2 • Creating a Lean R&D System
note the changing levels of jellysh and postulate something about river
health, observe the horseshoe crab mating season and speculate on their
future population, or a thousand other things. We are not shore-based
contractors looking at pilings and assessing our year’s business in dock
Take a look around you right now. Are you in a room? How would that
room look to you if you were an interior designer? How would it look to
you as an architect, a stone mason, an HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning) technician, a building inspector, an ergonomist, or a child?
How would a blind or deaf person perceive that room?
Each of us has mental models, lenses through which we perceive the
world. Some call them neural networks; others call them paradigms. Bob
Burdick, a retired IBM engineer, collectively calls these lenses our be state,
while John Boyd, a famous military strategist and thinker,
our orientation. ese mental models come from our genetics, our physi-
cal attributes, our experiences, our training, and our likes and dislikes.
ese mental models provide us with two very important things: the abil-
ity to see what is important, and the ability to suppress what is not. e
separation of our observations into “important” and “unimportant” is an
object lesson in a fundamental Taoist principle known as duality. When
we observe something, and make a judgment about it, we immediately
create its “dual” opposite (hence “duality”
). e Tao De Jing (Book of
the Way) points out that there can be no “good” without its dual oppo-
site “bad,” no “beauty” without “ugliness.” We cannot make something
“observable” without making other things “hidden” and this duality is
Lieutenant Colonel John R. Boyd published very little. Most of his work, which is legendary in
military circles and within the community that researches fast-learning strategy, was devel-
oped on acetates for live presentations, or “briefs,” which for Boyd might last 8, 12, or 16 hours.
Nevertheless, two excellent references to Boyd include Robert Coram’s biography, Boyd: e
Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (New York: Back Bay Books, 2004), and Frans P. B.
Osinga’s excellent analysis of his sources, Science Strategy and War: e Strategic eory of John
Boyd (New York: Routledge, 2007).
Duality is a Taoist term for separation or barrier between us and the “real” fabric of the universe—