Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The OODA Loop in Mission Alignment Activities

Mission Alignment Activities Mapped to the OODA Loop
Col. John Boyd defined the OODA loop as the abstract decision-making process pattern for all types of decisions.  The OODA loop process pattern has four activities (as they apply to Mission Alignment).
  1. Observe-- is measuring the effectiveness of the "as-is" in achieving the mission of the individual or organization.  This includes identifying and measuring the response of other organizations within the organization's competitive and synergistic economic ecological environment.  These response measurements are currently call "intelligence" while the measuring of the organization's processes in terms of if and how well they are enabling and supporting the organization's vision and mission fall within the purview of Business Activity Monitoring and Management (BAMM).
  2. Orient--is analyzing the data from the observations to determine which processes and tools are enabling and supporting the organization's vision and mission, and how well each is performing or supporting the vision and mission.  Orienting requires a framework.  In Col. Boyd's conception, it is the cultural architecture.  For the Enterprise Architect it should be an Asset and Enterprise Architecture Repository, like a repository based on the FEAF (all five layers).  Additionally, it requires good enterprise architecture modeling for both the "as-is" functional design, and candidate "to-be" functional designs.  Based on the modeling, the Enterprise Architect will recommend where to invest.  Depending on the condition and culture of the organization, it may be the "low hanging fruit", the "hard problems", or the investments that will produce the most agility (see my posts What is Agility? and Lean or Agile Enterprises and Architecture) or increase production capability (see my posts on Process Effectiveness versus Finance Engineering and Infrastructure: A Mission of Government and Organizational Control).
  3. Decide--is a single act of determining where to invest.  It should be made of the CEO or leadership team (not leadership/management team) of the organization.  Obviously, with better information and knowledge (see my post The Hierarchy of Knowledge and Wisdom for the definitions), the decision-makers will increase their ability to invest in driving the organization forward toward its vision and mission.
  4. Act--is the execution of the planned investments.  This is the purview of the Systems Engineer, the System Architect, and the program manager, where the transformation of the processes and tooling takes place.  Once it has taken place, the Enterprise Architect begins activity 1, Observing.  The Enterprise Architect observes how well the results of the investment(s) meets the prediction of the architectural models, whether the metrics should be changed (they are not really measuring the Value On Investment VOI), the architectural model is incorrect or incomplete, the parameters (assumed or identified) are incorrect, or policies and standards militate against the change, so as to match the measured results. 
The Key Issues with the OODA Loop Pattern and Mission Alignment
The Enterprise Architect will face three technical issues with using the OODA loop pattern.  All of these are implementation issues, not abstract or functional/design issues.
  1. Determining the correct Benefits Metrics is a key issue.  The Balanced Scorecard approach is one widely understood method for determining this.  As I see it, the issues with the Balanced Scorecard approach is that the metrics are independent of the Enterprise Architecture and  that there is no linkage to the organization's vision, mission, or strategies required.  Again, as I see it, these are requirements for good metrics.
  2. Determining the architectural model of the organization and its operational environment.  A current example is the new EPA regulations.  It is reported that the EPA (a policy management, but not governance function) has decided on its own hook to create another whole series of regulations on carbon emissions.  Within the EPA's domain, this will "solve" many carbon emissions problems, part of the EPA's mission, while increases the cost of coal so that alternative energy becomes more competitive (another part of its mission, as the leaders of the EPA see it).  However, the EPA's model, apparently, does not include the economic environment, where there are significant negative externalities.  Among the reported negative externalities are a $23 Billion cost for enforcement imposed on state and local government, already near the point of financial collapse due to the economic down-turn, and in part, to many other unfunded congressional mandates.  Since the cost of coal is higher, other countries will buy less of it, increasing the already near catastrophic US balance of payments problem.  At the same time, many businesses and corporations will need to spend money on meeting the regulations, rather than on creating new jobs.  So, even it they are well intentioned, the regulations conflict with the current administration's ability to meet one of its key missions, getting the economy restarted.
  3. Implementing the Asset and Enterprise Architecture Repository (AEAR).  I have already outline how this would work in my post, Creating the Enterprise Architecture Process and AEAR.  Without it, there is no base for modeling the architecture or deciding on what metrics really measure the optimality of processes and tools in meeting the organization's vision and mission.  Only the AEAR can provide the data framework necessary for the Observe and Orient activiites of the OODA Loop--the key actitivities enabling the Enterprise Architect to provide value to the organization.

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