What Boats, Tanks and Bicycles Teach You About OODA

What boats, tanks and bicycles teach you about OODA
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I wrote about the OODA Loop and how we can improve L&D by adopting a continuous cycle of Observe, Orient, Decide and Act to extract knowledge that already exists in the organization and make it constantly available to people. This is the opposite of the old way of teaching which required rote memorization of static facts.  

For this to work, it is worth inspecting the most important step in that loop a little closer – Orientation. The goal of the orientation phase is to find mismatches: errors in your previous judgement or in the judgement of others. It shapes the way we Observe, Decide and Act.  You have to understand two things to do this effectively:

  1. Your predisposition (genetics, cultural heritage etc.) and
  2. Your previous experiences.

You can then analyze and synthesize this with all the observations you made in the first step.

The orientation phase is where creativity and innovation happens. Highly creative and innovative people are looking at the same reality as everyone else, but they orient in a different way. How I see this applying to learning is in the process most suited to creative orientation: destruction and construction.

Learning and Development
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Imagine these three things:

  1. A speedboat towing a skier 
  2. A tank rolling across a field
  3. A bicycle cruising down a street

How could these be combined to create something new? 

One way to approach this problem is to deconstruct each of them into their constituent parts:

  1. Boat hull; outboard motor; tow rope; set of skis
  2. Tank with treads, gun, armor 
  3. Bicycle with wheels, gears and handlebars

Now, what if you took the motor and the skis from the boat, the treads from the tank and the handlebars from the bicycle?

You’d have a snowmobile! 

I’ve implemented this exact approach in the Design phase of our learning methodology at Curious Lion – we take all the data we’ve gathered in the Discovery (observation) phase, break it down deductively to first principles and then recombine those parts using the prior experiences of our team to create something new. This results in a fresh approach to teaching complex topics. This even helps unlock new areas of understanding as previous blind spots are revealed or new questions are presented that no one thought to ask before. 

So here is a challenge for you in your role – how can you strip away the complexity of your area of knowledge until there is nothing left but first principles? What are those first principles? And what can you create if you start fresh from there? 

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