What is the OODA Loop?


The OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) was developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.

Diagram of the OODA loop.


He applied the concept to the combat operations process, often at the operational level during military campaigns. It is often applied to understand commercial operations and learning processes. The approach explains how agility can overcome raw power in dealing with human opponents. It is especially applicable to cyber security and cyberwarfare.

The OODA loop has become an important concept in litigation, business, law enforcement, management education, and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of “observe, orient, decide, act”. An entity (whether an individual or an organisation) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby get inside the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage.

The Chief Advisor to the UK Prime Minister Dominic Cummings credits the success of the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum to its faster processing of OODA loops, along with the focus of Vote Leave on disrupting the OODA loops of the opposing Britain Stronger in Europe campaign team.

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