TL;DR. The OODA loop was a tool developed by military strategist John Boyd to explain how individuals and organizations can win in uncertain. John Boyd forever changed the way the United States fights wars, The OODA loop became just one of many important contributions to the. People say things like that because everyone in the military knows about the inventor of the OODA Loop, Colonel John Boyd. He was a.

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The OODA loop was a tool developed by military strategist John Boyd to explain how individuals and organizations can win in uncertain and chaotic environments. It is an Acronym that johj the four steps of decisions making: O bserve, O rient, D ecide A ct. This article will give you the understanding you need to turn ambiguity into advantage and risk into results in your career, business and life. This is a big article. Download it as a beautiful PDF to oora later!

Full military honors including an honor guard, band, rifle squad, and flag-draped caisson drawn by six gray horses were provided.

Definition and Uses of John Boyd’s OODA Loop

He was more than just a great stick-and-rudder man, though; he was a strategist. E-M Theory would revolutionize the way air-to-air combat was taught and fighter planes were designed around the world. In the early s, he was the spiritual leader of the Military Reform Movement, a guerilla movement within the military which sought to reform the cultural of careerism and waste in the armed forces.

In the late loip, he retired from the Air Force and went into a self-imposed exile studying philosophy, science, military history, psychology, and a dozen other seemingly unrelated fields.

Moving from warrior to intellectual, he worked to olop what he learned from all these domains to answer the question: How do individuals and organizations win in an uncertain blyd The OODA loop is often seen as a decision making model, but can be more accurately described as a model of individual and organizational looo and adaptation. However, much of what he did was either highly classified or not written down. Because the military is an oral culture, he left very few published papers, making him difficult for academics to study.

On a grassy slope, the cortege halted around grave site number 3, A Marine colonel, wearing the ribbons and decorations of a man who had spent a career fighting around the world, took a Marine Corps insignia, the eagle globe and anchor, from his pocket.

Placing the Marine Corps insignia on a grave is the highest honor a marine can bestow. It is rarely seen even at the funerals of decorated combat marines. This was likely the first time in history an Air Force pilot ever received the honor. John Boyd was the greatest military strategist of the loo century. For those who have booyd his theories, Boyd is tossed around in the same sentences as Sun Tzu and Carl Von Clausewitz. Napoleon was the greatest general that Europe had seen in centuries.

He was the first general since Genghis Khan who stood a legitimate chance at sweeping bojd European nation under his banner.

Because of his success, his style dramatically altered the way war was fought for the next century and a half. Maneuver warfare was defined by characteristics like swiftness of action, cycles of dispersion and concentration, deception, surprise, fluidity, shock and flexibility. The other defining feature of maneuver warfare was that it tried to avoid actual war.

Sun Tzu emphasized the moral and mental dimensions of war, the winning of hearts and minds. When fighting was necessary, he emphasized maneuver warfare characterized by quickness, variety, surprise, and harmony.


By the end of his campaigns though, he transitioned to a more rigid, uniform style that came obyd be known as attrition warfare. Instead of letting his troops move flexibly based on the situation in their part of the battlefield, he had them move uniformly in dense infantry columns, much like the British red coats. Because Napoleon was such a force of nature, the militaries of the world became locked into the view of Attrition Warfare as superior.

The American Civil War was characterized by large lines moving liop towards loo away from each other.

During the First World War, Englishman Frederick Lanchester calculated that of the two, force size was more influential. The other variable, firepower, could offset this, but the weapons had to be MUCH more powerful to make up for the differences. Before the Second World War, German generals had gone back and studied earlier military strategists and designed the.

Yet, because the Germans committed such horrible atrocities, very few military theorists went back to study the Blitzkrieg. In the early years of the Cold War, American Generals were still locked into the attrition mindset that had begun with Napoleon. American generals believed they needed to have radically more powerful weapons in order to maintain parity with the Soviets.

This all started to change with an insight John Boyd had as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. In the leadup to the Vietnam War, the Air Force and Navy had developed bigger, more powerful aircraft than any that the Soviets had. Yet they were ten times less effective. The air-to-air combat kill ratio of 1: On the ground, the North Vietnamese employed the tactics of maneuver warfare at every level from strategic to tactical and ground warfare to air combat.

