OODA Loops Proactive Model – AOODA Loop


Concepts are important in scientific work as well as in practice. They direct our thinking and make us focus on some phenomenon at the expense of others, thus creating a form of “tunnel vision”. This is as true in study of “OODA Cycle” as a decision making model. OODA cycle refer to decision making cycle of Observe , Orient , Decide and Act , developed by Military strategist  Col John Boyd. Even though the OODA cycle is by far the best known models, it is useful to remind the origin. The cycle was originally developed in an attempt to explain why US fighter pilots were more successful than their adversary in Korean War. In later work, Boyd developed the OODA loop into a more general model of winning and losing. It was intended to apply to various forms of combat and not only one – on – one fighter plane engagement.




To induce element of pro action in otherwise reactive OODA Cycle



OODA cycle starts with  observation of the changes in situation and circumstances, followed by  orientation as to what has happened and  where one  stands in respect of    the changed situation  , decide a course of action and finally act . Right after action has been performed, new cycle starts. As per Loyds , the key to win lies in being able to  complete the loop faster than the opponent with better quality decisions.

Due to the fact that the loop starts with observation and waiting for the opponent to act , Loyds has made it  conceptually a non proactive model which is reactive in nature  by design.


It is recommended that the loop should start with ANTICIPATION  there by making it an AOODA loop. Before opponent has acted and one begins with the process of orientation, one must anticipate various possible outcomes in order of probability with solutions to the same. Anticipation by a leder worth his salt will be somewhere around 70 – 80 % similar to what eventually happens on ground . Incorporation of Anticipation will put the leader in better decision making position due to following advantages

- Leader will be better prepared with possible outcomes and well deliberated solutions to the same

- Time taken in orientation will reduce by 70%( Most important , considering  the fact that completing the loop faster than opponent is the ultimate aim of the whole process)

- Decisions will of better quality  as  it will be a well thought of and analyzed decision and not a real time one as was in the OODA loop. As a result the leader will complete the loop much faster than earlier and that too with much better analyzed decisions.

It is noteworthy that the primary task of a Leader at all level and in all org are only two. Firstly , to motivate , inspire and ensure effective training . Secondly to derive most efficient course of action  by employing his ability to read the situation , anticipate with his experience , and take most appropriate decision to extract maximum output with minimum  efforts and resources.  The same is also true  in AOODA loop. In the complete decision making model, the stages where quality of leader will affect the quality of outcome is Anticipation and Decision. These are the only two "thinking oriented " functions of the entire process . Rest three steps are a matter of execution for a well trained team.


In the  picture , followers and executioners see  seeds in the apple ,  a strategic leader,  however , is the one who is  able to see apples in those seeds. AOODA cycle will motivate leaders at all level to develop this habit and play their role of a Decision Maker more efficiently and effectively.

144 thoughts on “OODA Loops Proactive Model – AOODA Loop

  1. A very lucid way to explain to a profound thought. In fact many of the inventions including information theory, internet, GPS etc etc were first developed in the military and then were adopted in the civilian domain….. in fact military too spawned many social revolutions as well for example women started working in factories in Germany during the great war. Theories evolved through great deal of hardening before they came out in the public domain. The idea of introducing A in OODA indeed makes it dynamic and this has been discussed in disciplines like Systems Dynamics (Jay Forrestor MIT), Game Theory etc. What I mean is that A can deeply benefit from systems dynamics or results from Game theory etc. This will be a very useful social science work developed with military insights and applied in civilian domain like many great inventions and models.

    1. Can’t agree more. And rightly so as military has the richest collection of best practices collected over centuries. They couldn’t have been any other way as when ever it was second best , they payed for it in Blood.

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