Anyone who has served in the military understands “The OODA Loop”, and a growing percentage of business leaders in corporate America have studied or even used the same. For those who have not, it’s a four stage decision cycle that results in ACTION:

  1. Observe
  2. Orient
  3. Decide
  4. Act

In the Cryptologic Community, we have something very similar tailored to our culture:

  1. Exploit
  2. Analyze
  3. Inform
  4. Act

In the information age, we continually develop tools that allow us to decrease the time it takes to complete “The OODA Loop”. I say complete fully knowing the cycle is never complete, as it is used to continuously inform new decisions, resulting in additional actions. Though the tools are here to enhance the “OO”, no tool will absolve us of the human element required to embrace the “DA”.

We talk of “The OODA Loop”, but many of us are stuck in the “The OO Dead End”. We are more than comfortable observing and orienting, but more than a few seem to be very uncomfortable deciding and a good portion of those willing to decide either lack the ability or maybe even fortitude to act. The sole purpose of the OODA Loop is to inform action. “OO” without “DA” is merely problem admiration.

The team with whom I currently serve and the colleagues with whom I informally team on side projects are committed to executing the entire loop. In fact, we take great pride in doing other people’s work. Right or wrong, we embrace the implied task of sharing the OODA loop with as many decision-makers and actors as possible. We are so committed to helping others to decide and act that we often execute the “OO” on their behalf in hopes of giving them no reason not to execute the “DA”. We keep our head on a swivel, continually observing our surroundings and looking for challenges worthy of our time. We orient ourselves, as a means of focusing our efforts and prioritizing identified opportunities. We do our part to figure out who has the authority to decide. And we do our best to hold all publicly accountable to following the decision with action.

Every member on every team is afforded the opportunity to Decide and Act to varying degrees (might be assuming too much here). We all have a responsibility to ensure the “OO” is appropriately considered, but we have a mandate to execute the “DA”. As we demonstrate our commitment to collective ownership, let’s decide, let’s act, let’s share the OODA Loop!

  • How would measure the amount of emphasis your team places on each stage of the OODA loop?
  • Are you too quick to DA?
  • Are you stuck in the OO?