orientation is compensating for climate and terrain.  In design this is designing to feel and fit.  Design and Engineering.
  3. Decision is choosing your operation and your weapon.  In design this is developing to function and form.  Skills and Tools.
  4. Action is either maneuvering or firing.  In design this is deploying to forum and foot.  Business and Market.

As you proceed through the process, your options are continually narrowing.  If your options are not narrowing you have recommenced the process at the same or another scale.

Your success not only depends on this sequence, but upon the speed you are able to execute it.  If you are able to cycle faster than your competition, they are acting on conditions that have already changed.

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Universe: Czerepak Framework R0.2

I have been thinking about the terms “convergent” and “divergent” in Tim Brown of IDEO’s Design Thinking and realized that they were products of planar (2 dimensional) thinking.  This has lead me to alter my definitions of what convergent and divergent are and to also redefine “vergent” and add “trivergent”.  I also realized that the convergence point is at the center of the ellipsoid and each verge (radius) point is separate and distinct.

iconuniverse21

Converge, diverge, verge and triverge all come from the same Latin root “verto”, to turn out.  All of the polyhedron vertexes are representations of the intersections of radii with the surface of not a sphere, but an ellipsoid.  Therefore each vertex is a unique dimension or radius.  However, there is one thing that is still not recognized.

iconverge

Roll, Pitch and Yaw ellipses alone are an incorrect representation of orientation in space because they fail to include orientation relative to the observer.  Roll, Pitch and Yaw are flat earth concepts.  You cannot represent an ellipsoid with three radii.  The minimum radial representation of an ellipsoid requires four points on the surface of the ellipsoid.  The tetrahedroid is the minimal representation of the inscription of an ellipsoid.

iconellipsoids

The above three ellipse object and four ellipse object are both ellipsoids, the only difference between them and the three ellipse ellipsoid above them is the perspective–they have been rotated in space.  Using the four dimensional representation gives us the table below:

iconuniverse31

While I was illustrating the above table it became apparent to me that it accurately reflected  John Boyd’s OODA Loop.  It also became apparent to me that the OODA Loop could be conceputally simplified to:

  1. OBSERVE: Range
  2. ORIENT: Direction
  3. DECIDE:  Elevation
  4. ACT: Fire

The OODA Loop or the Czerepak Framework cycle can be graphed as a simple two dimensional sine vertice:

iconunivgraph11

Now, that’s all sure and fine and it provides a way of thinking with a minimum number of variables.  However, if we think about John Boyd as a military combatant it is not the right set of variables.  The model has to cater to the following needs:

  1. OBSERVE: Who and Why
  2. ORIENT: Where and When
  3. DECIDE: What and How
  4. ACT: How Many and How Much

Suddenly, it becomes obvious that in a system involving living organisms there is added complexity and layers of consciousness.  The following table is my first attempt to illustrate this:

iconuniverse42

The yellow row and column headers are what is of importance.  The naming of the white cells will have to come later.  Obviously, there are considerable changes in the order of the columns and rows, but I believe John Boyd is closer to the truth about the process than anyone else.  Therefore I am redefining everyone else’s concept to fit his.  What is important about the table is that in the columns each icon represents a set of ellipses that one ellipse at a time intersects with the ellipses above it to converge on a subset that is the target.

iconunivgraph2

Colonel Boyd’s model was simple.  Deviations from it are based more upon misunderstanding than anything else.  This is the fundamental System Development Lifecycle (SDLC):

  1. OBSERVE = SELECT = SCOPE = CONTROL and COMMAND = STRATEGY = TRIVERGENT THINKING = Why and Who are the exceptions?
  2. ORIENT = INSERT = ANALYSIS = CLIMATE and TERRAIN = TACTIC = DIVERGENT THINKING = When and Where are the exceptions?
  3. DECIDE = UPDATE = DESIGN = FUNCTION and FORM = OPERATION = VERGENT THINKING = How and What are the exceptions?
  4. ACT = DELETE = DEVELOP = QUALITY and QUANTITY = GOAL = CONVERGENT THINKING = How Much and How Many are the exceptions?

