Making Decisions vs. Thinking About Making Decisions

Making Decisions vs. Thinking About Making Decisions

As we head into the end of 2018 and prepare for 2019 (what a year lies ahead of us!), one resounding theme that continues to arise in my conversations with clients and future clients is decision making.  Or not making them at all.  Let me explain.

Over and over again, over the course of 2018, I have had many discussions about future decisions that business owners know they need to make, but they avoid doing so.  Some out of fear, some out of worry of making the wrong decision, and some purely out of avoidance of success (what will happen if this actually goes well?).

There are many decision-making models available, some simple and some complex.  But the one I truly find the easiest to explain and use is OODA loop.  OODA is a fighter pilot decision making process designed by strategist and U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd.

OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.  I’ll keep this short and snappy, so you get the most out of this blog, but feel free to Google OODA and get a deeper understanding.

Many owners I’ve talked to actually avoid decisions, or if they do make them, don’t do well in making them!  They, like many of us, are emotional beings, that sometimes make decisions on the fly.  At times, this is perfectly fine, but with large decisions that have lasting impact, I believe they are skipping a few steps.  OODA helps this process.

Observe – Observe the situation as an un-interested third party, not just as an owner or business leader.  What do you see?  What do others see that you don’t.  Get the lay of the land and understand your overall strategy (that assumes you have an overall strategy!).

Orient – This step gets skipped a lot.  But it’s really an evaluation of what is required to make the decision successful.  Are the hurdles too high or the costs out of whack to reality?  I can see a future move in my business as an opportunity, but if it costs me my current clients, that may not be worth the risk and move to another option.

Decide – Maybe the most obvious part of the process…but decide and document the decision.  What is the scope of the decision, who does it impact and what is now required to make it happen?

Act – While it may seem obvious, this step gets skipped as well by many.  Now you’ve made the decision, now you have to do what you decided to do!  Implement, follow-up, measure.  Did the outcomes desired occur?  Can you actually measure the outcomes?

Following this process for all your decisions, big or small, should provide you with some interesting results.  Why not try it out?  Some of the benefits seen by using this model are:


  • Speed – you will be making decisions faster than your competition
  • Comfort with Uncertainty – you will get more comfortable with uncertainty than your competition
  • Unpredictability – you will become unpredictable to your competition (maybe driving them nuts!)


Give it a try.  What can it hurt to try this out today in your business?  And remember, it’s a loop.  It never ends.  Use it today, tomorrow and to assess each decision you’ve already made.

Good luck and may the OODA be with you!

Guest Post by Bob Paden


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