What is the OODA Loop?

The OODA Loop is a Model that summarizes Problem-Solving Processes in 4 simple Steps.

  • It is commonly used in Professional Problem-Solving situations.

 

Its name is an acronym for the 4 Steps it Proposes:

  • Observe.
  • Orient.
  • Decide.
  • Act.

Four Steps of the OODA Loop

1. Observe: Analyze the Problem and Collect as much data as Possible.

  • How often this Problem takes place, When, Under which Circumstances, etc.

 

2. Orient: Study the Data and find different ways to tackle the Problem.

  • Problems can always be addressed in more than one way.

 

3. Decide: Establish How the Problem will be Addressed.

  • And what Strategy will be employed.

 

4. Act: Implement the Necessary Actions to Solve the Problem.

  • Establishing Schedules, Goals and Metrics.

 

This cycle should be Repeated Indefinitely until the Problem is completely Solved.

OODA Loop

 

Let’s see the first example:

OODA Loop example

 

This Problem-solving Approach is widely used in Industry.

 

In the Manufacturing line there are many Problems whose Solution is not always obvious.

  • Small defects that alter the final product.
  • Omitted operations.
  • Raw materials with defects.
  • etc.

 

The most common mistake is to Settle for the first explanation found.

  • And keep going.

 

Usually this results in the Problem not being Solved Correctly because the data has not been analyzed deeply enough.

 

Process engineers follow the OODA Loop constantly (whether they know it or not) by analyzing the Data, finding the Root cause of problems, and Implementing the best possible Solutions.

 

* If you are interested in the Root Cause approach, we suggest you to visit:

There, we explain different Problem-Solving Methods that focus specially on Root Causes.

We know that this method seems pretty obvious.

  • In fact, it is some of the most obvious Methods we have explained so far.

 

Therefore, How can it be of any help?

How can you take advantage of the OODA Loop?

How to Use the OODA Loop

It is an Easy Guideline to Remember.

  • Some Problem Solving Methods are longer an full of Nuances.
    • Remembering the acronym OODA and what it means is very simple.

 

It contains the Essence of all Problem-Solving Processes.

  • All Problem-Solving Methods rely on the same Principle:
    • A Careful Analysis, Reflect on the Alternatives, Act and Repeat the cycle.

 

It can be Taught to people Unfamiliar with Problem-Solving methods.

  • You do not need prior knowledge to apply the OODA model.
    • Technicians or Specialized workers can easily use and Remember it.

 

It is not as Obvious as it seems.

  • In Real life, we all tend to Act impulsively.
    • This model Reminds us that we have to Stop, Think, Analyze and Act.

The best way to understand the OODA Loop and how you can use it is by sharing some examples with you:

OODA Loop examples

We have chosen 3 different situations in which the OODA Loop can be of great Help.

  • And How it can be used.

 

Let’s begin:

Negotiating - OODA Loop example

 

A good Negotiation is not one in which both parties discuss positions, but one in which both parties Reconcile Common Interests.

 

And the best way to seek Common Interests is to Analyze the needs of the other party.

 

The next time you are in a Negotiation, we suggest you this:

  • Observe the Issues that the Other Party highlights or mentions the Most.
  • Orient the conversation towards those Issues.
  • Decide how the two of you can get something good out of these Issues.
  • Act: Propose Agreements on those Matters, which you consider fair for both parties.

 

Then, you should Repeat this cycle, until the two of you come to an Agreement.

Starting a New Project - OODA Loop example

 

In New Projects, the OODA Loop can be of Great Help.

 

It helps you define your Products and approach your Customers in the most effective way.

How?

 

If you Start a New Project or Develop a New Product:

  • Observe what People Consume, How Often, Their Preferences, etc.
  • Orient your Product or Project to fulfill the needs of your potential Customers.
  • Decide the appropriate Price, Marketing Campaign, etc.
  • Act: Launch a Beta Product.

 

Once you have information about your Beta Product, Repeat the Cycle until your Product is Perfect.

Improving a Skill - OODA Loop example

 

The OODA Loop can be used in your day to day.

  • As it is a very versatile method, you can use it in your personal life.

 

You can use it for improving your Skills, for example.

How?

  • Observe what it takes to Master a Skill that you would like to improve.
  • Orient your analysis to include your Actual Capabilities.
  • Decide what Learning method and Approaches would be the best.
  • Act: Start Practicing and Create a Schedule with your Progress.

 

You should repeat this cycle, Checking your Personal Progress and trying New Approaches.

Summarizing

The OODA Loop is a Model that summarizes the Problem-Solving Process in 4 simple Steps.

 

Its name is an acronym for the 4 Steps it Proposes:

  • Observe: Analyze the Problem and Collect as much data as Possible.
  • Orient: Study the Data and find different ways to tackle the Problem.
  • Decide: Establish How the Problem will be Addressed.
  • Act: Implement the Necessary Actions to Solve the Problem.

 

How to take advantage of the OODA Loop:

  • It is an Easy Guideline to Remember.
  • It contains the Essence of a Problem-Solving Process.
  • It can be Taught to people Unfamiliar with Problem-Solving methods.
  • It is not as Obvious as it seems.

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