OODA Loop versus PDSA Cycle

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OODA Loop > Forum > OODA Loop versus PDSA Cycle

OODA Loop versus PDSA Cycle
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Boyd's OODA Loop and Deming's PDSA Cycle appear to be similar at first sight.
And indeed there are several similarities between OODA and PDSA. They include:
  • Think before you act.
  • Cyclic nature of the process.
  • Feedback mechanisms.
However there are also major differences between OODA and PDSA:
  • START WITH INFORMATION: A key strength of OODA is its (initial) focus on information through its two Os: OBSERVE (collecting information) and ORIENT (analyzing information) while PDSA starts right away with Plan. Obviously information is crucial in today's society, economy, business, leadership, decision making, ...
  • USE DISINFORMATION: And, as one of Boyd's colleagues, Harry Hillaker, wrote in "John Boyd, USAF Retired, Father of the F16":
    The key is to obscure your intentions and make them unpredictable to your opponent while you simultaneously clarify his intentions. That is, operate at a faster tempo to generate rapidly changing conditions that inhibit your opponent from adapting or reacting to those changes and that suppress or destroy his awareness. Thus, a hodgepodge of confusion and disorder occur to cause him to over- or under-react to conditions or activities that appear to be uncertain, ambiguous, or incomprehensible. (Source: Wikipedia)
  • PARADIGM: The orientation of PDSA is improvement (quality, operational), while for OODA it is competition (war, strategic).

Was Boyd Influenced by Deming/Shewart Concepts?
David Redpath, CEO, Canada, Member
It is interesting that Boyd wrote the OODA concept soon after attending a class that included Deming/Shewart concepts, can we surmise that he took in this and adapted it as needed to fit his synthesis?

Theory versus Practice
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
As a retired naval officer, I agree with and use both the OODA and PDSA concepts. Understanding and applying the theory of both models can be extremely useful if you can integrate the theory and concepts with organizational realities and practices.
I used the PDSA model to create a workable and integrated HR process called the BC Workforce MOOD (Model Of Organizational Development). When an organization and line managers understand the theory and the practices, innovative solutions are not only possible, but effective, efficient and economical.
The simplicity of the OODA and PDSA concepts is what makes them useful to organizations and leaders. To apply these concepts, organizations and leaders need to be able to create workable processes and best practices.

PDCA is Scalable
David Redpath, CEO, Canada, Member
@David Wilson: I used PDCA for low level shopfloor improvements, to operational shop level projects, to large organisation change programs... in a multi national company of over 12000 employees.
A strength of the PDCA model is it is easily scaled, and can be understood at a variety of levels, unlike a whole lot of other mumbo jumbo taught in some MBA programs.

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