John Boyd (military strategist) – Wikipedia

They embraced the philosophy of Genghis Khan and Sun Tzu. In the words of the legendary. To the chagrin of the Air Force Generals who had commissioned the bigger, more expensive planes, E-M theory showed conclusively that the lighter, cheaper, faster Soviet MiGs were more effective boyyd because of their quickness and maneuverability. Vietnam marked the greatest inflection point in warfare since Napoleon. Today, insurgent groups around the world are using the strategies of maneuver warfare: A prescient article for the Journal of Foreign Affairs, explained the future of warfare this way:.

So far, the 21st century has borne out the prediction.

Insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria are not waking up to battlefield in jihn lines. They are attacking in an unpredictable pattern all over the world from the world Trade Center to Nice, France to London music venues to hotels in India. He developed a briefing called Patterns of Conflict which showed their application to ground warfare tactics. Then a briefing called Organic Design for Command and Control showing their applications to boys strategy, politics and diplomacy. The shift to greater adaptability and speed is becoming required to survive in the business world.

That came to a crashing halt in A situation which leads not to a steady, linear monthly paycheck but a much bumpier income graph that looks like this. Byit was 20 years. The startup world, nohn by uncertainty, provides plenty of examples of what embracing ambiguity can lead to.

Over the past decade, we have seen a growing number of individuals and freelancers using technology to thrive in an lopo world.

That is up from 33, ina 5. Within companies, the individuals who are most adaptable, quick and dynamic are able to add the most value.

If individuals and organizations want to survive and thrive in a highly dynamic environment, they have to embrace uncertainty and novelty and learn to use it to their advantage. As examples like WhatsApp and the growth of one-person million dollar businesses show, the payoff is vitality and growth, the opportunity to shape and adapt to an ever changing reality and influence the ideas and actions of others.


Boyd created the OODA loop to try and condense his four decades of research and thinking into a single diagram that answered this question.

John Boyd (military strategist)

This view of the OODA loop captures the essence. We will gradually adjust to get more precise. The OODA loop is often seen as boyv decision making model, but can be more accurately described as a model of individual and organization learning and adaptation.

It includes all the dimensions of that environment: The observation phase is data gathering in the broadest possible sense of the term: Imagine you were a perceptive financial trader that understood the OODA loop in the run-up to the financial collapse. In the observation phase, you saw that the market was lopo its way towards record-highs. You felt the mental dimension.

Definition and Uses of John Boyd’s OODA Loop

You saw there was a huge increase in financial instruments including mortgage-backed derivatives. You saw that many of the people who were taking out mortgages had much lower incomes than people taking out mortgages five years earlier. Orientation is the most important part of the OODA loop.

It includes understanding your genetics, cultural heritage and previous experiences, then analyzing and synthesizing that with all the observations you made. The goal of the orientation phase is to find mismatches: As a general rule, bad news is the best kind because as long as boyf catch it in time, you can turn it to your advantage.

Continuing with your financial trader example, you oriented and suspected there iohn no way all these people were going to pay off their mortgages. Many of them were lower income individuals with unsteady jobs.

You saw that everyone, from homeowners with multiple mortgages to large banks, was betting on the market going up indefinitely. You hypothesized that this was irrational exuberance, and no lop goes up forever. You thought once some people started to default, many others would as well lop that looop market would crash.

You discovered a mismatch: The goal you should be striving for in the orientation phase is to prove your previous beliefs wrong by finding mismatches. The sooner you can identify a mismatch, the sooner you can re-orient to take advantage loip it The trader saw a mismatch, shorted the market, and made money. The Decision stage is the transition into the final stage of acting. For groups or organizations, the decision stage may require a series of meetings or discussions to adjust the strategy and roadmap based on the new orientation.

If you were a trader inyou might have to have a meeting with your team to explain your reasoning in the orientation phase and come to a decision jhn exactly how to bet against the housing market. Should you short the mortgage derivatives themselves? Or the banks holding them? Should you do it now or should you wait a month? Most decision making can and should be implicit.

In the trader example, you click the button or make the phone call to bet against the housing market. Then the OODA loop starts all over again. That may or may not change their actions.