IOHAI Peter Hermann
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Peter Hermann
“... what is needed is a vision rooted in human nature so noble, so attractive that it not only attracts the uncommitted and magnifies the spirit and strength of its adherents, but also undermines the dedication and determination of any competitors or adversaries ...” John Boyd, "Patterns of Conflict"

IOHAI is a leadership matrix initially developed by Colonel John Boyd, evolving out of his studies on Maneuver Warfare and the development and application of the OODA Loop. It is presented in incipient form in "Patterns of Conflict" (Slide 145) and "Organic Design for Command and Control" (Slides 12-17).

IOHAI provides a basis for developing leaders capable of pursuing what he described as "a vision so noble", a logical progression from the more basic operational concept of "schwerpunkt". Although military in origin and original intent, it has wide ranging application in every field of human endeavour where people unite to achieve a common end.


Expounding the Acronym


Ability to look into and discern the inner nature or working of things. According to Boyd, leaders must be trained in analysis techniques. This often requires 'unlearning' previous thinking patterns.


An interactive process of many-sided implicit cross-referencing projections, empathies, correlations, reactions and rejections that is shaped by and shapes the interplay of significant relationships, genetic heritage, cultural tradition, previous experiences, unfolding circumstances, and analyses & synthesis.

Boyd's view was that a leader must be familiar with several different orientations, and able to switch between them at will. Boyd's Orientation model is part of his Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) decision loop. The OODA model has been used in the military and is gaining popularity in the business community, though it is questionable how many people really understand it. This is partly because the OODA Loop is much more sophisticated than it looks. So with good intent it has often been simplified to the extent that it is either no longer an accurate model, or equally as bad, that people now think they know all that there is to know. Some also simplistically assume that all that matters is how quickly one cycles through the loop.


Power to perceive or create interaction of apparently disconnected events or entities in a connected way, or in Boyd's parlance "building snowmobiles".

This is synthesis and reasoning by analogy, of which Boyd was a master, much to the chagrin Pierre Sprey the master analyst. Boyd never described a formal method for analysis and synthesis but It is most clearly set out in his papers "Conceptual Spiral" and "Destruction and Creation". Bill Dettmer has also shown how to use The Logical Thinking Process from The Theory of Constraints in conjunction with Boyd's Maneuver Conflict framework.


Originally to Boyd it was the idea of "asymmetrical fast transients", or the ability to transition quickly from one state to the other. After work on the "Energy Maneuverability Theory" he analysed this as being one of the reasons for the 10:1 kill ratio of the F-86 over the MIG-15 in Korea and with this in mind designed it into the F-16 prototype with the legendary "buttonhook turn". Although he hadn't articulated it at the time it was an undergirding component of "The Aerial Attack Study" and "New Conception of Air-to-Air Combat" .

He later extended the idea to include the ability to shift from one unfolding pattern of ideas and actions to another by being able to transition from one orientation to another. He correctly reasoned that if you could empathically utilise the perspective of an adversary's OODA Loop, then you could in Sun Tzu paraphrase "get inside the mind of the opposing general".


Intrinsic as opposed to extrinsic motivation - to think and take action without being urged. This also means taking risk. Boyd's view was that military organisations and all others must encourage calculated risk taking. Therefore an organization must also tolerate failure. Boyd horrified a European base commander when he criticised his training by telling him "he needed to kill a few pilots", a common occurrence at Nellis.



Peter Hermann owns and operates his own company, Living Loans which specialises in Mortgage Broking and Capital Raising.

He has been an avid researcher into military strategy and history and maintains a keen interest in, among other things, theology, philosophy and emergency management.

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"Seeing what others do not see is called brilliance, knowing what others do not know is called genius." Huainanzi