The Daily Standup
Episode 286

Exploring Boyd's OODA Loop - Orient

AgileDad published on

The Elements of OODA

The OODA loop is comprised of 4 majors elements:
Observe — Orient — Decide — Act

In a team environment I explain these four elements as

Observe — Understand the environment
Orient — Align on what is important
Decide — Agree on a good course of action
Act — Do it

Orient on what’s important

To me the things you really want to keep an eye on when trying to ship a new product are the factors that could significantly affect delivery be it positively or negatively.

Putting my finance hat on, all of these can be classified as risks because they relate to an uncertainty of some kind.

With that in mind, my favourite approach to orient is the Risk Impact map.

Because it is so simple, it is also extremely powerful.

The Risk Impact map is a tried and tested favourite within traditional project management. Blended with a little bit of design thinking though you can really push its application. Primed with a few simple risk categories, both customer and delivery centric risks can be explored.

Teams are asked to raise any risks they have in any one of four categories.

Desirability — Will a customer want it?
Feasibility — Can we technically build it given our current environment?
Viability — If we build it, will we be able to make money from it?
Consumability — Will a customer be able to find it and consume it?

By providing this starting frame we shift thinking away from mainly feasibility orient risks towards a holistic systems view that helps expose additional risks that would typically remain hidden.

In practice you’ll find risks don’t fit in neat boxes so it’s ok to just pick any of the categories that suits. It’s more important to capture risks and expose them, than it is to perfectly categorise them.

Because your information about the environment is imperfect, don’t worry about finding every risk possible. What your team captures are likely the things that trouble them the most. As long as you revisit the risk map regularly you can operate effectively with a high rate of uncertainty.

With the map completed, teams are challenged with thinking about the smallest thing that can be done to de-risk items that have been identified as the most likely and impactful.

Visually, teams are tasked with taking the items in the top right quadrant and doing the least amount of work possible to shift these left or down.

With this in mind, it’s now time to decide on a plan.

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