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IA&E Concepts -- The Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop

IA&E Concepts -- The Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA) Loop

Frank Kenlon (Prof of Int'l Acq, DAU/DSMC-Int'l)
DoD International Acquisition and Exportability (IA&E) activities are often conducted in uncertain, high risk environments.

Colonel John Boyd, USAF developed a theoretical construct in the 1960s -- the OODA Loop -- to apply to the risks and uncertainties involved in air-to-air combat. How might this theory be applied to the IA&E challenges facing the DoD acquisition workforce, particularly by the International Acquisition Career Path (IACP) experts responsible for advising Program Executive Officers (PEOs), Program Management Offices (PMOs), and Integrated Product Teams (IPTs)?

Critical thinking specialists have observed that the OODA Loop is not just a military theory. In fact, it's practical concept that can be used as a rational thinking model in confusing or chaotic situations -- including aerial dogfights, business decision making, and international defense acquisition activities.

IA&E experts in DoD and industry must routinely:
  • Observe the global defense environment to identify potential International Cooperative Program (ICP) and Defense Sales opportunities.
  • Orient their organization's efforts to analyze and synthesize various cultural aspects, new information, and previous experience related to potential opportunities.
  • Decide which course(s) of action should be pursued based on a hypothesis they generate.
  • Act quickly and decisively to obtain a competitive advantage vis-a-vis competing partnership or sales offers.

I have participated in numerous IA&E initiatives with PMOs/IPTs over the years that have successfully used the OODA Loop approach to achieve their programs' IA&E objectives despite the many unforeseen challenges and difficulties they encountered in a harsh and unforgiving international defense marketplace. I encourage you to consider using it in your future IA&E endeavors.

Until next time, Prof K