Variations of the OODA Loops 2, The Naive Boydian Loop

Note: This is a selection from Variations of the OODA Loop, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

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It is not simply because of John Boyd that OODA is no longer just a word that means a type of bear.23 Chet Richards, John Boyd’s “flame-keeper,”24 is largely responsible for the world’s current knowledge of the OODA Loop. Boyd changed his OODA loop over time, creating two major versions.25 Thankfully, both Boydian OODA Loops are included in Dr. Richard’s Certain to Win power point presentation26


In describing the Toyota manufacturing process, also a theme of Richards’,27 Peter Dickson28 flawlessly describes the naive Boydian loop

Toyota and other fast-cycle companies resemble the World War II fighter pilots who consistently won dogfights, even when flying in technologically inferior planes. The U.S. Air Force found that winning pilots completed the so-called OODA loop — Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action — faster than their opponents. Winning pilots sized up the dynamics in each new encounter, read its opportunities, decided what to do, and acted before their opponents could.

The naive Boydian loop has the four familiar stages of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting,29 and always works in that order. No stage is skippable, and it is impossible to fall back to a previous stage without first continuing the loop.30 Dickson’s words are quoted from a Harvard Business Review article,31 indicating the wide reach of naïve Boydianism. Because decision is separate but subsequent to orientation,32 orientation in the naive Boydian model is often seen as merely a form of assessment.33 Because one’s orientation affects what one observes through feedback, orientation and observation together have been described as “epistemic reasoning – ie, reasoning about knowledge.”34


Variations of the OODA Loop, a tdaxp series:
Variations of the OODA Loop 1: Introduction
Variations of the OODA Loop 2: The Naive Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 3: The Sophisticated Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 4: Pseudo-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 5: Post-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 6: Bibliography

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