Thought for the Evening – June 29, 2016

Observe, orient, decide, act.

The phrase came up in discussion at work today.  (The essence of my job is to help people observe what they need to observe so that they can get oriented and make better decisions – to get them high quality “actionable information”.)  From Lind’s piece (linked to above):

[U.S. Air Force Col. John Boyd] posited that all conflict is composed of repeated, time-competitive cycles of observing, orienting, deciding, and acting.  The most important element is orientation: whoever can orient more quickly to a rapidly changing situation acquires a decisive advantage because his slower opponent’s actions are too late and therefore irrelevant—as he desperately seeks convergence, he gets ever increasing divergence.

After the discussion I thought about the applicability of the “OODA loop” to other domains;  specifically, environmental issues. Maybe it’s a stretch to say that Boyd’s idea applies.   The idea that sticks with me from that paragraph is the contrast between seeking convergence and experiencing divergence.   With respect to the environment, Americans in general are lousy observers.  We haven’t oriented ourselves to our environment and, because we haven’t, I think we’ll have a very hard time adapting when (if?) we start experiencing significant divergence, e.g., climate change disrupting agriculture.


No Country for Old Men remains one of my favorite movies.  Llewelyn Moss was a riveting character because everything he did was part of an OODA loop.  His ability to observe, orient, and adapt made him really compelling to me.   Chigurh live the OODA loop too.  He was a force of nature.  That he lacked Moss’ humanity is probably why I was more drawn to Moss’ character.


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