OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)

Lure with bait, strike with chaos! – Sun Tzu

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Speed is everything. We need to respond to changing circumstances much faster then our competitors and ensure we can react to the changing marketplace. We need to have shared goals that will allow us to engage with our competition faster than they can react. Using the OODA loop we can take stock of everything that is happening and really execute quickly. To do so we need to work as a unit and that means to figure out what the holes are and then rapidly move forward.

The OODA is a few things within a decision making framework:

  • Taking many small, low cost bets that result in an overall positive outcome.
  • Learning and reducing the bets that may not pay off by having a solid framework for why we are taking a bet in the first place.
  • Appropriate risk taking to aim higher towards bigger wins than to take the smaller wins. 50% chance to win $1 million versus 90% chance to win $100k.

John Boyd’s OODA Loop shows us how to execute at a high tempo to respond to changing circumstances and getting inside our Customers, Partners and Competitions decision making process. We will get within the Loop of our Customers to delight them, get within the Loop of our Partners to be ready to support them, and inside our Competitors to disorient and surpass them. All actions within the Organization will follow the OODA Loop and everything we do will need to undergo at a variable tempo that confuses and confounds the respond. This is how we make our Organization to Learn and Adapt Quickly.

The beauty of the OODA Loop is that it is effective for any Decision Making situation in life. If we consider that life is a 4D game, our 3d body and our progress through time we can consider that each iteration of the game creates a new outcome. Each game we choose to play has its own set of OODA that is independent from other situations. We need to be aware of each situation and the different OODAs we can do based on those situations. For example, how we OODA through software development is much different from how we OODA through Jiu-Jitsu. Each has a set of rules that are in play. Each has an objective, has a set of mental models that are most pertinent to that situation and criteria for winning. We need to understand these and figure out how to attain those while also changing the rules that people have to follow our rules.

An OODA has to vary its Tempo and Speed while executing rapidly. We need to be able to make decisions quickly and understand that errors will be made. The major point of the OODA is to prevent Loss Aversion and advance our position. The Loss Aversion is prevented because we are always advancing backed on our Observation of if we are doing better toward our goal or not. So we need to be aware that we need to move forward.

Speed matters. If you are slow to execute then you will fail. Sometimes it makes sense to go slow, but other times speed just needs to be speed. We need to execute fast at a 80-90% throughput on average.

The OODA also needs to behave a certain way.

Observe

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

We must collect all data points including Mistakes, Ideas, Stupid Ideas, Crazy Ideas, Small Changes, Big Changes, Customer Metrics, Customer Segments, Team Concerns, Customer Feedback, Impediments, Reviews, Team Feedback, 1:1 Feedback, Retrospectives, Competitive Landscape, Strategic Landscape, Economic Landscape, Political Landscape, Global Landscape, A/B Tests, Sales Prospects, Marketing Data, Process Constraints, Industry Analysis, Process Improvement, Competitive Strategy, Potential Future Failures, Failure of the 80/20 Rule, Weaknesses and Other Signals.

Further, all of these are important but the most important criteria are what are the rules of the game and what is my position relative to my opponent? What are my weaknesses that my opponent can take advantage of to prevent me from succeeding?

We will use this information as tactical knowledge and to build and improve our Mental Models of the world including where we are in Time-Space in relation to the observations we see. All this information will need to be gathered into a system and we must create new types of observations that we may not have considered. All of these Observations need to be processed regularly so we can Orient our execution.

Everyone must collect Observations. If you don’t see anything that needs improving then use the Theory of Constraints, find the slowest process point in the execution and create an observation around that. Then go to the next slowest, etc. An observation is short bursts of information this means that it needs to be gathered quickly and with Who, What, Where, Why, and How it affects the Vision.

Further, Observe also sets up ourselves relative to our goal. What is our current position relative to the outcome we want? What is success relative to what we have? What is our current state? These are important to constantly ask oneself in everything. If we don’t know what the state of the world is we cannot understand how to make the changes to get to where we want to go. So Observation needs to happen at a broad level to understand all the moving pieces that exist and figure out what you don’t know.

