by Vijay Ramachandran

From the Editor-in-Chief: Loop It On

Jun 19, 20142 mins
BusinessGreen ITIT Leadership

Instead of trying to create order, wouldn't it make more sense to harness the chaos?

One of the most quintessentially human of traits is to attempt to give meaning to life. To try and draw out its bounds, and flesh out its details with the brushstrokes of our mind—that’s what keeps us human, and sane. It amuses me no end though, when ‘experts’ coin terms to describe how today’s world is oh-so-different from before. Take VUCA (volatile; uncertain; complex; ambiguous). Can’t figure out how to outdo competiton? Grappling with attrition? Going round the bend as margins get squeezed? VUCA explains it all. But does it? When was the external reality any different? VUCA itself was first coined in the 1990s! Life is about chaos and disorder, however much we try and give it order and meaning.  Here’s a thought—instead of trying to create order, wouldn’t it make more sense to harness the chaos? Instead of creating disruption, how about disrupting the disruptor? For a hundred years now, fighter pilots have inhabited this world, specially when taking on an enemy aircraft in a dogfight that requires quick thinking, rapid response and cool nerves. That’s the world John R. Boyd made his very own. The US Air Force veteran could win  in 40 seconds or less, even when flying an inferior  aircraft. Boyd structured his success at disruption into the OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act—a strategy that has directed the training of US Air Force piots since the 1950s.  At one level, the loop simplifies how humans make decisions, at another, however, it contains the blueprint for building competitive advantage. In a business environment: Observation is about gathering data on what’s really going on in your company and externally. Monitor the critical pieces and dump the rest. Orientation involves putting human intelligence and past experiences to give correct context to key external indicators and make predictions. Decision-making is clearly about using the data and its context to consistently make better and faster decisions at lower cost. Action refers to triggering activities that follow. True business success goes beyond spotting a trend early. It requires you to outmaneuver your rivals, sow confusion in their minds, figure out the landscape, and attack. Agility wins in war and business.  Loop. Fast. Now.