Agile Project Management – OODA Loop

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This blog post will talk about a very practical way of managing projects in real-time, while keeping an Agile mindset. OODA Loop stands for Observe – Orient – Decide – Act Loop. This method is about continuous monitoring, adapting and decision making. It is essentially a flow diagram to monitor and implement ideas quickly.

OODA Loop was invented by Colonel John Boyd of the U.S. Air Force, during military operations. He was a fighter pilot who invented strategies to enable quick decision making during his missions and fighting against his opponents.

OODA Loop can be used for:

  • Internal Project Management
    • Observe: Observe the internal processes that are being used for carrying out the project. Which of these processes are bringing results and which of those are creating roadblocks. Are the processes efficient enough that they reduce the team’s overhead and help everyone to stay on track?
    • Orient: Based on the above observations, steer the team/process accordingly. Discuss with the team what changes (if any) that need to be brought about to make things more effective. Analyse the approaches, and understand what should remain and what needs to be removed.
    • Decide: Make concrete decisions (and document) as to how the team is going to move forward. Ensure the stakeholders are on the same page about the decisions and approve of it.
    • Act: Implement on the decisions made. Ensure that processes have been updated to incorporate the new decisions.

OODA Loop should be conducted on an ongoing basis as processes, approaches, tools, and teams get updated.

  • Keeping track of the market/competition
    OODA Loop can be used for observing the market for what the competition is doing and how to beat it. For this section, I have used WiFi technology deployment project as an example

    • Observe – Keep an eye on the competitor’s strategy – what technology they are working on, who are their vendors, what is their cost, what is their target market, what is their expected profit
    • Orient – Discuss strategies with senior management and put forward a plan for the future. It may mean that we may shift our strategy to be more in line with that of the competitor’s or we may continue working on our goals.
      • (After orienting the company’s strategy in the best way possible, “observe” if the approach and direction continues to be the best one, with respect to how the competitor is moving ahead)
    • Decide – If the competitor is planning to launch their WiFi technology with small to medium sized business (retail stores, coffee shops, malls), we can decide to launch our technologies in bigger locations (stadiums). The business model, revenue streams and profits will be different.
      • (Once the decision is made there will can be a benchmarking analysis between the two competitors – how many customers, cost per customer, cost per venue, profit per venue, etc. Based on this analysis, more “Observe” and “Orient” meetings will need to take place. Check if the competitor decided to change their original strategy and maneuver in a different direction. Does that put our company at an advantage or disadvantage?)
    • Act – Take action on the decision made – work on engineering design and implementation for WiFi in stadiums. Keep a track of progress and perform validation tests.
      • (All along keep an eye on what the competitor is doing and how our company’s final product will play into the market and make a profit)

By using OODA Loop, one can observe and unfold events quickly, to get to know of the competition’s decision cycle and use it to their own advantage.

 

“Think Big, Act Bold, Start Simple, And Iterate Fast” – John R Patrick

 

 

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