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Boyd: OODA Loop Model Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The OODA Loop model was developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret) during the Korean War.

This looping concept referred to the ability possessed by fighter pilots to cycle through the four actions that allowed them to succeed in combat. It is now used by the U.S. Marines and other organi­zat­ions. The premise of the model is that decisi­on-­making is the result of rational behavior in which problems are viewed as a cycle of Observ­ation, Orient­ation (situa­tional awaren­ess), Decision Making, and Action. Boyd diagrammed the OODA loop.


Scan the enviro­nment and gather inform­ation from it. Gather as much current inform­ation from as many sources as possible. One of the key challenges to effective observ­ation is knowing what inform­ation to monitor and applying the right filters to each piece of inform­ation.


Use the inform­ation to form a mental image of the circum­sta­nces. That is, synthesize the data into inform­ation. As more inform­ation is received, you "­dec­ons­tru­ct" old images and then "­cre­ate­" new images.

Note that different people require different levels of details to perceive an event. Often, we imply that the reason people cannot make good decisions is that people are bad decisions makers — sort of like saying that the reason some people cannot drive is that they are bad drivers. However, the real reason most people make bad decisions is that they often fail to place the inform­ation that they do have into its proper context. This is where "­Ori­ent­ati­on" comes in. Orient­ation emphasizes the context in which events occur, so that we may facilitate our decisions and actions. That it, orient­ation helps to turn inform­ation into knowledge. And knowledge, not inform­ation, is the real predictor of making good decisions.



Consider options and select a subsequent course of action. The goal is to make better and faster choices than your opponent. The ability to predict the future can make the difference between success or failure.

Boyd also identified five main forces that influence our decisions:
Cultural traditions
Genetic heritage
The ability to analyze and synthesize
Previous experience level
New inform­ation coming in


Carry out the conceived decision. Once the result of the action is observed, you start over. Note that in combat or when competing against others, you want to cycle through the four steps faster and better than the compet­ition, hence, it is a loop, rather than a one-time affair.

Finally, the actions and reasoning behind it should be transm­itted to others through the use of an After Action Review so that other can gain experience rom the challenge and its resolution or failure.

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