The OODA Loop concept has been adopted in strategic business management and even political campaigning. The OODA Loop looks simple, but it has an underlying sophistication that makes it powerful.
In the first part, Observe, a person (or entity) takes stock of the immediate environment and stimulus. After observing the environment and stimulus, the person then orients their self so they can decide (third step) and take action (fourth step). An OODA Loop can be completed in seconds or take months, depending on the situation.
In my forthcoming book, I use the OODA Loop to help the job seeker understand the rapidly-evolving career environment and determine how to orient their self to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Effectively performing the first two steps will help the job seeker make good decisions and take powerful actions to thrive in the new world of work.
When I met my friend for lunch, I could
tell she was upset. She had started a new job over a year ago, and everything
was going well. Many happy emails about her great work projects and the way her
boss kept praising her work. Recently, the emails stopped. Then, a short email
asking if I could meet for lunch.
I told her my job was going well and
about the exciting projects I was working. She sighed and said that she had
worked on some great projects but, was suddenly taken off all the projects. She
was now relegated to tedious administrative tasks while her boss continually
criticized her about her performance. Her boss used to love my friend’s work
but, for the last six months, my friend couldn’t seem to do anything right.
I think I knew what was going on, but, I
wanted to check further. So, I asked my friend if:
1. She suddenly had limited access to
2. Her boss stopped praising her in
front of co-workers.
3. Her boss doesn’t respect her opinion anymore.
4. Any communications to higher-ups
needed to go through her boss.
5. She was told by her boss not to speak
at public events or people in other departments.
6. Her boss no longer talks about
7. Other managers seem to shun her.
My friend was amazed at how I knew all this
was happening. I couldn’t claim credit because I had read about these signs
from a 2017
Forbes article by Liz Ryan. Ms. Ryan wrote about how some bosses can become
“spooked by a too-competent or too-confident subordinate for almost any reason
— and once that happens, they will try to make your life miserable!”
Ms. Ryan explains that it takes little for
a boss to become jealous of a successful subordinate. Just one successful
presentation to senior management or success with a highly visible project is
enough to scare your immediate supervisor.
“What do I do?” asked my friend.
Unfortunately, Ms. Ryan advises a
stealth job search. Once your boss sees you as a threat, it will be impossible
to convince him or her you are not. Staying will only damage your morale and
your reputation for excellence.
While you are job searching, make sure
that you are doing your best at even the most menial tasks assigned to you. Also,
try to find objective evaluations of your work, such as customer reviews and
sympathetic co-workers that you trust. Another way of keeping your morale up is
to be active in professional associations and volunteer work. What you are trying to do
is minimize any impact your boss’s opinion will have on you and any
“So, what do I say when they asked me
why I left my previous job?”
Tell the truth; you wanted opportunities
to develop yourself. Emphasize the accomplishments from your previous job and how
these accomplishments encouraged to you grow your skills and abilities. Talk
about how you used your work with the professional organization and volunteer
groups to prepare you for your next move.
Above all: do not criticize your
former boss. True that your former boss mistreated you by being jealous,
but that is his or her problem and not yours. If you want to think about this
way, your old boss was paying you a compliment by being jealous. A strange
compliment but, think positive.
As I told my friend, it is not fair that being good at your job can lead to jealousy by
your boss. However, this may be a lucky break for you because you will most
likely find a better job. And a better boss who appreciates you and your
A PROPOSAL TO HELP EDUCATION IN RURAL POPULATION AREAS BY SOLVING THE ADJUNCT FACULTY CRISIS
Several of the Democratic Presidential candidates are
advocating some variation of free college. Either paying for the first year of
college or tuition-free attendance at the local community college, the idea is
to make college affordable for low-income families. Sounds like an effective
solution to helping rural populations gain the skills to compete in the coming
Fourth Industrial Age economy.
Free college is not the best answer. Opposing free college
may sound strange from someone with a Ph.D., three master’s degrees, and who
has taught college courses for nearly twenty years. But, it is my experiences
as both a college student and professor that led me to think of another
The Problems with the Free College Solution:
1. A traditional college education will take too much time –
A fulltime student will need at least two years to obtain an associate degree
and four years for a bachelor’s degree. There are part-time options, but that
will only extend the length of time needed for
the degree. Students – especially adult students – will need to sacrifice years
of prime earning opportunities until they are skilled for the workplace.
2. Students must leave their communities to attend college –
Community colleges are probably more available to low-income students than
state universities and colleges. For many rural areas, there are “education
deserts” in which students will need to commute to their classes.
There are online options, but this depends on the availability
of broadband. In many rural areas, the broadband Internet may not be available.
The lack of broadband Internet also exacerbates the education deserts problem.
