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The OODA Loop

OODA Loop Diagram
Source: Wikipedia OODA loop - Wikipedia

Notes on this Post

  • That reminds me… of Feedback Loops for systems, feedback in relationships and with staff.
  • It’s similar because…the process is the same, but with different terminology
  • It’s different because… it presents an alternate way of explaining problem-solving
  • It’s important because…it can speed up the decision-making process.

The OODA Loop was originally developed by American Air Force Colonel John Boyd. Although developed for military purposes, the concept has valid uses in today’s commercial and community environments. In fact, you could even apply it in the family or individual circumstances to work through problems.

  • Observe
  • Orient
  • Decide
  • Act


Gather information by observing your surroundings, and any inputs to gain as thorough an understanding of the situation or problem as you can. Make notes on your observations and do not rely on your memory. Also, remember that the world is constantly changing and moving. Your observations at this point should take into account that it is only a point in time and you may not have all the information you might think you have. Nonetheless, the observation phase must at some point be considered complete to allow moving on to the next position.


Orientation involves reflecting on all the data gathered during the observation phase. Humans are a product of their environment and can make decisions based on instinct or prior learning. Such a method of decision-making is not always reliable particularly if this new situation is “similar” to past experiences as opposed to being the same. Orienting the information means organising it in a meaningful manner and removing any bias where possible. Bias can be a significant threat to making correct decisions.


The decision phase is not only about making a decision but also about developing several decisions. There is always more than one way of doing something. The models developed should take into account the speed of resolution, impact on people involved, ethics and morality, financial implications and identify any potential bias. Once done, select the most appropriate decision.


Action involves the implementation of the decision that has been made. You may well have come to the conclusion that there are two very real possibilities. If you have the luxury of time, then testing them both before making a final decision can be invaluable.

The Loop

It isn’t called the OODA Loop for nothing. It doesn’t stop at the action. The next part of the loop is to circle back to the Observe phase again. The purpose of circling back is to make sure your decision and action have been effective. Could it be improved upon? If so, after observation, the process is repeated and continual improvements are made by continuing to employ the OODA Loop.

Additional Reading

Boyds OODA Loop Necesse vol 5 nr 1.pdf (unit.no) (peer-reviewed academic paper)

OODA loop – Wikipedia (General Information)

What Is OODA Loop? | Definition from TechTarget


The OODA Loop is a valuable tool to have in your organisational toolkit. There are other articles on Problem Solving and Decision Making on this site using alternative methods. Use what suits your style as the most essential aspect is making the decision and resolving the problems as soon as you can. That does not mean rushing things. It means acting in a deliberate, respectful manner and ensuring others know you have their back and are working to solve things.

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