OODA loops? Shmooda loops!

The Family Business Exec MBA program is now underway, and time is becoming a fond and distant memory.  I did check James Fallows’ blog today and found a most interesting post by my old friend Chuck Spinney.  Chuck is sailing somewhere in the eastern Med but I guess he’s found a marina with good Internet access.

Anyway, Chuck reminds us that wondering whether McCain is inside Obama’s OODA loop is the wrong or at least an incomplete way to look at political campaigns.  It’s sort of like in business:  You can operate inside your opponent’s OODA loops all you want, but if the customer (in this case, we the people) choose your competitor, you lose.

This means, as Chuck points out, that moral conflict and grand strategy move to the fore.  The reason is that “operating inside opponents’ OODA loops” represents the destructive side of conflict.  You can see this clearly in Patterns, Chart 141, if you look for the levels where something like “operate inside their OODA loops” appears.  But ultimately, winning campaigns means attracting customers / voters to your side, and this is where grand strategy and the attractive elements of moral conflict come in (see, e.g., Patterns, 139-144, and Strategic Game, particularly 46-59).

Chuck points out that when you look at it in this light, McCain might well be operating inside Obama’s OODA loops, or he might not — it’s really too soon to tell — but in the end, it may not matter.  Chuck is not predicting that Obama is going to win.  He does remind us, though, that air-to-air combat is one thing, but political campaigns are a different form of conflict entirely.

Check out Fallows’ piece.

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