Using The OODA Loop In Workplace Investigations

As professionals conducting workplace investigations, we should always be on the lookout for ways that can help us to simplify the process of conducting a workplace investigation.

One of the things that I have found to be of benefit, is using the OODA Loop.

Hopefully, after reading this, you may want to use it too.

What Is It?

The OODA Loop was created by former United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.

It stands for Observe – Orient – Decide – Act

According to Wikipedia, the OODA loop has become an important concept in litigation, business, law enforcement, and military strategy.

While the image above indicates that the OODA Loop is a simple four step process, the more we look at it, the more we see that it isn’t.

How Do You Use It?

Once you understand how the OODA Loop works, you can easily apply it to workplace investigations.

For example, lets say that you are in a investigation meeting with someone. You could use the OODA Loop, in the following way.


As a workplace investigator, you would be observing things like body language, presentation, language used, and demeanor.

If, for example,  someone is a little bit fidgety and cagey about answering a question, you would then…


Form an idea as to whether the person is hiding something, telling a lie, or simply nervous.

This would come from being aware of their mannerisms, your own experience in similar situations.

From there you would…


Give the person the benefit of the doubt, that they may actually be nervous.

You would make the decision to do something to “test” that view.


From there, you would offer them something to calm their nerves. (This could be a glass of water, a short break, anything really).

You would then start back at Observe again and see if what you previously thought was right.

It is A Continual Process

Using the OODA Loop isn’t a set and forget process.

It is one that needs to be constantly repeated.

And at times restarted.

It is something that should be used for every new bit of information that is received.

I have found that using the OODA Loop as part of the process for conducting a workplace investigation, that it things easier to follow, and less daunting for the inexperienced.

Yes, there is more to the OODA Loop than this piece, though going into it in greater detail is beyond the scope of this post.

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