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OODA Loop illustration: military strategist John Boyd's framework for action in conflict is shown as a closed loop cycle of Orient, Decide, Act, Observe and back to the beginning. The cycle also applies to business when you reconsider the points on the cycle as Frame, Strategize, Test, Gather.


This is military strategist John Boyd’s framework for combat operations that also turns out to apply quite well to businesses and learning in general. It’s really not that far from the ol’ test-learn cycle or a good design process.

There’s lots of nuance to his framework, but some of the application of it that I like includes:

  1. The faster you can do this loop — at your startup or in a fight — the more stuff you will get to try and the faster you will learn
  2. If you’re in competition with another entity then completing your OODA loop fast, and acting to change the environment for them, disrupts their loop and forces them back to observe before they can act. It slows them down and creates confusion

I learned about it from Reid Hoffman’s excellent Masters of Scale podcast.

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