When you are Observing you will need to work backwards to also understand that that there are unknown, unknowns. This is to say there is information that you are not gathering because you don’t know to gather it. This is the

Report feedback frequently

  • We will use this to update and make things better.
  • Anything that is blocking you from completing your task will be addressed.
  • Do this by communicated directly or creating Messages in Message Board – Projects on how something can be improved.
  • We want the best work and we also want you to growth.
  • Constant feedback is the most effective to achieve that result.
  • Feedback will be provides frequently and be given in written form, this will allow you to see the good, bad and areas needed for improvement.
  • You should not see this as a reflection of yourself but as a way to learn and get better!
  • Feedback will be of the form:
  • What we like about your work
  • What work could use some improvement
  • Areas that we think you can learn or expand your knowledge on
  • Further, we shall have weekly one on ones to communicate any misunderstandings and clarify.
  • Anything you don’t understand should be communicated especially around code.
  • We can pair programming using VSCode and Live Share if you are confused about anything.
  • Use the 20 minute rule if you can’t figure something out in 20 mins then ask.
  • We prefer frequent code commits so you can get feedback about bugs and coding style, so don’t be afraid to push code even if it isn’t pretty.
  • Make it work, we will work together on making it pretty.

We also need to invert. What is it we want to achieve. How can we work backwards.

Success

Learn from Success

Survivorship Bias

Loss Aversion

Failure

Learn from failure.

Orient

Orientation should look at all the Observations through the lens of our Vision. We cannot and must not act on all of the Observations because it will create a whiplash effect if we use tactical information to change strategy. However, Orientation is the most critical part of what we do because there will be a million things we will uncover as part of the Observations that we need to synthesize into what we work on. This synthesis will happen in a few forms it will affect our Business Model Canvas and lead to the creation of Ideas through Projects and Experiments that address the Observations. We need to do this while holding true to our Vision and Principles otherwise we will drastically change directions which isn’t useful.

Orientation means we need to constantly simplify our Business Model and Projects, we need to review our decisions, and ensure people are informed so they understand the changing circumstances. Orient to outmaneuver our competition but ensure that winning means we are staying true to our Vision. If something is a good idea but it does not fulfill our Vision, don’t pursue it.

Orient tasks will need to be designed over time and there needs to be Projects designed with the goal of attaining a certain goal. These are done throughout the week to design the needs of the organization. Everyone should spend 1 Hour a day working on defining the projects, not doing them but thinking through completely a project and how it benefits the company. Go to the Idea section on what to do with this, but it is important to spend time really defining the project before doing it as it will create time to really understand what the project is trying to achieve.

Decide

All decisions should come down to the question: “Will this help or eventually help Deploy Ideas Faster to Advance Humanity?” This question should be picking projects, picking customers, picking tools and anything. If the answer is “no” then the answer is don’t do it. Decisions will have criteria based on Objectives and Key Results, Projects and Stories, and Sprints.

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are how we will set Quarterly and Yearly Goals for the organization. The reason for quarterly and yearly is because they are long enough duration that we can work on hard things. Every quarter, the organization will decide the corporate OKRs and these will trickle down into individual team OKRs. These are the singular goals that the entire Organization should work around.

Projects should fulfill these OKRs. The Objective should be a clear goal for where we are going that can be subdivided across teams. There should be clear measurable Key Results that can be calculated at any given moment. The Objectives and Key Results are there to aim the entire organization in the same direction. We need to get to a 75% score on the OKRs or higher every quarter and if not, we need to review if the goals we are striving for are relevant in the first place.

When making decisions make sure we are Inchworming. Ensure that our decisions are also working on our weaknesses as much as our strengths. This will reduce the range of our weakness to strength and ensures that our strengths are getting stronger, and our weaknesses become less weak. Projects should address both the strengths and the weaknesses. Further, the Value through our Products and Society will Inchworm Humanity.

