OutsideIn and the OODA Loop – Transforming Construction

OutsideIn and the OODA Loop – Transforming Construction 

In construction, who or what is the competition? You, of course, are always trying to win projects over other construction companies. However, in industries like construction, there is another enemy that must be considered. 

One of my favorite episodes of the iconic TV Series Mash, was when Colonel Potter ordered a Bug Out because the enemy was coming and Radar said “you mean Supply sir?”.  Pogo also reminds us, that we don’t always know who our real enemy is.  

Related: Achieving Interoperability in Construction 

Colonel Boyd, a fascinating military strategist and the father of modern dog fighting and one of the founders of the Top Gun school for the Air Force, developed a set of theories based upon time being the real enemy. He developed the proper decision cycle process for jet pilots to use for the then new F-16 fightersBoyd named this decision cycle an OODA loop, for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. 

Boyd’s concept for this decision cycleor OODA loop, is the process by which an entity (can be 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 where one can make appropriate decisions more quickly than one’s opponent.   

Why Time is the Real Competition 

Time is the dominant parameter and therefore time is the real enemy. Not the owner, the sub-contractor, the unions, the lawyersnor the weather. The pilot who goes through the OODA Loop cycle in the shortest amount of time prevailsbecause his opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed. Again, do not be confused, it is not your opponent of a competitive construction company that is the enemy, but again it is time, 

Boyd hypothesized that all intelligent organisms and organizations undergo a continuous cycle of interaction with their environment. He 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 

He laid out his theory in this OODA Loop Diagram. 

Boyd theorized that large organizations such as corporationsgovernments, or militaries possessed a hierarchy of OODA loops at tactical, grand-tactical (operational art), and strategic levels. In addition, he stated that most effective organizations have a highly decentralized chain of command that utilizes objective-driven orders, or directive control, rather than method-driven orders in order to harness the mental capacity and creative abilities of individual commanders at each level. 

OODA for Construction 

I would like to view two construction processes through Boyd’s OODA loop, one existing inside the other. The first is the process required to do Design Build effectively. That is an integrated process of design, estimate, build and measure. One seamless process, using the same data elements integrated to one another.  

The second is a means of progression in the terms of construction, but resets the OODA Loop as we put actual data back through the modelOn a daily basis we use mobile devices to track the actual labor hours, actual materials installed, and equipment hours used. This now can get compared to planned hours, the planned productivity of materials installed and the planned equipment hours used in estimating.  

So now, we have exposed two of the most important aspects of Boyd’s OODA Loop to construction industryThe first Design-Estimate-Build-Re-Estimate and secondarily, daily progression to that parent process. 

Vesta’s OutsideIn Vision 

Vesta has developed tools to not only integrate Design-Estimate-Build-Re-Estimate, but also mobile devices for the field to measure on a daily basis how we are performing to the plan.  

Our vision of OutsideIn, where field activities are fed into an OODA Loop of decision making based upon a foundation of Design-Estimate-Build-Re-Estimate is a transformational way to structure processes and technology for construction. 

We believe that when the construction industry sees who the real enemy is – Time. We utilize technology in an OutsideIn approach and also utilize the OODA Loop decision making they can then get inside their competition’s competitive loop and win. 

Next up: Read more on how OutsideIn drives value in construction. 

This post was written by Phillip Schell, Vesta VP of Global Business Development for Construction Engineering and Real Estate. 

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