(John Boyd)

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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.

OODA Loop Boyd

Chart adapted from Chester W. Richards, "A Swift, Elusive Sword: What if Sun Tzu and John Boyd did a National Defense review", Center for Defense Information, February 2003, 22.

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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Forum discussions about the OODA Loop. Below you can ask a question about this topic, share your experiences, report a new development, or explain something.

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OODA & Adaptive Enterprise
I was surprised not to see anything about Stephan Haeckel's Adaptive Enterprise concept, advanced in late 1990s. He was head of IBM's Advanced Business Institute and now runs a consulting company focu...
OODA Loop & John Boyd
Orientation also involves probing for new information and looking for parallels in other areas of knowledge. It is extremely effective in emotionally charged situations like divorce. Boyd’s strategy t...
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. Cycl...
Crucial Dialogue Model Refines OODA Loop
The OODA loop is not new… It is as old as mankind (otherwise we wouldn’t be here).
The foundation of the “OODA loop” and more of these loops (“PDCA” as already mentioned) is the Creative Intercha...
Books on Boyd and his OODA Concept
'The Mind of War' and 'The John Boyd Roundtable' are some other books talking about Boyd theories and the OODA Loop concept.
The best biography about Boyd is by Robert Coram named 'Boyd: The Figh...
OODA Loop in Education / Schools
Can anyone illustrate the use of OODA Loop in any school situation?...
🔥 NEW Scope of OODA Loops
John Boyd's work focused on getting inside of your opponents decision cycle time. There was no specification as to whether this was only the fractions of a second required for a fighter pilot or the m...

Best Practices

The best, top-rated topics about the OODA Loop. Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

The Lesson of John Boyd for Decision Makers
You can use the "OODA Loop" of fighter pilot John Boyd for various kinds of decision-making in different situations and circumstances, including non-military, corporate, departmental, and team environ...

Expert Tips

Advanced insights about the OODA Loop. Here you will find professional advices by experts.

Weaknesses of OODA-Loop. Disadvantages

Limitations OODA Loop, Disadvantages OODA Loop, OODA Decision-making
Rousseau and Breton identify some limitations of the OODA Loop as developed by Boyd. These limitations and weaknesses ar...

An Improved Version of the OODA-loop with Feedback and -forward Loops

OODA-loop, Complex Decision Support, Defense, Best Practices
Rousseau and Breton developed an extended version of the OODA-loop in order to remove some of its weaknesses. M-OODA (sh...

Boyd's 3 Levels of Warfare

Warfare, Competition
Boyd divided warfare into three distinct levels: MORALE WARFARE: the destruction of the enemy's will to win, disrup...

Strategy and Strategic Aim of Boyd's OODA

OODA Strategy, OODA Strategic Aim, OODA Purpose
What is the strategy and the strategic aim behind his OODA loop? Strategy: Penetrate adversary’s moral-mental-physical...

Advantages of a Better OODA Loop Than your Competitors

OODA Advantages, OODA Competitive Advantages
According to Boyd, the key to victory is to be able to create situations wherein one can make appropriate decisions more...

Grand Tactics Behind OODA Enemy View

Adversary View of OODA, OODA Adversaries
John Boyd's thinking was aimed at running the loop Observe-Orient-Decide-Act more inconspicuously, more quickly, and wit...

Cycle the OODA Loop Quickly

OODA Loop, OODA Cycle, OODA Feedback
Keep in mind that you have to cycle through the OODA Loop fast. A key idea behind it is that you should not stay in any...
Information Sources

Various sources of information regarding the OODA Loop. Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Full 200-slide Powerpoint Presentation by Boyd

Strategy, Conflict, OODA Loop
A monumental look by Boyd at what makes any organization competitive. Encompassing 2,500 years of the history of confl...

A Cognitive Version of the OODA Loop

Complex (Military) Dynamic Decision Support
The OODA loop has been proposed to represent the decision cycle of pilots in air force environments. One of the advantag...

OODA Loop Applied to Marketing Management

Decision-making, Information
Video about at how Boyd's OODA loop construct can be applied to marketing management. Video looks a bit outdated, but th...

The Dynamic OODA Loop

OODA, Decision-making, Warfare
In-depth paper by Berndt Brehmer on the Dynamic OODA loop, or DOODA loop for short, a generic model of Command and Contr...

OODA Loop Diagram

Competitive Intelligence
Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in ...

Orientation Step in the OODA-loop

Orientation Phase, OODA-Loop
This presentation expands on the second point in the OODA-loop, the Orientation phase. The presentation starts with a ge...

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Compare with the OODA Loop of John Boyd:  Deming Cycle  |  Organic Organization  |  Business Intelligence  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Scenario Planning  |  PEST Analysis  |  SWOT Analysis  |  System Dynamics  |  Simulation

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