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Focus on the 80/20 rule when making Decisions. Figure out the 20% that gives 80% of the value while increasing positive leverage towards our Vision. Chasing too many small fish will lead us astray from our Vision so it is important to focus on the 80/20 Principle. Simplify decisions to their essence, a hard decision is a series of small decisions. Attempting a hard-complex idea first is usually a waste of time, so start with a small kernel that is solid that you can iterate on. We need to decide Via Negativa, cutting anything from a decision that does not immediately need to be addressed. Work hard to remove things, not everything is a priority that you think it is. Make sure that the decisions are focused and that decisions are not bet the company decisions. Most organizations and teams can provide one or two products and services really well, focus and improve on those.

Even with all the Observations and Orientation we need to make decisions and we need to usually make decisions with 70-80% of the information. Making decisions with more than this amount of information will lead to slow execution. Sometimes we will be wrong, but it is important to make a calculated gamble with the information we have, not spend time and energy gathering more information that may not change out gamble.

Most importantly write out the steps you are going to take to address the decision. Writing out a process before execution leads us to make better decisions over time since it forces us to think through the outcomes and ensure that we understand how to doing things systematically. Writing is the measure twice, cut once method for knowledge work in the long run it saves time.

A/B Test things where there are no clear winner. It makes sense to test decisions in the wild if those decisions aren’t one way.

Invert. Look at things from the outside in. What is the smallest set of steps. Use Occam’s Razor to figure out which one will get to the outcome the quickest.

Do we need to do anything? As if we need to make a decision in the first place. Sometimes if something is bad just make it the exception to the rule. If the sample size increases then implement the rule.

Inversion

Before starting a project imagine you finished it. What can go wrong? Figure out all the points where things can go wrong and figure out how to fix those points.

Every idea needs a Premortum or a naysayer. Someone who takes the opposite point of view of bringing an idea. We need someone on a team that needs to take the contrarian view who can say how something can go wrong. If we are only looking at how an idea or decision is going to succeed we may be blind to the opposite of how a company can fail. This failure to see from the point of how we will fail will mean we are blind to a whole set of things that we will have to figure out or have not considered.

Looking at the inverse and really thinking about it from an inverse point of view will lead us to see things much more clearly in terms of what we need to do. For example, we do a project for a customer. What are all the ways the project can be delayed, how can it fail, how can it

Two Way Door vs One Way Door

Decisions are hard because we like to think most decisions are One Way Door decisions. One Way Door decisions are bet the farm kinds of decisions. They are the decisions that you need to think really clearly, hard and with great consideration of the inputs. They should really be very few and far between kinds of decisions. These decisions are not to be taken lightly and you want to think hard about them.

However, most decisions aren’t One Way Door decisions. They are Two Way Door. It is like trying to find a bar to go to on a Friday in a city you’ve never been to. You make the decision quickly, you are outside, people look friendly, you have some of the information about what you need to go in and you go in and it is a total ghost town. Was it a wrong decision? You had 70% of the input and you made a decision and find out it was bad. If a ghost town was not what you were looking for you would exit the bar and go try another one in the neighborhood. It makes no sense to keep staying at the bar.

Most decisions Perfect is the enemy of the good

Go with imperfect information. We will never be able to cover everything in a decision but we should be able to move forward.

Act

If you had a sound decision and the result is not what you expected don’t blame the decision of what you knew about the decision was sound when you made it. It it wasn’t then update your model to improve the decision. If a decision didn’t work out don’t fall for hindsight bias.

If you had a sound decision and the result is not what you expected don’t blame the decision of what you knew about the decision was sound when you made it. It it wasn’t then update your model to improve the decision. If a decision didn’t work out don’t fall for hindsight bias.

Action is two fold. Action for now and action for the future. Both are important. Action on now is performing the duties and necessities of the present as it related to our customers, partners, etc. Action for the future is creating a set of improvement with projects and experiments that leads to a better outcome in the future.

