OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Or as my friend John Kennedy puts it…
Break it down ~ Think it thru ~ EXECUTE !©
Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses.
Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form your current mental perspective.
Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective.
Action: the physical playing-out of decisions.
Of course, while this is taking place the situation may be changing. It is sometimes necessary to cancel a planned action in order to meet the changes.
The OODA loop was originally developed by military strategist USAF Colonel John Boyd. Boyd was looking for a way to improve the performance of fighter pilots in air to air combat (dog fights). He realized that the decision cycle was four steps.
When you think about an average day you execute the OODA loop thousands of times. Driving your car in traffic you ‘Observe’ other vehicles, ‘Orient’ yourself and surroundings, ‘Decide’ what action to take, and then take the ‘Action’. As soon as the action is taken you ‘Observe’ anew and the cycle begins again.
In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman divides our thinking into two systems: system one (fast) and system two (slow). System one is the intuitive, lightning quick thinking that answers the question: what’s 1 + 1? System one is the silent author of many of the choices we make, and we are not even aware that the bus is being driven or that system one is the driver. System two is the laborious uncomfortable thinking that is brought on by questions like: What’s 167 X 234?
Thinking back to the previous post and the work done by Dr. Kahneman: the OODA loop requires quality input to help system one, if you have to engage system two it will slow the flow of the OODA loop. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but it can be minimized.
A good interactive planning session is rife with OODA. If everyone is working together to build a plan then the OODA loop is executed each time an activity or logic tie is added or changed during the session. So optimizing the fluid execution of the OODA loop will help create a more interactive and productive planning session. The Graphical Path Method enables planners to get instant visual feedback on the entire evolving model each time a change is made. This real time feedback keeps the OODA flowing and by optimizing flow the session becomes infinitely more productive. At PMA Technologies we say: Seeing is Planning, to see a video of NetPoint in action click on the plan.
Boyd emphasized that this decision cycle is the central mechanism enabling adaptation (apart from natural selection) and is therefore critical to survival. Planners: Unite, Evolve, Engage.