Threats begin as potential, with the capacity to develop into an undesired event in the future. The progression from potential threat to an active threat can be immediate (as in the case of me attempting to cross the street.) or develop over a period of time (like the Y2K scare.). The most effective measure we can apply to make the OODA Loop more advantageous for us is distance. This distance can be jumping from an out of control car’s path, or by putting security measures in place like cameras, an access control system or by simply locking the door when alone and closing up for the day, which delay and deny risks.


Observation takes in what is happening and what occupies the environment. Orientation is understanding what is happening and where in the environment. Decision on what to do follows the orientation phase and precedes what action to take once the decision to take action is made. When the threat is another person, an effective technique to reach the act phase before them is to reset the threat’s OODA Loop. This means to take an action that will distract or disorientate them back to the observation phase. This can be through using a calm voice and gentle words to bring someone from an agitated state, to pepper spraying an assailant in a poorly lit parking garage.


The OODA Loop is unavoidable process we all continuously use, many times unknowingly. By consciously applying this process to everyday situations it is engrained into muscle memory for circumstances when the process has to be cycled through instantly. A fire drill is widely practiced exercise that is highly unlikely to occur to a majority of people in the world. However, with mandated well-lit exits and resources in practically every building it is convenient to mentally perform an OODA Loop for a fire and other emergency scenarios that require an emergency egress. By simply being mindful when operating activating and deactivating security systems will create a muscle memory to operate the systems in stressful situations that require immediate and deliberate responses.