OODA Loop versus PDSA Cycle

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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

OODA Loop versus PDSA Cycle

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).

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