Monday, 30 September 2013

Managing Information - Speeding Up Your OODA Loop

Alan Elwood
Risk and Resilience Ltd

In my last post I talked about the need to manage the process by which crisis decisions are taken and talked about the OODA Loop (read Decision Making Under Pressure – The OODA Loop). In this post I’m going to present some concepts around how you can speed up the time it takes you to complete the OODA Loop. If you can get your decision making processes to happen at a greater speed than that at which the crisis is unfolding then your decisions stand to be more effective. On top of that, making a larger number of quicker decisions, each one correcting the errors of the previous one, is likely to help you reach an optimum solution faster than if you wait for total clarity and try to take one right decision. So what to do?

CRIP: Establish and maintain a full understanding of the situation. This is sometimes referred to as the Common Recognised Information Picture (CRIP). It is built up of all available validated information. It is not a chronological list but a contextualised picture that can inform decisions. Date/time stamp it and keep it up to date, even when the decision makers are not meetings. Use information pull (gathering information in) and information push (people and organisations knowing instinctively to forward information) to achieve this.

Strategic Aims: Make sure the Crisis Management Team establish the strategic aims for the crisis early on. They may even be drafted in a plan for confirmation or adjustment on the day. These won’t change very often but they set the tone for the response, driving information management and response. If the top aim is ‘safety and staff welfare’ this will determine that things progress differently for any given situation than if it is say ‘corporate client entertainment events’. Sounds obvious and simple, but it is often overlooked.

Key Issues: Identify the key issues of the moment and when decisions have to be made by. Remember that people need time to carry out the actions that result from the decisions, so you have less time than you think. Key issues are those that arrive from looking at the CRIP through the lens of the strategic aims. They require management as they reflect the priorities that have been set. Use talented managers to select key issues and identify options prior to the CMT meeting up.

Manage Actions: Decisions need actions to make them a reality. Taking a decision is not the same as things happening. Have a process, team and resources to break decisions down into actions, allocate those actions and monitor performance. Update the CMT on progress so that they can adjust decisions accordingly.

In my final post in this series I will be looking at the reality of translating decisions into actions and all that this entails.

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