Wilson Research Group Blog

The Market Intelligence OODA Loop: A Dynamic Business Model

Our whole approach — market research at market speed — centers on putting our clients in front of the data they need for everyday decisions and actions. Speeding up the cycle of information means executing at a faster pace than competitors and paying even more attention to proven research processes. The data must be accurate in the first place.

This idea is summed up in a concept known as the OODA Loop (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_Loop), a concept developed for winning wars on the battlefield. It was a factor in winning the first Gulf War in the Middle East. It has also been used in business management courses to influence strategy in winning the skirmishes in market places. Such a model has to be used with caution, but the main ideas are simple and relevant.

The OODA Loop is shorthand for a series of short steps that many businesses and competitive teams do naturally, but don’t have a name for it.

Observation (Means observing unfolding events, gathering research and intelligence, which includes actively collecting intelligence about the battlefield/market where the action is taking place, the so called frontlines, or in business, the place where the customer decides on which product or service to buy, the moment of customer action.)

Orientation (Means sythesizing and analyzing and empathizing with the overall traditions, backgrounds, settings, previous experiences, successes, rejections, and observations into a whole picture of the environment in which the action is taking place.)

Decision (Means arriving at plan of action based on all known intelligence, observation and orientation.)

Action (Means executing the plan of action and feeding back positive and negative results into O-O steps above)

Those who execute the OODA Loop faster and more efficiently than their competitors are more responsive to current market needs and market forces, and will win the battle for the hearts and minds of their audiences.

Without the OODA Loop…

“we will find it impossible to comprehend, shape, adapt to, and in turn be shaped by an unfolding, evolving reality that is uncertain, everchanging and unpredictable.”
John Boyd, author of the OODA Loop.

Pilots in air combat present an extreme case in point of being trained in executing the OODA Loop faster than their counterparts. Here the main importance of the Observation Step of the loop comes into sharp focus: the data fed to the pilot must be accurate, must be easy to assemble and make sense of, and must be current.

Colonel John Boyd, who developed the concept of the OODA Loop, placed the highest importance in the loop on Step 2, Orientation, a place of synthesis and analysis of the total environment. It is what provides the difference between what informs your decisions and what informs that of your competitor.

Not unlike the pilot, the product marketing manager or entrepreneur must have a similar systematic way to arrive at valid market decisions that will outperform her market counterparts. Although the product marketing manager is not in a life threatening position like a pilot, her product line is. Her product line will continue to perform well or will wither away based on the manager’s ability to use and execute in a timely manner her market intelligence loop.

Bottom Line: The OODA Loop is a simple easy-to-remember model of a common sense idea. Accurate, up-to-the-minute, easy-to-access market intelligence should be in the arsenal of all business managers if they are to make customer-sensitive decisions that will ensure the survival and success of their product lines and services. As any combat pilot will tell you, flying by the seat of your pants is not an option.


1. Wikipedia background on the OODA Loop by John Boyd (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_Loop)
2. http://www.chetrichards.com/modern_business_strategy/boyd/essence/eowl_frameset.htm
Without the OODA Loop “we will find it impossible to comprehend, shape, adapt to, and in turn be shaped by an unfolding, evolving reality that is uncertain, everchanging and unpredictable.” John Boyd, author of the OODA Loop.