Key Marketing Concepts from Korean War

From Wikpedia: Boyd’s key concept was that of the decision cycle or OODA Loop, the process by which an entity (either an individual or an organization) reacts to an event. According to this idea, the key to victory is to be able to create situations wherein one can make appropriate decisions more quickly than one’s opponent. The construct was originally a theory of achieving success in air-to-air combat, developed out of Boyd’s Energy-Maneuverability theory and his observations on air combat between MiGs and F-86s in Korea. Harry Hillaker (chief designer of the F-16) said of the OODA theory, “Time is the dominant parameter. The pilot who goes through the OODA cycle in the shortest time prevails because his opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed.”

Boyd hypothesized that all intelligent organisms and organizations undergo a continuous cycle of interaction with their environment. Boyd breaks this cycle down to four interrelated and overlapping processes through which one cycles continuously:

  • Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one’s current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing-out of decisions

Of course, while this is taking place, the situation may be changing. It is sometimes necessary to cancel a planned action in order to meet the changes.

This decision cycle is thus known as the OODA loop. Boyd emphasized that this decision cycle is the central mechanism enabling adaptation (apart from natural selection) and is therefore critical to survival.

Boyd's Loop

I first ran across the material in the writings of Eric Ries of Startup Lessons Learned. Eric is the creator of the “Lean Startup” methodology and “The New Entrepreneurship”. His conference The Startup Lessons Learned Conference on April 23 is fast approaching. He has a new website up at and several scholarship programs up and running.

These concepts have influenced my thinking of marketing the past few months so dramatically that I had to sit back and re-evaluate many of my own processes I had in place. Next week, I will release the 1st draft of my new E-book: “Still Looking at Marketing with an Old Set of Tools?” In the E-book, I derived a Value Stream Marketing concept from a combination of Boyd’s OODA Loop and Eric’s Lean Start-up Development loop. Below is a diagram of the Lean Product Development Cycle devised by Eric.

Ries PD Lean StartIs anyone else looking at Marketing in cycles such as this?  Are there similar Agile Marketing Concepts?
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