Observe, Orient, Decide, Act - OODA Loop. If you haven’t heard about this framework before, OODA Loop was developed by Strategist and US Air Force Colonel, John Boyd. It’s a four step process for making effective decisions in chaotic and high-stress situations. Doug and Jess take this framework, dig into it, and walk through how we can utilize this framework in our business.
- [RevOps Show] Episode 68: The Behavioral Science Behind Decision Making - Insights from 6 Psychological Concepts
- [RevOps show] Episode 13: What Are Opportunity Costs & How Should They Impact Your Decision Making
Pre-show Banter: It’s a big week and has been a big week. Doug and Jess are going head to head in fantasy football, two RevOps Show recordings are happening back to back, and Jess won the rumble debate in our all hands meeting this week. And the two get into who the best character on The West Wing is.
Today we are talking about the OODA Loop framework - a flywheel as Doug refers to it. It’s a framework for dealing with uncertain and chaotic situations. This framework has been used in fighter pilot training, and while the work we are doing isn’t life or death when things become high-stress, we can use this framework to create a learning organization. A learning organization results in greater alignment and stability. Think of RevOps in this scenario as the “fighter pilots” of go-to-market strategies.
RevOps brings an operating system to a complex ecosystem, and managing trade-offs is a big part of their job. Every business is unique because it’s a combination of unique individuals, though the unique aspects of a business make up only about 20% of the whole. 80% is the same. Treating every business the same leads to commoditization, but OODA Loop can be applied to any business to help maintain command and adjust to urgency. In RevOps, applying OODA Loop can help in client delivery and problem solving.
There’s not a day that goes by where something new or unexpected doesn’t happen. When something unexpected happens, our impulse is typically to try and immediately fix it. In many situations, though, the proper response is to do nothing and observe. We are wired to identify differences and react to them because adrenaline and cortisone are released which can impair decision making and rational thinking. Cortisone restricts blood vessels and increases our heart rate, which is why our logical thinking becomes inhibited.
OODA Loop is broken down into four stages:
- Observe - gather information and understand the situation
- Orient - analyze and interpret the information
- Decide - make a clear and timely decision based on the analysis
- Act - implement a decided course of action
Observing the situation objectively and without judgment is the first step to gaining a deeper understanding of what is truly happening.
Getting an outsider’s perspective or talking through the situation with someone else can help provide clarity and gain a different point of view. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, the “rubber duck test” can help - it’s a technique of explaining the situation to an inanimate object to help translate your thoughts into words to open up critical thinking.
Taking the time to observe and understand the situation before reacting can prevent further mistakes from happening. And changing your mindset from concern to curiosity can have a significant impact on your ability to navigate stressful situations. Approaching the situation with curiosity and asking questions can empower you and shift your perspective from feeling powerless to powerful. Most of the time the reason behind a high-stress situation is that something that wasn’t even considered came to light, which is why staying open-minded is important.
The orient step is often skipped but is a critical thinking step. In RevOps, the orient step involves understanding the real problem that needs to be solved. This stage may require more time because we’re seeking to understand what’s truly going on before taking action. It’s important to observe what hasn’t changed and what has changed in the situation. Skipping this phase will only lead you to jump into action and get caught up in the never-ending cycle of problem solving. This entire stage is about pulling things apart, putting them back together, and finding the relationship between unrelated items, ideas, and actions.
The orient stage is also where hypothesis development occurs. It’s important to seek out all dissenting viewpoints here in order to have a more thorough understanding of the situation.
One thing to keep in mind with developing hypotheses here is to think with a Bayesian approach - where you consider what has actually changed and use A/B testing, comparing results over different periods of time rather than running tests in parallel. The goal here is to use learnings from previous experiments to aid your next hypothesis. By lowering the stakes and experimenting more, you can build momentum and move faster while maintaining stability.
When it comes to deciding, there is no one size fits all approach. It’s important to analyze all aspects of a situation before taking action. Just because something seems obvious doesn’t mean it’s the right solution. And people may offer suggestions or advice, which is great, but it’s important to evaluate them critically and make decisions based on what is best for the business.
Taking action is the last stage. Even if you decide not to do anything, the action is nothing.
- The timing of RevOps is important when there is no right decisions nd no wrong decision.
- The whole point of trade-offs is the fact that there is no right or wrong, there’s a choice.
- Doug’s definition of unique is something Jess hasn’t thought about before - 80% the same and 20% different.
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