OODA Loop - Explained
What is an OODA Loop?
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What is an OODA Loop?
United States Air Force Colonel and Military Strategist, John Boyd, developed the concept of OODA Loop which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Apply, a decision making cycle helpful in intense situations. Boyd used the concept in combat operations during military campaigns. It now finds application in corporate and commercial operations. The Loop is an effective tool to overcome raw emotions by acting quickly and decisively.
How is an OODA Loop Used?
In an airstrike combat scenario, a fighter pilot in the enemy aircraft range is bombarded with visual and perceptive information. From considering the size, training, and fire power, to the strategy of the enemy pilot, a 100 different scenarios and action plans come present themselves. These are further complicated when more information makes itself available like the speed of the aircraft, its trajectory, and so on. The pilot needs to process all this information within a split second, arrive at a conclusive plan of action, put it into motion, and execute it with precision. OODA Loop comes into play in such a scenario where the pilot needs to keep aside distracting elements like emotional reactions or psychological pressure. Cycling through the information available at every instance helps the pilot stay focussed, take quick decisions, and act with confidence. It improves his decision making ability while removing detracting elements. Combatants trained in the OODA Loop technique perform better under stress. The faster one processes through this cycle of observing, orienting, deciding and applying, the better their chances of outwitting an opponent. It is the agility afforded by quick thinking and acting with critical throughput. Boyd drew this insight from his on-field experience. Basketball is another arena wherein training in the OODA Loop technique can help you read into an opponent's strategy and act fast to throw a monkey wrench into it. From a series of fakes like feigned passes, to confusing body movements to indicate a certain direction of play while going in a different direction at the last moment, thinking faster is the key to achieving better results and outplaying your opponents. Instead of a game of skill, it now also incorporates strategy into the gameplay. A game of tennis between evenly matched players might be won by the one trained and experienced in the OODA Loop cycle. While sporting events might see instant results with OODA Loop, the business world sees an extended, long duration game play at work. Studying customer activity is the Observational phase, positioning the business to address concerns and improve performance is the Orientation stage, coming up with a plan of action to execute new strategies is the Decision phase, execution at the grassroots level is the Action phase. This plays out for months or years as businesses rise and fall, competition folds, and new empires take their place. As stated, agility or the pace of moving ahead is the key to achieving better results, beating competition, or gaining first mover advantage over opponents according to the OODA Loop strategy. Boyd also used this argument for advocating the use of lighter maneuverable fighter aircrafts as opposed to the heavy jet fighters.