The OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act) is an
information strategy concept for information warfare developed by Colonel
John Boyd (1927-1997). Although the OODA model was clearly created for military
purposes, elements of the same theory can also be applied to business strategy.
Boyd developed the theory based on his earlier experience as a fighter pilot
and work on energy maneuverability. He initially used it to explain victory
in air-to-air combat, but in the last years of his career he expanded his
OODA Loop theory into a grand strategy that would defeat an enemy strategically
by - psychological - paralysis.
Boyd emphasized that strategy should always revolve around changing the
enemy's behavior, not annihilating his forces. The parallel between Boyd's
ideas and the masterpiece of Sun Tzu, "The Art of War", are obvious. Both
Boyd and Sun Tzu advocate the ideas of harmony, deception, swiftness and fluidity
of action, surprise, shock, and attacking the enemy's strategy.
Colonel Boyd viewed the enemy (and ourselves) as a system that is acting
through a decision making process. This decision making process is based on
observations of the world around it. The enemy will observe unfolding circumstances
and gather outside information in order to orient the system to perceived
threats. Boyd states that the orientation phase of the loop is the most important
step, because if the enemy perceives the wrong threats, or misunderstands
what is happening in the environment around him, then he will orient his thinking
(and forces) in wrong directions and ultimately make incorrect decisions.
Boyd said that this cycle of decision-making could operate at different speeds
for the enemy and your own organization. The goal should be to complete your
OODA Loop process at a faster tempo than the enemy's, and to take action to
lengthen the enemy's loop. One tries to conduct many more loops "inside" the
enemy's loop, causing the enemy to be unable to react to anything that is
happening to him.
Colonel Boyd stated that the enemy's loop can be lengthened through a variety
of means. Boyd's aim is to generate "non-cooperate" centers of gravity for
the enemy through ambiguity, deception, novel circumstances, fast transient
maneuvers, and the use of Sun-Tzu's idea of Cheng and Ch'i. By isolating the
enemy's centers of gravity and developing mistrust and cohesion within the
system (making them "non-cooperative"), friction will be greatly increased,
paralysis in the system will set in, and the enemy will ultimately collapse.
By attacking the thought process of the enemy / competitor, his morale and
decision process can be shattered.
Book: Sun Tzu,
Gary Gagliardi - The Art of War -
Book: Carl Von
Clausewitz - On War -
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Compare with the OODA Loop of John Boyd:
Deming Cycle |
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