Interactive OODA


The OODA Loop model was developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret) during the Korean War. It is a concept consisting of the following four actions:

This looping concept referred to the ability possessed by fighter pilots that allowed them to succeed in combat. It is now used by the U.S. Marines and other organizations. The premise of the model is that decision-making is the result of rational behavior in which problems are viewed as a cycle of Observation, Orientation (situational awareness), Decision Making, and Action. Boyd diagramed the OODA loop as shown in the figure below:

Cycling Through OODA


An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle more quickly than an opponent can “get inside” the opponent's decision cycle and gain the advantage.


Scan the environment and gather information from it.


Use the information to form a mental image of the circumstances. That is, synthesize the data into information. As more information is received, you "deconstruct" old images and then "create" new images. Note that different people require different levels of details to perceive an event. Often, we imply that the reason people cannot make good decisions, is that people are bad decisions makers — sort of like saying that the reason some people cannot drive is that they are bad drivers. However, the real reason most people make bad decisions is that they often fail to place the information that we do have into its proper context. This is where "Orientation" comes in. Orientation emphasizes the context in which events occur, so that we may facilitate our decisions and actions. That it, orientation helps to turn information into knowledge. And knowledge, not information, is the real predictor of making good decisions.


Consider options and select a subsequent course of action.


Carry out the conceived decision. Once the result of the action is observed, you start over. Note that in combat (or competing against the competition), you want to cycle through the four steps faster and better than the enemy, hence, it is a loop.

Interactive Web

The loop doesn't mean that individuals or organizations have to observe, orient, decide, and act, in the order as shown in the diagram above. Rather, picture the loop as an interactive web with orientation at the core, as shown in the diagram below. Orientation is how we interpret a situation, based on culture, experience, new information, analysis, synthesis, and heritage

Interactive OODA

Thus, the loop is actually a set of interacting loops that are kept in continuous operation.


Another variation of the OODA cycle is SOAP that is used by paramedic's and medical techs. SOAP is a standard process for: Situation, Observation, Analysis, Perform.

Next Steps

Next chapter: Time Management

Activity: OODA and Double-Loop Learning

Main Leadership Menu