“What are we deleting?” You may ask.  We are deleting exceptions that existed in the previous system whatever that system may have been.  We are never dealing with a non-existent system.  We are SELECTing a set of exceptions the current system does not handle.  We are INSERTing those exceptions into the current system.  We are UPDATEing the system to handle those exceptions.  We are DELETEing those exceptions from the system.  I still have to work to reconsider the names for each of the cells, but I am converging on that.  The differences between methodologies are really ones of scale and nothing else.  It’s how many exceptions do you intend to address at a time.

This effort is requiring a lot of work and rework because I have never dealt with eight interrogatives before, however the fit is conceptually the best I have ever had.

Induction, Deduction and Eight States of Change

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

For many years, people with terminal illnesses were an embarrassment for doctors. Someone who could not be cured was evidence of the doctors’ fallibility, and as a result the doctors regularly shunned the dying with the excuse that there was nothing more that could be done (and that there was plenty of other demand on the doctors’ time).

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was a doctor in Switzerland who railed against this unkindness and spent a lot of time with dying people, both comforting and studying them. She wrote a book, called ‘On Death and Dying’ which included a cycle of emotional states that is often referred to (but not exclusively called) the Grief Cycle.

In the ensuing years, it was noticed that this emotional cycle was not exclusive just to the terminally ill, but also other people who were affected by bad news, such as losing their jobs or otherwise being negatively affected by change. The important factor is not that the change is good or bad, but that they perceive it as a significantly negative event.

The Grief Cycle

The Grief Cycle can be shown as in the chart below, indicating the roller-coaster ride of activity and passivity as the person wriggles and turns in their desperate efforts to avoid the change.

The initial state before the cycle is received is stable, at least in terms of the subsequent reaction on hearing the bad news. Compared with the ups and downs to come, even if there is some variation, this is indeed a stable state.

And then, into the calm of this relative paradise, a bombshell bursts…

The Induction/Deduction Change Cycle

I think that the grieving processs is considerably more universal than it first appears.  The grieving process is in reality the way we deal with any change psychologically, social-psychologically or sociologically on a micro, meso or macro scale.  And depending on the scale, the seven stages can occur over minutes, over years, even centuries.

In the list I have below I compare the resistance or friction to change with the action of change:

  • Occurrence – Recept State – Singularity – Exception occurs – Contacts
  • Shock or Disbelief – Cord State- Attempt to maintain current schedule (events) – Factums
  • Denial – Port State- Attempt to maintain current tools (location) – Factories
  • Anger – Record State – Attempt to maintain current domains (products) Factities
  • Bargaining – Report State – Attempt to maintain current attributions (services) – Factors
  • Depression – Accord State – Attempt to maintain current organization (contacts) – Factotums
  • Testing – Apport State – Attempt to maintain current motives (goals) – Factuals
  • Hope – Accept State – Pluralarity – Attempt to maintain existence (reality) – Facts

As you can see the fit with the Systema model is quite good and my “Fact” vocabulary fits well, too.  The process is inductive, you can call it the death cycle.  It works its way through the system structure, be it a person, group or hierarchy.  It also reveals something else, how each level of the organism will react.  Followed by induction, the tearing down of a belief system, we deal with deduction, which is building up a new belief system, the deductive lifecycle.

inducededuce.jpg

At the midpoints of the cycle exist singularities or infinity points.  At the top and bottom of the cycle exist pluralarities or zero points.

The OODA Loop

Colonel John Boyd, understood how to use induction and deduction against the enemy.  He knew that if you could disrupt the timing of your opponent you could disrupt everything else.  If your opponent lost his timing he would be in the wrong location with the wrong product for providing the wrong service to the wrong contact with the wrong goal.  Accelerate your cycle’s timing and your opponent is overwhelmed.

