Using OODA Loops – Effective Decision Making

Originally developed by John Boyd, a former US Airforce Colonel, OODA Loops were originally used for decision making in air combat.

Boyd used the model to compare US aircraft to those in the Soviet Union to determine how best to improve the aircraft in the US. OODA loops were used to make decisions on how best to make these improvements.

Being successful in business often means being proactive. Being one step ahead of everyone else being fully prepared for what the competition might do next.

Strategies need to be constantly reviewed and update, and understanding how best to do that requires careful planning, strategic thinking and clear decision making.

Just like comparing US aircraft with those in the Soviet Union, OODA loops can be used to look at how to compare policies, procedures, products, services and everything else business to look at the nest way of making improvements. OODA Loops help us to make more effective decisions.

Here’s how it works.

OODA Loops look at a four step decision making loop. It provides an easy way to make quick and effective decision making. More importantly, helps you to to do this proactively.

OODA stands for:

Observe – Using as many sources of information as possible to collect data and information. Think about:

  • What’s happening in my current world
  • What has a direct and indirect impact on me, my team or my business
  • What might have an impact later
  • Am I right and how can i prove it

Orient – look at and analyse the information that has been gathered and compare it to the current situation and see if improvements can be made.

Use the information to create a mental image of the circumstances. Be aware of how your perceptions, past experience and other forces may blur your image and impact on how you view what you have gathered.

Decide – Consider if action is required and a change or changes need to be made. Look at the likely benefits of what you think you should do. Consider creating a vision and figure out the likely return on investment of your actions.

Act – Act on and carry out the actions you have decided to do. Use careful planning techniques to ensure actions run smoothly.

You can then carry on repeating the cycle, observing the results of your actions. Check whether you have achieved the results you wanted to achieve and making revisions if needed.

Key points in the process are Observing and Orient. These are really key points ins effective decision making. Decisions can’t be made effectively these two points are not carried out correctly.

Take time to ensure you have gathered all of the facts and that you clearly understand whether there is a clear purpose or need to make changes. Be sure to consider what the objective of any change is and whether there is a good enough return on investment.

OODA Loops can also work well along side the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach.


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