Colonel John Boyd was one of the best fighter pilots on the planet who risked his life every time he jumped into the cockpit. But thanks to his OODA loop strategy, high-velocity chases, death-defying rolls, and last-gasp pivots were no longer uncomfortable. Almost 70 years after the Korean War ended, his aerial battle strategy is one of the most popular business decision-making frameworks in the world, used by many fast-growing companies to guide their blitzscaling tactics. So, what does the military philosophy of a 1950s dogfighter have to do with the needs of fast-scaling startups today? Let’s consider the four stages of the OODA loop: Observe: Decision-makers must study their environment, identify changes at the micro or macro level, and determine whether a response is required. Orient: With their observations at hand, decision-makers must position themselves to protect against threats or take advantage of opportunities. Decide: Decision-makers must confirm if they are going to respond to the changing environment. While quick decision-making is encouraged, you should avoid acting out of any sense of obligation. Sometimes, the best course of action is to do nothing. Act: Once decision-makers have made up their minds, they should act quickly. Blitzscaling businesses can apply the tenets of the OODA loop to assess their current environment quickly, prepare for likely scenarios, make quick decisions and take action. This strategy is an iterative process that encourages rapid decision-making and consistent optimization, as decision-makers will return to the observation stage to assess the results before repeating the process.
Final Thoughts Whether it’s boxing, wrestling, or blitzscaling, real growth only happens when you consistently put yourself in uncomfortable situations. It’s only through practice that you can develop the situational awareness you need to adapt to changes. When you're trying to move through the levels rapidly, things may seem chaotic without any clear or coherent plan. Whether 3 hours doing situps and punching things or it's grueling rounds at the gym, or endless dark mornings trudging through the snow with a bicycle heavy laden with newspapers, you can easily lose sight of your goals.
Taking a proactive approach to practice and applying Boyd's strategy of an iterative loop will give you some direction. You can continually observe your ever-evolving environment, aggressively solve problems, and make changes on the fly. In short, you must embrace the chaos, harness your most elite inner just like a fighter pilot. I love to talk about fighting and blitzscaling. If anyone is interested, please do reach out. My work email is firstname.lastname@example.org, my calendly is calendly.com/thomas-mcgonagle and my cellphone is 339-203-3816. You can call anytime.