• Revising Boyd for Bureaucracy: OODA 2×2

    by  • November 4, 2009 • Everything Else • 6 Comments

    Mike and I have been kicking around the question of “why don’t organizations act” as we get Buttered Side Down, the historic risk management consultancy off the ground.

    One thing we’ve come up with is this revision of John Boyd’s OODA loop. Boyd was a fighter pilot, and he lost most of his fights with bureaucracy. We think there’s a reason for that.


    The OODA2x2 model suggests that there are two pairs distinct of activities in the OODA loop: beginning and completing, plus seeing and doing. In organizations, senior people begin things, and junior people complete them. Senior people see things, and junior people do them. This creates an implicit problem getting organizations to change based on observations: the organizational hierarchy is polarized along the OODA loop.

    Let me say that again: the organizational hierarchy is polarized along the OODA loop.

    Senior people see and begin, junior people do and complete. This tension, between the ranks of an organization, then becomes friction. The tension between senior and junior people plays out along the OODA loop, where it slows real change.

    Deming‘s “drive out fear“, plus modern network theory, may be essential adjuncts to OODA in implementing effective organizational change on the time scales required for mitigating historic risks.

    The OODA2x2 model is rated Unbuttered.


    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    6 Responses to Revising Boyd for Bureaucracy: OODA 2×2

    1. Pingback: John Boyd and the OODA Loop « Automatic Ballpoint

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