What is the OODA Loop?

The OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) is a strategic framework for decision making. It was a concept developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd, and was first presented in his briefing “Destruction and Creation”. We use it in our consultancy practice to assess whether an organisation has in place the appropriate frameworks (how they think about things) and methods (how they do things) to guide their decision making. It is used as a decision making troubleshooting tool.

The OODA loop framework has been adopted by a wide variety of disciplines, including business, government, military strategy and sports. It consists of a four-step approach to decision-making that focuses on filtering available information, putting it in context and quickly making the most appropriate decision while also understanding that changes can be made as more data becomes available.

Breakdown of the OODA Loop

Observation is the process of scanning the environment to identify any future changes that might impact your operations or the ability achieve your objectives. It’s about staying alert and noticing potential red flags that might impact the success of your organisation and monitoring market trends and staying informed about what’s happening in your industry. What if something goes wrong? What if we’re not prepared? What if something changes?

Orientation is the process of understanding the situation and what it means. This includes gathering information from multiple sources (observation), interpreting that information (analysis) and forming situational awareness (sense making).

Decide is the process of weighing options to determine the best course of action given the orientation. This step can involve complex computations based on numerous factors as well as rapid decision-making and adjustments to plans or actions.

Act is when you put into action what was decided upon in Step 2 – Decide.

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