Action now means creating Standard Operating Procedures and Automations. Thus, you just follow the procedure when performing it and not have to think too much about it. Tasks that are acted on for now should have clear outcomes and step by step actions. If an action is no longer fulfilling its role or the performance is no longer beneficial it should stop being done. Automations mean there should be ways of automating the repetitive jobs over time. Action for now should take precedence over acting for the future, but we need to not stall for the future. However, if we are always acting on now we won’t be evolving which means long-term failure so work hard to strike a balance between the two.

Acting for the future is working on Projects and Stories that lead to our Vision. Act Fast once a Decision is made. Ensure things work first even if they do not scale and build a working solid core. Iterate to the desired outcome. Reduce variability and act on fewer high leverage activities. Bias toward simplicity and repeatability.

To ensure that hard things are done we need to have a daily Deep Work time of 60-90 minutes without distraction where the hard projects are addressed. This time should be held sacred and it is time without chat, email, or other distractions to focus deeply on a problem. While we peform our action anything that is a mistake, potential improvement, etc. needs to be created as an Observation.

We need to focus on Process Engineering and Process Excellence. Standardize and make repeatable any process that needs to be done more than once. This process should be improved overtime with a checklist. The processes should be reduce to their absolute essence and give people the ability to break the rules if it doesn’t fit with the paradigm or if there is a better way to do something. We need to ensure that every time we do something that the process gets more and more efficient. Cut the number of steps needed to achieve something over time.

Gamify

Poker is an amazing game because every decision you make you have a bet that goes with it. The more you believe you have an advantage against your player the more risk you can take while assuming you have a high reward. Will you succeed all the time? No, but there is a value you placed on a decision.

Gamification of tasks whether by adding a monetary value to decisions drives better decisions. Asking someone to bet or out a value on their decision forces them to think harder than asking them is this worth doing? Asking someone to stake certain amount of money into something forces a skin in the game decision on the outcome and also allows us to gauge what the hand we are playing actually is.

Bets are also a way to hold ourselves accountable and a way to short circuit the ability to get things done. Understand Game Theory and figure out what the optimal play is and create situations where we are forcing the hand.

We get shit done. When we say we are going to do something we do it otherwise we don’t make that commitment. We need to be brutally honest with our time commitment and understand when and how we can get tasks done and how we are going to be able to bring those things to the world. Choosing how to allocate time though can be tricky. So often we get pulled in multiple directions. It may be personal excitement, professional aspiration, social obligation, stubborn resolution, or any combination thereof. Name your justification for committing to a task, and it applies to how our time gets divided up and ultimately we become less efficient.

Additionally, we create the possibility of cognitive dissonance when we aren’t brutally honest with ourselves. We all know the feeling of that project that keeps getting put on the back burner, that section of a task we either can’t work through or don’t spend the time working through. Sometimes this may apply to every task which makes up our job. This is often a sign that we’re simply not doing something we find meaningful, something which is rewarding for us. Yet we may continue to try and get it done with the idea that it will improve our personal, professional, or social situation; all the while getting it done makes us feel like shit. When we choose to get the shit done that fits with the principles discussed here, that has meaning externally and then empowers internally, then the passion will follow naturally.

We delivery results

We take ideas from the opposing side

Challenge yourself. Go after bigger and bigger challenges. Do it while holding onto the values we have.

Do fewer things and find ways to remove tasks from your plate not add more. These tasks should be higher in value and make things easier for everyone.

Moral Risk Taking

When you are playing a multi iteration Game we need to understand how we are responding to our competitors. It may be easy to get into a short term game that is morally bad when we should be focused on the long term game.

Some Plays are Made to Show Your Opponents Plays

Some plays you will lose and you should do it intentionally to show your opponents play. From here you can understand how to mode forward and play effectively if you make small plays where you most likely will lose but force their hand.