Growing Adaptive Organizations

The OODA Loop

The OODA Loop

In the canvas, we structure our steps according to the logic of the OODA Loop.

The OODA Loop is a strategic tool developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. It’s a decision-making process that is designed to help individuals and organizations operate effectively in competitive environments. The loop emphasizes the importance of being able to adapt quickly to changing situations through a continuous cycle of:

Or the more complete version:

  • Observe (Analysis) – Gathering information and understanding the current environment and situation: In Observe mode you focus on understanding the current situation. This section helps you dissect and comprehend the various elements and dynamics of an organization, paving the way for insightful analysis.
  • Orient (Diagnosis) – Analyzing the information and using it to update your current view of reality:while the analysis does not directly imply an assessment, this is the main focus of the diagnosis: developing an opinion about the findings.
  • Decide (Design) – Making a decision based on observations and orientation: Finally, we delve into the realm of organizational design. This part of the booklet guides you through the critical decisions involved in proposing changes and improvements to an organization’s structure and processes, utilizing the principles of VSM.
  • Act (Ways of Change)- Taking action to implement the decision: Last, we choose a procedure to implement the findings. This can mean a traditional change process or an iterative approach. We discuss some of the options and the reasons why you would choose one over the other.

After taking action, the loop starts over with observation to assess the success of the actions taken and to react to any changes in the situation. The process helps to control the “blast radius”, i.e. the the impact of an intervention. The loop allows interventions treated as experiments. It is intended to be performed rapidly and continuously, allowing for quick reactions and flexibility in response to the dynamics of a situation, leading to improved strategic outcomes.

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