"We all about that bass, and yeah, the OODA Loop"

The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by military strategist and USAF Colonel John Boyd. Boyd applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the strategic level in military operations.

Called the OODA Loop, the model outlines a four-point decision loop that supports quick, effective and proactive decision-making. The four stages are:

  1. Observe – collect current information from as many sources as practically possible.
  2. Orient – analyze this information, and use it to update your current reality.
  3. Decide – determine a course of action.
  4. Act – follow through on your decision.



Observation/ Evaluation

At this initial point in the loop, we are on the look-out for new information, and need to be aware of unfolding circumstances. The more information we can take in here, the more accurate our perception will be. Like an F-86 pilot with a wide field of vision, you want to capture as much incoming data as possible. The kind of questions we will be asking you are: What's happening in the environment that directly affects me? What's happening that indirectly affects me? What's happening that may have residual affects later on? Were my predictions accurate? Are there any areas where prediction and reality differ significantly?



One of the main problems with decision-making comes at the Orient stage: we all view events in a way that's filtered through our own experiences and perceptions. Boyd identified five main influences:

  • Cultural traditions.
  • Genetic heritage.
  • The ability to analyze and synthesize.
  • Previous experience.
  • New information coming in.
  • Orientation is essentially how you interpret a situation. This then leads directly to your decision.
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    Decisions are really our best guesses, based on the observations we've made and the orientation we're using.
    As such, they should be considered to be fluid works-in-progress. As we keep on cycling through the OODA Loop, and new suggestions keep arriving, these can trigger changes to our decisions and subsequent actions – essentially, we're learning as we continue to cycle through the steps.
    The results of our learning are brought in during the Orient phase, which in turn influences the rest of the decision making process.


    Action/ Intervention

    The Act stage is where we implement our decision. We then cycle back to the Observe stage, as we judge the effects of our actions. This is where actions influence the rest of the cycle, and it's important to keep learning from what we, and possible competitors or opponents, are doing.