U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd(1927- 1997) is mostly forgotten now, mostly remembered by those who study strategies.However,his contribution to the strategy during the last Century was enormous and his concepts are still taught in U.S.A. and other countries.
Boyd was a U.S fighter pilot during the Korean war and honed his skills to maneuver himself to an advantageous position within 40 seconds. Hence he was known as “40-second Boyd.” He not only practiced his newly acquired skills ,but went on to train other pilots too and his squadron had a ratio of 10 enemy planes to every one of theirs downed.
After the Korean war he developed his methods, did extensive research on all historical wars and strategies and came up with a number of important concepts and methods.
The first, and one of the most important concepts he developed and shred is the OODA Loop, known as the Boyd Cycle by some in his honor.
That is, he broke down all decision-making processes in all spheres of activities such as individual, group, organizational and governmental in to four components.This was found out to be true in al speres of decision making and has spurned a lot of interest in diverse fields who applied his method of decision making to their advantage.
The four steps are:
It is seen that the Boyd cycle(or OODA Loop ) is being used increasingly in diverse fields other than in war.It is being increasingly used in fields such as sports, litigation, negotiations and marketing with good results.
The four steps can be described as follows:
This means getting information, not only by sight(as implied by the word observation), that is the first stage of all decision-making. This information could come from the personal observations as well as from information provided by others. It could also be gathered from the people, documentation or even media to mention a few.
This is to me, the most important of the four steps. It really means the processing of information that has been gathered in the previous step. Boyd, in a model provided in 1996, shows that this is determined by:
It is seen that this second step has an item called “new information.”It shows that Boyd himself acknowledges the receipt of new information in the processing stage,which is a must in a rapidly changing scenario. On the other hand, it shows that once we start processing,it is possible to go through the loop from the second stage, thereby increasing the efficiency and pace of decision-making.
This means the taking of a decision upon the processing of information.
The vital final step is to act upon the decision.It means that there is no value in decision-making unless it is put in to effect.
Jagath Gunawardana Attorney-at-law