Made famous by John Boyd of the Air Force, the “OODA” loop: observe, orient, decide and act, can be useful in government circles. Boyd, a military strategist, applied OODA learning to combat operations, most notably in the Gulf War – where it has often meant the difference between life and death.
In today’s digital world, data and analysis have the potential to transform the essential process of learning, both for institutions and for the people who manage them.
Here’s how it works:
Observe: Gather the feedback needed to learn. Feedback is data on the results of action. Roughly half of all the data assembled since the beginning of time has been collected in the past two years, with more than 90 percent of it in digital form. Social networking has created an explosion of data and other communications.
Orient: Use analysis and expertise to assess relationships between actions and results. Numbers were originally created to measure and count acres and animals for collecting taxes. In today’s world, Google, for example, has found that predicting the path of a flu epidemic is made quicker and more accurate by analyzing billions of Internet searches, rather than by waiting on thousands of sick people to show up at hospitals.
Decide: Use engagement and algorithms to improve decision-making. In reality, digital communication and tools have been better for clarifying options than for making choices, but that is rapidly changing. In many cases, choices can now be made by algorithms. Algorithm usage has expanded from simply restocking supermarket shelves by formula, rather than by intuition, to the development of cars that can drive themselves safely through traffic.
Act: Coordinate implementation across more people and specialties. We need data standardization and collaboration, as with the customs operations that now share data so that most travelers can quickly and efficiently cross national borders while suspicious cases are identified and detained for closer inspection.
Can your organization use an approach like the OODA loop more effectively?
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