Incompetence

Norman Dixon, in his book, On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, provides a broad range of definitions of military incompetence, however Elizabeth Kübler-Ross boils it down to two phenomna with regard to change:

Getting Stuck

A common problem with the above cycle is that people get stuck in one phase. Thus a person may become stuck in denial, never moving on from the position of not accepting the inevitable future. When it happens, they still keep on denying it, such as the person who has lost their job still going into the city only to sit on a park bench all day.

Getting stuck in denial is common in ‘cool’ cultures (such as in Britain, particularly Southern England) where expressing anger is not acceptable. The person may feel that anger, but may then repress it, bottling it up inside.

Likewise, a person may be stuck in permanent anger (which is itself a form of flight from reality) or repeated bargaining. It is more difficult to get stuck in active states than in passivity, and getting stuck in depression is perhaps a more common ailment.

Going in Circles

Another trap is that when a person moves on to the next phase, they have not completed an earlier phase and so move backwards in cyclic loops that repeat previous emotion and actions. Thus, for example, a person that finds bargaining not to be working, may go back into anger or denial.

Circling is itself a form of avoidance of the inevitable, and going backwards in time may seem to be a way of extending the time before the perceived bad thing happens.

Related Posts:

Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jared Diamond: System Collapse“, posted with vodpod

If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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Systema: Orientational, Decisional, Actual

Orientational
Why – one of the six causalities
Who – one of the six identities within a causality
Decisional
How – one of the six qualities within an identity
What – one of the six quantities within a quality
Actual
Where – one of the six spatialities within a quantity
When – one of the six temporalities within a spatiality

What I have just defined, finally, are the six dimensions of the interrogative hypercube. Six to the sixth power. That’s 46,656 unique combinations.

The temporal, spatial, quantal, qualal, idental and causal entities are each three dimensional, I hazard to guess, because each is a higher level abstraction of the same phenomena. Three dimensional space is an abstraction of three dimensional time; three dimensional quantity is a an abstraction of three dimensional space and so on.

Systema: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act

john_r_boyd_2.jpg

Colonel John R. Boyd of the United States Airforce was a top fighter pilot who in his later years refined his understanding of arial combat into a four step lifecycle:

  1. Observe
  2. Orient
  3. Decide
  4. Act

which came to be known as the OODA Loop. The objective was simple, increase the frequency of your effective strikes to a rate faster than your opponent to disorient him and achieve victory. The diagram to illustrate this, however is less than obvious:

oodaloop02.jpg

As an alternative I prefer the sine wave presentation:

ooda_loop_2.jpg

In this way we can have a better understanding of the OODA Loop over a period of time. Each time you cross the horizontal red axis you strike. One thing that must be noted is that the loop of the system in combat is different than the loop of the system in dialog. The combat loop of System A is closed. It does not wait for the target system to receive input or transmit output. In the following diagram System A is cycling much faster than System B and consequently striking more often:

ooda_loop_03.jpg

Another quality of the OODA Loop is there is the entire cycle does not need to be completed. The following patterns are possible:

ooda_loop_04.jpg

The shape of the cycle is irrelevant as long as you are able to complete the cycle more rapidly than your opponent. This is termed as being “inside the opponent’s loop”.

Another aspect is the ability to “push down” the amplitude of each cycle through proper training. You can act without orientation or decision being necessary if you have conditioned your system to provide the correct response to a given state.

And all of this fits in nicely with the Structured Thinking Lifecycle:

ooda_loop_01.jpg

The difference is that Boyd has:

  1. Factored Repeat, Refine, Record into Observe
  2. Factored Report, Relate, Revise into Orient
  3. Factored Revise, Relate, Report into Decide
  4. Factored Record, Refine, Repeat into Act

Thus, the OODA Loop and the Structured Thinking Lifecycle complement each other nicely. All you have to do is choose your medium.