Observe Orient Decide Act (and repeat)

How anyone can use an O.O.D.A. loop to get to answers quicker

The ‘O.O.D.A. loop’ shows an effective way of moving quickly and getting to the right answer.

‘In order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries … or, better yet, get inside [the] adversary’s O.O.D.A. time cycle or loop.’

The brainchild of military strategist John Boyd, The OODA loop was originally devised to explain the outcomes of dogfights — how could a slower fighter jet with lower capabilities be able to defeat a more technically advanced machine? The answer lay in the pilots ability to more quickly percieve and react to his surroundings — to get his O.O.D.A. loop to be shorter than his opponents (one answer lying in a wider range of vision from his cockpit).

  1. Observe: Go to the people who you think might be interested in your idea and check to make sure. Think about how you want to frame your idea to get honest feedback — the last thing you want at this stage is a sycophant telling you the sun shines out of your idea’s arse, only to find out in 6 months that they hated it all along.
  2. Orient: This is a hard one, not just because you need to master an analytics tool of some sort but also know what it is you’re measuring. Measure the wrong thing and you can be left with some assumptions that are just plain wrong. (For example check out the dangers with mixing up causation and correlation).
    If you don’t have any users, you’ll have to rely on qualitative tests (with individual users or friends) — just be aware that each only provides one data point so may not be statistically significant.
  3. Decide: Based on your learnings revisit your designs and make improvements. The best improvements are small ones that you can test individually — change everything and you won’t know which change was effective.
  4. Act: Release your improved version to your users. They’re getting real value quickly rather than waiting for a future ‘silver bullet’ release and you’re able to learn again.



Designer. Founder, progressionapp.com. I don’t post on here any more. For latest → jonnyburch.com

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