OODA Alpha, Part III: The OODA Loop

The OODA model grew from Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s combat-oriented research into psychological theory (Boyd, 1964, 1976a, 1976b, 1986, 1987a, 1987b, 1996; Fadok, Boyd, & Warren, 1995; Fadok, 1997; Osinga, 2007), and since then has been used in the military literature (Alex, 2000; Bower & Hout, 1988; Dickson, 1992; Gray, 1999; Hammond, 2001; Nagl, 2005; Plehn, 2000; Polks, 2002; Richards, 2003, 2006; Sparling, 2002; Sweeney, 2000) and for military doctrine (Department of National Defence, 1996; U.K. Ministry of Defence, 2002; U.S. Department of the Navy, 1995; U.S. Air Force, 1997; U.S. Army, 2003).

The OODA loop is named for the first letter in its four primary processes: Orient, Observe, Decide, and Act. While the model was initially described as a linear process (U.S. Marine Corps, 1997), such a model was recognized as cognitively naive (Cook, Leedom, Grynovicki, & Golden, 2000; Bryant, 2006). Boyd (1996) provides the following, updated visualization:


“The Essense of Winning and Losing”

The OODA model is informed by cybernetics (Boyd, 1976b; Osinga, 2007) so it is not surprising that like all cybernetic systems (Wiener, 1961; Smith & Smith, 1966), the OODA model includes a stimulus component, observation, and a response module, action. Within a dual processing framework, the Level 1 or implicit system is known as “Orientation,” while the Level 2 or explicit system is known as “Decision.” Orientation is always active and guides action through when decisions are made, action is subject to rational control as well.


OODA Alpha, a tdaxp series
1. Abstract
2. Dual Processing Systems
3. The OODA Loop
4. Decision
5. Orientation
6. A Theory of Mind
7. Reorientation
8. Disorientation
9. Education
10. Instruction
11. Student Interaction
12. Creativity
13. Conclusion
14. Bibliography

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