The OODA Loop Part 1

Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor E. Frankl from

Whether we are aware of it or not, we utilize processes throughout the days of our lives.  When we make toast, get the kids to school, or make an evening meal, we are executing processes.  Some are defined like a recipe for dinner.  Some we just know as we’ve done it over and over again which creates mindless habits.  A third grader executes a myriad of processes everyday in our classrooms.  At the most basic level a process is simply an input to an action with an output.  Processes can be simple actions or elaborate schemes to accomplish complex tasks.  Relative to learning and the business of you, there is one basic process that we shall explore, the OODA loop created by John Boyd.

John was a united States Air Force fighter pilot and Pentagon consultant.  His theories have been highly influential in military, sports, business and litigation.  He created the Energy-Maneuverability theory that revolutionized aerial combat.  He was instrumental in creating the legendary lightweight fighter F-16.  He is credited with largely developing the strategy for the invasion of Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991.  One key concept in his work was the decision cycle or OODA loop.

The OODA loop is a four-step process comprised of Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action (OODA).  It’s how we react to an event and our local environment.  It has to do with situational awareness and starts with observations.  The key characteristic of observation is to observe without judgement.  Observe both the small details as well as the large picture.  If we focus on one and not the other, we can get ourselves into unexpected issues.  This observation is about receiving knowledge through all of the senses.  In other words it is to our advantage to look without the lenses of our personal biases.

A good image of this is a child asking what or why instead of saying “I know…”  As Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward.”  To observe freely is to adopt a child like openness.  This flexibility and freedom to observe without judgement is critical as lack of flexibility manifests itself as stress in our system.

The fundamental process we all go through every moment is to Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA)
non judgmental observations
Observe without judgement

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