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Decide (The third phase of the OODA Loop).

Posted by David Happe on

I blogged about the first step in the OODA loop, which is to observe.  We then covered the second step of the loop, which is to orient.  At some point, I will reorganize the links so this information is all together.  The third step in the OODA loop is Decide.  

We're talking about an action strategy developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd.
Observe ---->  Orient ---->  Decide ----> Act

So by now, you have made an observation, and oriented your mind to circumstances that were different than what was expected.  The third step of the OODA Loop is to decide.  You are going to consider action (or inaction) options, and select a course of action.  Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus.  You have to make a decision.  If you go through the OODA Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) faster than your opponent, you have the strategic advantage and are positioned to win any given incursion. 

It's worth noting that your decision doesn't have to be perfect.  It simply has to be more swift and decisive than the opponent.  You can respond to changing situations as you go.  By nature of the discussion, the process is a LOOP.  You have the ability to correct action on the second pass through the LOOP.  Once you have acted you are committed to the action until you observe a new threat or situation.  Your action could be successful, or afterwards it might require more action at which time you must reenter the loop at the beginning.   What's critical is that you select a path and move rapidly to the action phase.

The speed at which you get through the loop can give you a tactical edge.  The objective is to get through the loop faster than your adversary.  In an ideal situation you can deal with a threat before your opponent has even realized he is in a confrontational situation and entered his own OODA loop.  If not, and the enemy has time to react, then you have to “get inside” his loop.  This means that you need to be performing the loop faster than he can.

 So... we decide.  We intentionally pick a course of action based on the observation and orientation.  We take a split second inventory of our preparedness, the tools or options available to us, and we decide.  We force ourselves to move quickly to the final step of the loop --- action.

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