Colonel John Boyd



How do you review a whole book in a few words?

Allow me one approach. To highlight a nugget that changed my vantage point. Via a personal story (or two)… by highlighting just one of the chapters. Each chapter is worthy, it just happens that this chapter immediately triggered a “reset” in thoughts about layoffs after breakfast one morning…

Chapter III
Certain to Win by Chet Richards

Colonel John Boyd is reported to have extracted four significant factors from his study of the Blitzkrieg, and called it creating “an organizational climate for operational success:”

  1. Einheit: Mutual trust, unity, and cohesion
  2. Fingerspitzengefuhl: Intuitive feel, especially for complex and potentially chaotic situations
  3. Auftragstaktik: Mission, generally considered as a contract between superior and subordinate
  4. Schwerpunkt: Any concept that provides focus and direction to the operation

Those that have studied the Toyota Production System (TPS also known as Lean Manufacturing) in any depth have reported the cultural aspect of Lean that is extremely difficult to duplicate. Especially in the West where we have more concern about the next quarter’s numbers than building victory upon victory towards a long-term vision of success. One of the reasons I have been so interested is to see what Bob Nardelli is going to do at Chrysler LLC (now a privately held firm). But I digress…

Chet Richards states that it is “no accident” that mutual trust heads this list. It is also the biggest reason that I and most other Constraints Management gurus are so opposed to lay offs. For me, two reasons are core: first, lay offs send the wrong message. They say, “You are not worthy.”

At breakfast last week, the conversation at the next table was about the slow down in the local economy. One gentleman commented that he was gearing up for the “I can do my job and Fred’s job, whereas Fred can only do his job.” How sad. Competition not against other companies in the marketplace, but for one another’s job!

The concept of trust within the firm goes right out the window!

Second, lay offs costs thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in waste. Anti-Lean to the max! As I have mentioned before, Jesse Jackson is right when he says that America cannot afford to throw people away!

Several times in Certain to Win, Richards explains a concept that I had not given enough thought: there are people in your organization that do not belong. Even if your payroll is four people! Before studying this book at length, I would have made this statement to all the employees of any company that I might purchase or lead as interim CEO:

“There will be no layoffs. Period.”

Today, I would state it differently. “There will be no layoffs. However, there are people on the payroll that do not belong here. During the next 30 days, I will identify who you are and outplace you, or, your attitude will make a sharp 180-degree turn and you will become a positive force to advance the mission of this company.”

In order to create an agile force in the marketplace, trust is required.

FYI: Our collective trust has been broken by Wall Street.

Wanted: Leaders to restore that trust.

P.S. This Air Force Colonel is one of the most respected officers… in the United States Marine Corps!
P.P.S. He is also considered to be the father of the F-16 aircraft. Here is part of the story in his own words: Not the F-15 as transcribed in the video. Via YouTube


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