Decision making, something we do all day long and never really think about. All day long you decide to do things really with out thinking about it. You get in the car, start the car and take off down the road without really taking time to think about all the complex decisions you are having to make. Internally you calculate how fast you are going and confirm it with the what the car is saying. You make a right hand turn after calculating the distance, speed and timing it will take you to make the turn before the other car coming toward you is to close.
Of course some folks make less then thoughtful decisions when behind the wheel. Which makes the rest of us decided if jail is really that bad or not.........
For lots of situations we deal with on a daily basis we make list. We gather information, we compare outcomes from the information we have. And only after we have done these things do we choose a course of action.
We unconsciously use an O.O.D.A. Loop thousands of times a day. What if we could consciously use this process to increase our ability to make decisions? Even increase the speed in which we could make these decisions?
This way of describing how we make decisions was originally used to help fighter pilots make decisions. The link can lead you to a more detail explanation.
Who more then a fighter pilot would need to make decisions, life or death decisions, as quickly as possible? Not to many of us.
Observe - We have to have our head up either physically or metaphorically. You do not know there is an issue if you do not collect the information indicating there is an issue.
Orient - We have to face, literally and figuratively, the issue. Focusing on the issue at hand while letting go of everything which does not have to do with the issue.
Decide - After passing through the first two phases we come up with a plan or solution to the issue.
Act - We follow through with the plan. The plan based on the information we have gathered.
Sounds simple enough. Fits in with our Keep It Simple Stupid concept. Yet this seemingly simple idea can be utilized for so many different situations or issues. Like most things we talk about, we want to cover as many things as we can with as little as we can. One item for many situations is a great thing.
How do we apply this concept. After all you can have a million ideas or a bag full of supplies. If you can not apply the ideas or utilize your items they are useless.
Need a bandaid for the little one? Some time before you knew this could come up. You spent a couple of dollars at the Dollar Store. You know to clean out the wound and then cover it with the bandaid. Emergency over! You can do this because at some point you acknowledged a "bad" thing could happen, you focused on the issue, you came up with a plan and bought some bandaids.
Maybe a really bad day has come up? Maybe you are facing a bad guy with a knife?
Maybe the fire is just down the street or over the hill?
Knowing the OODA Loop and how to apply it will help you make it through either of these situations and so many more. How?
Physical encounter with guy in picture...... You need to make your situation better. As in right now!
Observe - you acknowledge he is a threat. Your past the "why me" or "why is this happening" phase. You clearly define this as a threat you must deal with!
Orient - you turn to address the threat. Your focus is the threat. Nothing else matters at the moment. With orientating yourself to the threat you have now placed all your sharp pointy things toward the threat. Fist, feet and even your teeth if you have to use them!
Decide - Fight or flight. Now that you are focused on the threat you can decide what to do.
Act - Do something to better your position! As the guy goes past you, take the pen you were using to sign autographs and put it in his eye.
Of course all of this happens faster then it took you to read about it. One of the reasons this concept worked well for fighter pilots. You have also interrupted the guy with the knife OODA Loop. He has to start back a square one. Hopefully you have sped up your own loop and are a step ahead of him now.
Which brings use to how most of us will use this concept. We can speed up our own OODA Loop to give use more time to make better decisions when something happens.
By covering some of the process before a situation arises you can increase the speed of the decision making process. Take the second situation, one friends of mine faced recently, a fire coming toward the house.
You find out the weather women/man is calling for fire conditions over the next few days. For those of us in California we know a call of Santa Anna winds is going to bring fire. Not an 'if', this almost always means a fire is coming. In fact I can not think of any time in the recent past a fire did not happen somewhere once they called for Santa Anna winds over a day or two.
Observe - You pay attention to the news more. Maybe you look to the horizon a little more then you do on other days.
Orient - You hear there is a fire near your home.
Decide - This is where your prior planning speeds up your loop. You have sat down, when not under pressure of a real situation and figured out all the 'what if's?'. You already know where the important papers are kept. You already know what you "need" to make it a few days away from the house. You already have a stash of cash to pay for a hotel room. Your gas tank is half full. Your iCloud is already full of family pictures. Add in all the other things you can already have squared away when this situation comes up.
You have to go through the loop less times then your neighbor. This gives you the ability to be a step ahead of the situation.
Cool. How much time we got?
Cool. Grab these things............ Done.
We still got ten minutes!
Cool. Let's also grab these things, since we have time.......... Done.
But we still have five minutes, we need to do something!
Cool. We got a couple of minutes?
WHY ARE YOU SO CALM!?!?!?!?!?!?
Prior planning.............. Wanna panic? We got like three minutes? We can fit it in if you would like?
(this is the part where they roll their eyes at you and call you names!)
We all want to be in a position where nothing bad ever happens. Well that is not life. If we apply this concept of the OODA Loop to our prior planning we can increase the odds of us coming out in a good spot at the end of the emergency. Of course this means we have to get over the first hurdle to any sort of planning. We have to get over the "Why me?" or "Why is this happening?" phase first.
One way to do this is to plan now before an event occurs. Take the most common event in your area. Maybe it is an ice storm? Maybe a tornado? Maybe you drive a long way to work everyday? What are the major issue you would face in any of these situations? Grab a piece of paper..... go on and grab one now while you are reading this and have a few moments to orient yourself to the issues. We will wait.............
The rest of us will enjoy this picture of Snoopy.
Your back? Ok, what is the first priority during your event? Write it down. How do you cover this first priority? Write down the answer. You have just sped up your first OODA Loop. While your sitting here, write down the second priority. What is the answer to cover this priority? Write it down. Now you have sped up two decisions you will have to address. I am sure if you are reading this post you have the ability to follow this thought process further down the line.
Take your plans and put them in a binder if you want to. We have set plans or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) we do without having them written down. Experience has brought us to this point. What you really need to do is discuss this planning with your loved ones. Discussing this will speed up your loved ones OODA Loops when you are not there.