The Computer That Predicted the U.S. Would Win in Vietnam

The crucial factors were always the intentions of Hanoi, the will of the Viet Cong, the state of South Vietnamese politics, and the loyalties of the peasants. Not only were we deeply ignorant of these factors, but because they could never be reduced to charts and calculations, no serious effort was made to explore them.

Fair warning: the article doesn’t offer much evidence such a computer existed, but the cautionary message is still relevant. Scientific management from Taylor to Six Sigma to Lean emphasizes what can be reliably measured. This approach works best when the value drivers are easy to quantify, such as customer churn, and when the process itself has been largely standardized. Neither was true of the Vietnam War.

The Computer That Predicted the U.S. Would Win in Vietnam