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Product Management as an OODA Loop

This one’s a bit half-baked, but is it useful to think of the product management lifecycle as a Boyd-style OODA loop?

Observe: Gather data about the product and market.

  • Is the market the same today as it was yesterday?
  • What are your competitors doing? Who are the unlikely market disruptors?
  • How will regulation or oversight change your market?
  • What’s trendy?
  • What economic trends might affect what you’re building?

Orient: Planning, inventing and re-inventing, market positioning, disrupting.

  • Is the same thing you’ve always done still effective or has your doctrine become dogmatic?
  • Are the mental models you’re using (still) the optimal ones? Is it time to switch strategies?

Decide:  Gather stakeholder feedback and, based on your orientation, make a decision.

  • At some point, observing and orienting can become bikeshedding, it’s time to make a decision–the whole point of the OODA loop is to make a decision before your competitor does.

Act: Building

  • Trust the process and move fast.

Under OODA loop theory every [product manager] observes the situation, orients himself . . . decides what to do and then does it. If his opponent can do this faster, however, his own actions become outdated and disconnected to the true situation, and his opponent’s advantage increases geometrically.

John Boyd

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