Why explore the notions of applied imagination, suggested by Alex Osborn, and Destruction and Creation by John Boyd?
Alex Osborn (1888 – 1966)
Alex Osborn is known as the father of “brain storming,” but his contribution in the area of imagination and creativity is germane to the subject matter of this book. His book, Applied Imagination, Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem-solving, published in 1953 and currently out of print, was re-printed thirty-one times with 250,000 copies in print by 1963. A quote on the front cover of the 31st printing and 3rd revised edition was indicative of the contents. He quoted Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Einstein further stated, “for knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Osborn’s ideas clearly help to substantiate Einstein’s statement. His text sought mainly to cover the creative side of imagination, especially in its application to problem solving.
For Osborn creative imagination had two functions. One is to hunt; the other is to change what is found. In its hunting function, our talent can serve us as a searchlight with which we can find that which is not really new, but is new to us. This is discovery rather than invention. He stressed that the hunting function should not be too sharply divorced from the changing function.
John Boyd (1927 – 1997)
Colonel John (Richard) Boyd was a United States Air Force fighter pilot extraordinaire and Pentagon consultant of the late 20th century, whose theories have been highly influential in the military, sports, and business worlds.
His contribution to the security of the United States cannot be overstated. For example, in a letter to the editor of Inside the Pentagon, former Commandant of the Marine Corps General C. Krulak said “The Iraqi army collapsed morally and intellectually under the onslaught of American and Coalition forces. John Boyd was an architect of that victory as surely as if he’d commanded a fighter wing or maneuver a division in the desert.”
John Boyd was a truly amazing individual: in the 1960’s he created the Energy-Maneuverability Theory with civilian mathematician Thomas Christie which was largely responsible for the successful development of the F-15 and F-16 Fighter, as well as several others. He also developed the concept and process by which an entity reacts to an event called the OODA Loop, a key in the aerial combat thought process. Boyd was a deep thinker.
Boyd quoted Thomas Kuhn five times in an excellent white paper. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Kuhn discusses the concept of a paradigm and on page ten he provides two characteristics of achievement that, for Kuhn, helps to define a paradigm:
Characteristic One: Achievement that is sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity.
Characteristic Two: Simultaneously, the achievement was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.
Boyd’s contribution to the concepts presented in this book was a single white paper labored over for several years with the help of his highly influential and educated friends. A complete chapter is dedicated to Osborn and Boyd in the book.
Osborn and Boyd were high achievers. Their legacy points the way to a sustainable paradigm. Read more about how their thoughts influenced the development of the Pattern Engine, the ConPriDigm, and my book — in my book.
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