Get Inside Your Project’s Head

Vicki Wrona, PMP

The OODA Loop is a concept used by military strategists and law enforcement to “get inside” an opponent’s decision-making cycle. Here’s how the technique can help to keep your projects in control — or to bring troubled initiatives back on track before it’s too late.

I recently learned about a tool called the OODA loop. While the tool itself was created based on military fighter pilot observations and is now often used to train law enforcement, it has applications for use in business and personal life as well. Here we will discuss the applications of the OODA loop in business, and more specifically, in managing projects. First of all, OODA stands for:

1. Observe
2. Orient
3. Decide
4. Act

The concept of the OODA loop was first created by US Air Force Col. John Boyd during the Korean War. We all naturally follow this loop. If you are in a confrontation, you want to interrupt, or get inside, somebody else’s loop so that you instead of following, you now lead and can react faster than they can. At that point, they are chasing you on your OODA loop terms. This technique is often taught to police officers and law enforcement. For example, if someone were to break into your house, they know what they intend to do and so their OODA loop is ahead of yours. What you want to do is somehow disrupt their loop, or get inside it, so now you are the one in the lead…

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"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

- Janis Joplin

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