The OODA Loop was a focus of a discussion in a past Business901 Podcast with Dr. Terry Barnhart. It offered some practical applications using the OODA Loop in and outside of rapid deployment. Dr. Barnhart has published a book that mentions the OODA Loop in it. The book is Creating a Lean R&D System: Lean Principles and Approaches for Pharmaceutical and Research-Based Organizations.
Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Approaches in Development
This was actually from a discussion after the podcast:
Terrance: A strategy for implementing Lean. Just think about the purpose of implementing Lean is to improve the company. Well, some people might be damaged by that, but you can’t control that. All you can control is how do I get this into the company the best way that it’s possible with the least amount of damage and the most amount of happiness.
Actually that’s the Boydian approach, because his whole point, and I didn’t mention this, but his whole point is that those, you remember I was telling you about those 30% of wars that are won by the smaller, presumably weaker opponent?
They’re much less damaging. Much less fall-out in the end than the ones that are just pounded out. So, you look at World War I, you look at World War II, you look at the Civil War in the United States, and then you look at the damage from the Gulf Wars. Very few killed in the Gulf Wars on either side, very few. We’re talking what, dozens in the case of the Allies?
Hundreds and thousands perhaps in the case of the Iraqis, but if we went at them as they did in World War I, there would have been hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. Which would you prefer, right? I mean, this is a very positive thing.
In any case, I just think it’s one of those unexplored areas. And I think really, really valuable with internal thoughts within a company, they think we spend an awful lot of time slugging it out. You’ve heard these same things. You’ve got to get the CEO to do your change implementation. The CEO has to do it. Then it’s a “pound it out” against the company’s culture. Well, what if we went with the company’s culture? Found the areas where we could infiltrate and do this, and let the people who aren’t interested collapse on their own.
Why did you assume that top management was the only way to do this? Why didn’t you try another way? I mean, that’s really how fast is your OODA?loop? Look, I started here, so I’m a management consultant. Well I was originally brought in as a management consultant within Pfizer, so I’ve been at McKinsey awhile, but I started with the Strategic Management Group as a strategy person. We went in with an all?day meeting with my client leadership team and they damn near threw us out physically. They were just not ready. It took me four years to get back in to have that same kind of discussion with them ? four years!
I stopped doing that same approach. I started working with people who were interested. People who were under pressure, People who, by god, didn’t know how they were going to deliver. We worked with them to solve their problems and you know what happened then. You talk about your social network; those guys go and tell other people, those guys tell other people, and pretty soon your phones are ringing off the hook.
Well, I didn’t do this on purpose. This is not the way I envisioned it, but, boy, it’s certainly better than I would have, it’s far better than had they actually thought it was a good idea and acquiesced. Because I would never have learned this and I would never have gotten nearly this far in this company. I mean, personally, in terms of Lean. Never would have gotten anywhere near the impact we’ve had. It’s amazing!
Joe: It is amazing. The typical excuse is always the buy-in of management.
Terrance: Right. Which begs the question? I think this is a very interesting point and I think this would be something Boyd would talk about as well. Ideas come from all over in an organization, in a community. The CEO cannot hold all of those ideas in their mind any more than we have the correct orientation. There is no correct orientation. It’s just ours and some parts that are more wrong than others, but we need to find those as fast as we can. Now, if you think that somehow the CEO is going to find Lean the best thing in the universe and then take that up as their cause, why would we imagine that. They’ve got other stuff on their plate too, right?
So if you think back about Boyd, Boyd started in the Air Force. The Air Force to this day hates him. Boyd, however, found other people along the way, and the military training doctrine of the Marine Corp is actually built on Boydian thought because he influenced those folks, and those folks were able to start talking to the right people and they did get the senior leadership on?board, the commandant of the Marine Corp.
Then it spreads out from there, then it spreads out from there, and now you and I are talking about it. The thing that’s really fascinating about that is, that’s not going at the top guy first, that’s going at wherever you can go.
The thing that Boyd did, I know he read the Dao and read Daoist stuff. But what they talk about in the Dao is really, the only thing you can change is yourself, and the only thing you can really change is your ideas. If you want to change the world, you change it by doing one step.
Anywhere that you change, will change the rest of the world a little bit. All you have to do is change it a little bit here, change it a little bit there and then suddenly you’ll find something that changes it non?linearly and you cannot predict what that might be.
So, let’s go back to Toyota. If you think about how Toyota started with Lean, you’ve got this guy, Ohno, in this machine shop and he’s doing these crazy other ways of doing business. Everyone else is thinking Ford, Ford and Ford. Suddenly Toyota gets in this really bad jam. They have to layoff: 15%, 20% of their employees. They have to bow before the banks and the Government just to stay alive.
Suddenly Ohno’s work prior just was crazy stuff, now is the way the company will be saved. Then suddenly you go from this small idea to something that is absorbed instantly through the rest of the company, the rest of the company just starts absorbing these ideas ding, ding, ding, because it suddenly is part of their success.
If you can find the cultural levers that are aligned with Lean that absorb ideas into your company, you won’t need to go force anything. It’ll pull it in whether you want it too or not. You won’t even be able to stop it.
That’s the kind of thing that we’ve been thinking about. How can we do this with people? How can we do this with divisions? How can we do this with entire companies? It’s fascinating because I think there are ways consistent with what Boyd taught. It’s not the same but, I think there are ways that companies can boot?strap the stuff. I don’t mean to say it’s a grass-roots or bottom-up, it’s a whatever it is that gets into their cultural system. It’ll absorb it very quickly and spread. How can we do that with Lean?
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