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Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business Paperback – June 24, 2004


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Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business + Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War + The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris, Corp. (June 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1413453767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1413453768
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chet Richards was a close associate of the late US Air Force Colonel John Boyd beginning in the mid-1970s. He has consulted with a number of aerospace and professional services companies and has lectured at the Air War College and the Army's Command and General Staff College. He is the author of A Swift, Elusive Sword and other works on applications of Boyd's strategy. Chet holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Mississippi and maintains a business and communications strategy practice with Tarkenton & Addams, Inc., a public relations firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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To me this book shed a light on Boyd's ideas and explained a lot.
N. Engelen
I was particularly impressed by this book with the very cogent and pertinent examples of how Boyd's theories apply to the business world.
John G. Wilcox
Chet Richards has done a great job of taking John Boyd's work and applying it to the arena of business.
Kevin Francis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Lichung Liu on July 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I write reviews rarely, and only on occasion when I feel strongly enough about something and want to make sure others are aware of it. Despite the high ratings and raving reviews, this book disappoints. I bought this book because I want to learn how to apply OODA model to high stress situations where decision must be made. This is frequently the case in the business world. I expected the author to at least dive into each of the O-O-D-A step, draw its application in business terms, and provide case studies on when OODA was applies correctly and incorrectly. Unfortunately, that is not how the book is structured.

The book lacks organization, or word differently, it does not "start with the end in mind". Instead of start the book with OODA, the book dives straight into historical events, most of which are military based. Of the time when business organization are mentioned (e.g, Southwest, Dell), the author never draw the parallel or explain how the strategic concept applies. If this is a book about business, then at least explain how Southwest or Dell adopted the strategy correctly, or how Chrysler or Enron did otherwise. As of page 100, there isn't a single business case study.

The first 100 pages of the book, out of 187 pages, is used to convince you the validity of Boyd's principles, with the first paragraph on page 100 stating "In the previous chapters, I tried to convince you that the physical characteristics, such as....... do not guarantee victory in any highly competitive situation...". Unfortunately, I do not need to be convinced. This is not a common book shelved in bookstores. If the audience has to actively seek out of the book, then they have already been convinced the validity of the OODA loop, and is seeking for real world application.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lane Desborough on August 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Certain to Win" is an interpretation of how to apply John Boyd's warfighting principles to business, written by someone who worked with Boyd. If you are a member of a group or team in competition for something, this book is a must-read.

I learned of John Boyd after his death in 1997. At that time all I knew was that as a fighter pilot, Boyd had developed an Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) theory to explain how some pilots and aircraft were more successful than others. I also learned that very little of Boyd's work was captured in written form - he preferred to deliver his message via marathon briefings.

When Robert Coram's biography "Boyd, the Fighter Pilot who Changed the Art of War" was published in 2002, I immediately snapped it up. Little did I know this would set me on a path which has helped me immeasurably as I grapple with life in corporate America.

Boyd is the modern day analog of Percy Scott and William Sims, two men who revolutionized gunfire at sea in the early part of the twentieth century. Many parallels exist in the methods these three men used to effect change in large bureaucracies - insights which are immediately applicable today in large corporations which struggle with innovation and growth amid the presence of lithe, agile, often unforeseen threats to their very existence.

In Coram's biography of Boyd, he spends a great deal of time describing Boyd's acolytes: Chet Richards, Raymond Leopold, Chuck Spinney, Jim Burton, and Pierre Sprey. These men worked with Boyd. They inspired and drew inspiration from him. Many continue to evangelize and expand on Boyd's ideas. One of the most prolific of Boyd's acolytes is Chet Richards. Chet has extended and reinterpreted Boyd's work in a business rather than military setting.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wiley B. Howard Jr. on December 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Certain to Win" is a book about "making things happen". It breaks through the old concepts of long meetings and over analysis of a situation by "cutting to the chase" and taking action by intelligently using time and knowledge gained from current and past experiences in a rapid manner. Dr Richards illustrates this by using historical examples where the entity that took action was determined the winner, and that the winner was often a force less likely to win.

Many people experienced with managing/leading others will be able to relate to examples in their lives where people provide a lot of great ideas, but fail to act on them for one reason or another. This book helps people break through that challenge by providing actionable ideas/concepts that have been time tested via both military and commercial applications. Additionally, this book is designed to be employed by the reader by virtue of its direct and succinct approach to taking positive action in chaotic situations. The end of his book follows up with a number of references that can be sought for further study.

Key issues that challenge leaders are addressed in this book such as:

Creating/establishing a Vision (Concepts for team building)

Creating a winning climate in a highly competitive environment

How to survive and thrive in a Chaotic environment on your own terms

Provides leaders managerial and leadership concepts that are not mainstream

The strength of this book lies in its concepts of making rapid decisions and taking action. These very concepts are used by the military in crisis action planning, conducting combat operations, leading and managing U.S. Marines.
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