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How fast is your Company's OODA Loop?
by Jim Opfer on 

 

The US Air Force paid a lot of money to research why some pilots get shot down and why others don't.  The results of the study:  The pilots with the fastest OODA loops don't get shot down.

 

 

What is an OODA loop?  OODA stands for:  Observe, Orient, Decide, and ACT!

 

Just like the fighter pilot needs a fast OODA loop to keep from getting shot down, Any company, large or small, needs a fast OODA loop to be successful. 

 

Let's look at each of these four words...

 

Observe - Oftentimes, it's relatively easy to observe.  You observe the market as it changes.  You observe your competition. You observe technology as it evolves.  You observe how your product or service is being accepted by your customers.  You also might very well see new opportunities for alliances with new partners.

 

Orient - The next step gets harder.  As a result of observing, you probably have to orient.  What does this mean?  It might mean that you have to get to market faster with a new product or a new software release. It could mean that you realize that you really need a partner.  Whatever it means, you probably have to do something differently.

 

Decide - Now comes the hard part.  You have to decide what to do.  The Fighter pilot who sees a missile headed at him has no time to delay a decision if he wants to stay alive.  Likewise, you cannot delay making those hard decisions that are needed to make your company successful.

 

ACT! - For the fighter pilot this might be easy. For your company, this might very well be the most difficult step in the OODA loop.  While it oftentimes is relatively easy to observe, orient, and decide; acting can be the most difficult.  WHY?  Taking action moves beyond, talk and meetings and studies to ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING, and most probably, doing something FAST!  Taking action might mean actually spending money.  Taking action might mean replacing someone.  Taking action might mean abandoning a service or product.  No matter how you look at it, taking action probably means changing the status quo.

 

The Bottom line:  The company with the fastest OODA loop wins!

 

Jim

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RE: How fast is your Company's OODA Loop? by kevinshipman on

Good morning Jim! Great to re-connect...just finished reading "Boyd" (my first introduction to the OODA Loop). Fascinating Man with a brilliant career. But one of his lasting legacies will be the OODA Loop concept, which certainly has strategic and tactical disruptive applications in business.

 

I have no doubt that your blog faithful are pretty sharp, but I think you may need to dedicate some more ink to this topic - deliberately compressing decision cycles and appearing unpredictable or random, may be counterintuitive.

 

Cheers!  Kevin/Jakarta

 
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