Eight Essential Elements of Close-Knit Teams #7: Scaling Championship Adaptability with the OODA Loop
Our final two postings on the Essential Elements of winning teams are about championship adaptability and using ceremony to create a flywheel of sustainable energy for winning the right way.
In previous posts we have looked at a variety of factors that a leader can work with to help the team trust each other, go all out, use failure as a constraint to get better, and be all in. All of it connects to the hope of a championship victory which in most cases will not be handed to you, rather you will face a worthy adversary who be equally talented and similarly committed, and you will have to emerge victorious.
How do you avoid being what John Madden famously said about the NFL, which is there is one winner and everyone else is a loser and the team that lost the super bowl is the first loser. The words may sting but ask Marv Levy who coached the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls and lost them all. Ask anyone who was told they finished 2nd in the big RFP and you will get the same answer, you get to the championship to win it!
The massive distance between finishing first and second helps create the tension that makes for good theater. No one watches the NFL Pro-Bowl (it has recently been dissolved) because nobody cares about the outcome. Part of the intrigue in a tightly contested game is how the best act and react to each other as things unfold. Both the New England Patriots and the Golden State Warriors are famous for their half time adjustments and 3rd quarter success.
In previous posts we have looked at how John Wooden would not stalk the sidelines of the game as he needed his players to be adapting and didn’t want to distract them. Basketball is a great example of adaptability because the ball is in play the moment it is scored and put back onto the court. Jay Bilas in his book Toughness outlined the “next play” mentality that Mike K installed at Duke which starts with the mental ability to get over the loss of the basket on defense and the opportunity to gain a basket on the other end.
Sport can give us some good examples but inside the military there is a clean framework that is highly transferable and trainable which is what the leader is seeking.
Airforce Colonel John Boyd was a world class fighter pilot and changed how our war planes were built in this country. Colonel Boyd also left behind a decision-making framework that is the standard for our military and can be of real use to leaders who are looking to empower their teams with a way to build out championship adaptability.
The OODA loop stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act and is born out of air-to-air combat training that earned Colonel Boyd the nickname (40 Second Boyd) because he would allow his combatant an advantage position on him and within 40 seconds would be able to kill them.
Observe what is causing your discomfort of pain, measure the size and scope and do not hedge the size or seriousness of its power.
Orient yourself and your assets to the enemy. How can you adapt given what you have currently within reach?
Decide on action to take.
Act on that decision.
Reflect and run the loop again.
Much of the OODA loop training in the military is how to run the loop faster than your enemy, to get inside their OODA loop. Today's climate is perfect for taking that same point of view. Consider running a daily OODA loop for yourself, and family. Run a daily OODA loop for your work team. These simple questions will allow you to get to the brutal truth as quickly as possible which will allow you to adapt.
Hopefully you can take this framework and customize it for your situation. Who is your competition? Where are they strong? How are you positioned relative to them in the marketplace? Which factors does a potential customer need to prioritize to pick your offering over others? How can you position the questions that are asked to highlight the factors that help you win?
Whether it is in sport or work you can overlay the OODA loop framework and start to train your team to either take physical or verbal action. As you run this loop you are increasing your team’s chances of victory and getting everyone ready to adapt in the biggest moments.
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