No Action – No Change

I was recently discussing with a friend the tendency in organisations to TALK about ISSUES rather than ACT to solve PROBLEMS.

Teams tie themselves in knots wrestling with high level issues (which can never be fully resolved) and either no longer see local problems or won’t act on smaller problems in the fear of contradicting some higher level values. In either case, they have forgotten how to act to act quickly to solve presenting problems.

This friend had spent much of his working life in the military and told me about the OODA Loop, also known as the Boyd Diagram after Colonel John Boyd, a fighter pilot and military strategist. Boyd deconstructed the process of combat and realised that if he could cycle and recycle through four  activities quicker than the enemy he would win the fight.

The activities are:

  • Observe
  • Orientate
  • Decide
  • Act.

The essence is ACTION: nothing changes until the action is executed. Until then either nothing changes or the enemy strikes first.

My experience of most organisations is that they are more comfortable in Observe and Orientate and have a reticence Decide and Act to solve the problems waiting to be done.Here’s the OODA Loop:

The Boyd Diagram