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Moral and Mental Dimensions are Just as Important as the Physical

“Decisions without actions are pointless. Actions without decisions are reckless.”

John Boyd

“You gotta challenge all assumptions. If you don’t, what is doctrine on day one becomes dogma forever after.”

John Boyd


I often cite John Boyd's OODA loop when explaining how the ACD tools work, for example - ACD Cycle, Transition State Planning, The Core Story, and VIPER.

The purpose of this post is to show how John Boyd's insights and the core attributes of the OODA loop relate to specific ACD tools. The ACD tools are listed at the end of each bullet point [tool name(s)].

For those of you not familiar with the OODA loop, I highly recommend Taylor Pearson's article The Ultimate Guide to the OODA Loop.


Col. John Boyd’s 5 Key Insights:

  1. Orientation, Orientation, Orientation – When you’re dealing with an uncertain domain, the orientation phase is both the most important and the most often neglected. If you feel uncertain, make sure you’re devoting more time and resources to orienting.

[ACD Cycle]

  1. Destruction, Creation and Snowmobiling – Successful orientation requires destroying your existing beliefs and creating new ones based on the constituent parts, a process Boyd called snowmobiling.

[ACD Cycle, VIPER]

  1. The Moral and Mental Dimensions are Just as Important as the PhysicalWe often focus too much on the physical dimension, like revenue, and undervalue the harder to measure moral and mental dimensions like culture. However, winning the moral and mental dimensions can let you overcome physically much larger competitors and challenges.

[VIPER, The Core Strory]

  1. Tempo: You Must Get Inside Your Adversary’s OODA LoopGetting inside your adversary’s OODA loop lets you take control of the situation and win. You get inside your adversary’s OODA loop by executing “fast transients,” WTF moments designed to make your adversary feel trapped in an unpredictable world of doubt, mistrust, confusion, disorder, fear, panic, and chaos.

[VIPER, The Core Story]

  1. Uncertainty and Opportunity are Linked – Individuals and Organizations exist and thrive as part of open systems. This openness generates opportunity but necessitates uncertainty. Using the OODA loop lets you effectively deal with uncertainty while seizing the opportunity.

[ACD Cycle, Transition State Planning]

The Core Attributes of the OODA Loop

  1. Einheit: Mutual Trust – In order for teams to effectively use the OODA loop, they must have mutual trust built on a base of shared values and combined with years of working on difficult challenges together.

[VIPER, The Core Story]

  1. Fingerspitzengefühl: Intuitive Skill – As you get more skilled in a certain domain, you can develop an intuitive skill that lets you move through the OODA loop more rapidly and more effectively get inside your adversary’s OODA loop.

[ACD Cycle, Transition State Planning]

  1. Schwerpunkt: Focus – Instead of insisting on a step-by-step plan, identify a focal point and adapt the means needed to get there.

[ACD Cycle, Transition State Planning, The Core Story]


A Transition State Plan: A series of ACD Cycles towards an ultimate goal. Each cycle follows a similar Observe, Orient, Decide and Act sequence.


Full Post By Taylor Pearson The Ultimate Guide to the OODA Loop

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