OODA is the acronym for Observe Orient Decide Act. The OODA loop bases itself on the premise that parties to a conflict or competitors are systems that operate through a rational decision-making process that follows a cycle of Observation, Orientation or situational awareness, Decision Making, and Action.
(O)=Observe: The system scans the environment and gathers information regarding changes in the environment that affects the system directly or indirectly, and how the environment reacts to the strength, weakness, maneuvers, and intentions of the system. Such observations aim to spot mismatches before customers and competitors do.
(O)=Orient: Orientation is interpretation of the observed information, or converting information into knowledge by developing concepts through analysis of information. The way the system interprets knowledge depends on culture, genetic heritage, ability to analyze and synthesize, experience, and latest changes to information, and success depends on such interpretation being better or more relevant than that of the competitors.
(D)=Decide: Decide is weighing the several options or alternatives available from the concepts knowledge body generated during the orientation phase, and picking the best one. For instance, a company having realized the need for a new product may choose to launch a new product or repackage an existing product, based on what they perceive the customer would do with the same knowledge. Decisions are at basic level guesses, and as such, need to remain fluid or work-in-progress, ready to change as new information comes.
(A)=Act: Act is carrying out or implementing the selected decision. This completes the OODA loop and the feedback of the implementation is the basis for the next round of observation.
The OODA loop bears resemblance to the Plan Do Check Act cycle. Both highlight the importance of analyzing situations accurately, checking for actions to have intended results, and making the required changes.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Jeff McNeill