Tag Archives: time-shifting

Time-Shifting the OODA Loop

The Pentagon’s New Map: Book Proposal,” by Thomas Barnett, letter to Jennifer Gates and Todd Shuster, 2002, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/pnm/proposal.htm.

In the Pines,” by Smog, A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, 31 May 2005, http://www.lyrics007.com/Smog%20Lyrics/In%20the%20Pines%20Lyrics.html (available from Amazon.com).

Council of Trent,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, 22 July 2005, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Trent.

10 for 10,” by Steve Rubel, Micro Persuasion, 21 July 2005, http://www.micropersuasion.com/2005/07/10_for_10.html (from New Persuasion, also at Between Lawyers, Site 9, Telagon Sichelputzer).

“Ten Trends Let Me Take Charge,” by Nellie Lide, New Persuasion, 27 July 2005, http://newpersuasion.typepad.com/new_persuasion/2005/07/ten_trends_plus.html.

“The longest train I ever saw
Went down that Georgia line
The engine went by at six o’clock
And the cab went by at nine”

– Smog, In the Pines

An interesting article on “technology-driven trends will revolutionize how companies communicate,” which are really just techniques for fighting wars.

Most of them fit nicely with theories of modern war, like the mass-movement-based 4th Generation War (or “NetWar“)

1. The Long Tail – small players can collectively make up a market that rivals the giants. As Seth says, small is the new big. This applies equally for journalism as well as for marketers.

This refers to the super-empowerment of “small players,” which allow even the little guys to change world history. 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta shows the power of the long tail.

5. Citizen Marketing – consumers will organize – either on their own or with the help of companies – to evangelize products they love and vilify those they don’t

The peaceful Christian NetStruggle is an example of this citizen marketing in action — converts become evangelizers for new converts.

10. Decentralized Communication – armies of individual employees will use technology to become the voice of every company; like it or not. The solo singer is dead. Long live the chorus.

Why has the Iraqi insurgency been so hard to fight? Because of its decentralized communication.

One “technology” really caught my eye though, because it seems so different from what we are told makes wise warriors

3. Timeshifting – consumers will increasingly want to devour media on their own time, on the mobile device of their choice and without commercials

To understand how revolutionary the concept of timeshifting is, take a look at Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s Observe-Orient-Decide-Act decision cycle, sometimes called the “OODA Loop”

A Model of Human Thought

In the OODA loop, we observe the world, and then we orient (“make sense of it”). Most of the time, we go right into action after orientation — we are on autopilot (do you decide what foot to move next when walking? no — your orientation implicitly guides and controls you). Sometimes, we take the time to decide what to do, and then act (and observe that we made a decision, starting a whole new OODA loop!). In any case, the action effects the world, and the OODA loop begins again.

Modern militaries — whether our super high-tech Army or al-Qaeda’s super-empowered terrorists — try to get inside the enemy’s OODA loop. This means they try to go from Observation to Action before the enemy can. If you can Act before your enemy has acted, they will be acting on observations that are now out-of-date. If you are really good at this, your enemy will become paralyzed with doubt, because he knows he will never have observations that are up-to-date.

In other words, modern war theory teaches the warrior to “time-now,” to do things faster. Yet here is this idea to “time-shift,” in a list of other ideas that do fit with known keys to victory.

What is going on here? Has there ever been an example of a successful time-shift in struggle, where a fighter won by going outside his enemy’s OODA loop?

Yes:

The Council of Trent (Italian: Trento) was an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in discontinuous sessions between 1545 and 1563 [a generation! — tdaxp] in response to the Protestant Reformation. It clearly specified Catholic doctrines on salvation, the sacraments and the Biblical canon, in opposition to the Protestants, and standardized the Mass throughout the church, largely abolishing local variations; this became called the “Tridentine Mass”, after Trent.

Establishment Power: The Catholic Church
Insurgent Power: Protestantism
Establishment Strategy: Get Outside the Enemy’s OODA Loop (very long “orientation” period)
Rejected Strategy: quest for Schwerpunkt/ch’i (decisive battle)
Outcome: Success (within a century, more Catholics than before the Reformation)

Hmmm… anything more recent?

Most importantly, this book [The Pentagon’s New Map — tdaxp] will link our nation’s foreign policy vision to its domestic security strategy in a way no one has done before. It will argue that America’s number one foreign policy goal in the 21st Century will be to shrink the Gap—not just “mind the Gap” in some Cold War-like standoff. During the Cold War it was enough just to wait the Soviets out [for 40 years, two generations!! — tdaxp], hoping they would fail. But that approach doesn’t make any sense with the Gap, which is already defined by failures such as authoritarian rule, poor economic connectivity to the outside world, endemic conflicts and epidemics, and routine acts of terror and genocide. The clock is already running out on these two billion people, which is why rooting out the dangers that keep these states from attracting direly needed foreign investments and thus growing economically—dictators, radical fundamentalists, terror networks—is so crucial.

Establishment Power: The United States of America
Insurgent Power: Communism
Establishment Strategy: Get Outside the Enemy’s OODA Loop (very long “observation” period)
Rejected Strategy: quest for Schwerpunkt/ch’i (decisive battle)
Outcome: Success (nearly all Communists regimes changed or transformed)

Of course, sometimes time-shifting the OODA loop is a sign of weakness, but that is a post for another time…