3. Universities are not designed to train people for
workplace skills they need now – Community colleges and trade schools are the
best equipped to teach students technical skills. Universities and colleges
specialize in liberal arts education. A liberal arts education is valuable for
teaching critical thinking skills and preparing students for leading people and
organizations. However, a liberal arts education takes longer to acquire than most
Your typical college professor is rewarded by his or her research productivity. Tenured professors are rewarded for the number of research articles published, and research grants acquired. Teaching is not as valued and even discouraged if teaching interferes with the professor’s research output.
“To be a perennial adjunct professor is to hear the constant
tone of higher education’s death knell. The story is well known—the long hours,
the heavy workload, the insufficient pay—as academia relies on adjunct
professors, non-tenured faculty members, who are often paid pennies on the
dollar to do the same work required of their tenured colleagues.”
It was after reading this article and reflecting on my own
experiences as an adjunct faculty member I came up with the following proposal.
I am still working out the details, so what follows are broad sketches of my
The Community Learning Coaches (CLC) Proposal
1. Determine which rural communities need help in reskilling
the population for new jobs. The new skills can be how to run an additive manufacturing
business, a vertical farm, a renewable energy plant, or similar Industry
2. Create a training center with state-of-the-art
classrooms, satellite Internet broadband, and an Internet café. These centers
will be in targeted rural communities for easy access by the population.
3. From among the adjunct faculty population, hire “community
learning coaches” to live in the towns and run the training centers. The CLCs
will determine the educational needs of the local people, create courses,
deliver training, and coach students into self-learning experiences. The CLCs
will be given room and board along with a decent wage as they work to help the
local population increase their opportunities in the new economy.
4. The CLCs will be trained in the latest training techniques
to help the local students rapidly improve their knowledge, skills, and
abilities. The CLCs will be supported by a national network of educational
experts linked through online communities.
My proposal solves several problems at once — first, CLCs
help to prepare rural communities to thrive in the new Industry 4.0 economy.
Second, CLCs help to alleviate the issues that adjuncts face in the current university teaching situations. Third,
universities and colleges can continue to concentrate on their primary mission
of research. Diverting the money that would have paid expensive college tuitions
to build community training centers staffed by CLCs seems to be a better use of
federal tax funds.
The U.S. Congress’ Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has created the United States Legislative Markup (USLM) to standardize the format for drafting, viewing, and publishing legislation.
Importantly, this standardization means that rule of law nations can help each other far more effectively. It means that –at long last– democratic values might be able to beat the trolls, out compete data mercenaries and diminish the information weaponization that is paralyzing democracy worldwide. This global democratic resilience will be especially important when we arrive at machine learning, artificial intelligence and algorithms. Will we build an auditable public good system? One that can visualize and help forecast implications of policy? One that is able to identify misinformation and financial conflicts of interest in the data supply chain? Or, will this new openness become yet another opportunity to commodify, privatize and capture democratic functions?
In my recent column for the PA Times, I wrote about how federal agencies can use the latest data visualization tools to fulfill the data, accountability, and transparency initiatives of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).
From the PMA: “Data, accountability, and transparency initiatives must provide the tools to deliver visibly better results to the public while improving accountability to taxpayers for sound fiscal stewardship and mission results.”
To aid in implementing the PMA, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched a challenge to stand up the Government Effectiveness Advanced Research (GEAR) Center. “Today’s digital economy has transformed how citizens interact with government. By leveraging technology and innovation, the GEAR Center will ensure our government connects to cutting-edge thinking and real-world solutions,” stated OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert.
Back when I worked at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), I had the idea of using the internal data assets of federal agencies to create digital twins of the agencies. The advantage of a digital twin is that we could test out policies on the twin before implementing the policy on the actual agency.
To get to digital twin stage, agencies first need to build their capacity to visualize data flows in their organization. According to Phil Simon, author of The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions, organizations go through four-levels of data visualizations. The first level is creating static visualizations of the organization’s small data sets. The organization then moves to the second level of creating interactive visualizations of small data sets. The third level is creating static visualizations of big data sets. The final and fourth level is creating interactions for the big data set visualizations.
Phil Simon recommends that organizations begin with small data sets to sharpen their skills with data visualization planning and tools. I’ve seen examples of this when several federal agencies used Tableau (a proprietary data visualization tool) to work with their small data sets from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS). The FEVS is a survey of federal employees to gauge their perceptions on their leadership, engagement in their work, and their work climate. The ability to program interactivity into the FEVS data produced insights into the data that would not have been apparent in the static visualizations.
The FEVS is a relatively small data set compared to the big data sets that federal agencies possess. However, the tools for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing big data have advanced significantly in the last decade. Most of the modern tools require little training to produce sophisticated visualizations. As the federal agencies move to the cloud, it becomes easier to connect different data sets to build more comprehensive big data sets with novel visualizations. The more data sets connected and visualized, the more transparent the agency’s data assets and flows.