The Sheepdog Coalition

Advertise with us! For opportunities email our Admin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Philosophy - OODA - Orient

The second step in our quest to take decisive action in a threatening situation is dubbed the 'orient' phase. Really, it's more an ongoing mindfulness of everything happening than it is one specific guideline or exercise. Often times, our brains will naturally bounce back and forth between the observation phase and the orient phase before fully deciding on an action. This is a natural reaction and can also be practiced fully in small-scale scenarios, even line, by line, writing down what you're seeing and feeling in a role-play exercise.

That's really how I see this second part, as it frames into this cycle. It's the 'feeling'. It's taking in the raw data from your observations and constructing the thoughts and processes that go along with your position. Your position will certainly dictate how this data is processed and will likely complicate your ability to swiftly decide on a course of action. In some situations however, your position will act to almost make the decision for you, or make you react much quicker than you would normally.

Let's take two scenarios to explore reactions as they pertain to position.

Scenario 1: You're sleeping. It's Wednesday night and your dog wakes you up. Barking at the top of his lungs. You slump your legs over the edge of the bed and exhale deeply. As you start out the bedroom door to see what the issue with your dog is, your brain snaps into alert. You smell smoke.

Here, you're sleeping. Your brain is likely not going to be firing on the level it would be while you're awake - at least, we hope. You know a couple things from the mild observations you've been able to make from the moment you woke up. In order; your dog is barking, you are not in any immediate danger, you are tired, you smell smoke. Taking in this information, in the few seconds it took to do so, you've evaluated your observations and made a decision - go see what's wrong with the dog. Until you smelled smoke, where your observation lead to another mix of possible outcomes - and that's where we left it.

It's in those split-second cognitive cycles that we are able to make informed decisions. Another aspect of our 'orient' phase is just that - informed decisions. We only know what we know. Your 'position' extends much beyond the situation you've found yourself in. It's how you grew up, what you've learned and where you are in your life. An old farmer likely won't know as much about media servers as he will the weather. That's your position.

Luckily, we're creatures capable of learning from others, our own mistakes and good education. It's what will separate those who survive and those who perish in an ugly scenario - our positions. You're fortunate to be able to learn about new things and new skills, take this time to do so. Learn about fixing, building, protecting, thinking. In order to make informed decisions on any topic, we must be sufficiently informed - obviously. So, inform yourself. Research. Anything and everything. Yes, that's a broad statement, it was meant to be. Life is broad.

Your position, in terms of scenario number one, will allow you to reflect on a couple things. Do you know what to do in the case of a fire? How would you ensure your family is safe? Who would you call? Where would you go?

Scenario 2: Damn! Forgot your keys upstairs. Running back down you glance at your watch. Running behind, again. Lock the door on your way out and turn to face the outside world. The furious shrieks on your left draw your attention away only momentarily from the cascade of well-equipped police officers moving quickly down your street. You knew that a big conference was being held downtown or something, you'd seen protesters down there yesterday. You search for the keys to your car on your clunky and souvenir-ridden keyring when...    " Get on the ground, NOW!"

There's a harsh reality that sets in when the unsuspecting public is confronted with a mass of ill-meaning people. That's the thing folks, we're all just people. There's no such thing as good or bad people - there's only people who make decisions. We all make decisions and we're all held accountable for them. For every action there is a reaction. Take Toronto G20 as an outstanding example. Downtown Toronto, ON - thousands of protesters hit the streets to take up action in favour of their causes. When the police moved in to take massive arrests - ethical or not, that's not the debate here - multiple people were taken in regardless of their intents.

When innocent people get caught up in situations, it's a different set of decisions to make. We are so caught up in what we 'are' that we forget we're so susceptible to outside forces. If a bullet strikes you in the chest, you will be propelled backwards. If a police officer tackles you, you will be face down in the dirt. Sometimes, there's nothing we can do but go with the flow - OODA is supposed to help us not be placed in those situations to begin with.

Sometimes, your position will make your decisions very swift. Almost automatic. If you turn around to be rushed by a jacked-up police officer shouting 'get down!', you'll likely do very little to keep that from happening. It's what happens immediately after that event that really matters. If your body automatically commits to a decision regardless of your OODA process, your next action needs to be processed. Ovbiously, it's difficult to really 'observe' in a heated situation, but that's when it matters.

You know that in all likelihood, a police officer is not trying to harm you. Though you know this, you also feel his partner's boot against your back. You know that there are protests going on in your city. You can see and hear the commotion around you. You can feel your heart racing. You need to take this information and use it.

Our position is an amalgamation of our past, our present and our perceived future. We'll fall back on things we innately know and things we've learned. We'll take in what's happening in front of our faces (observation), and we'll implant what we think will happen - all in a matter of seconds. Our opportunity to orient ourselves to a situation is a chance to process raw data taken in from observation and think about our position.

For further reading on this topic - most likely the most important of the entire OODA loop, please refer below.

Self-Awareness: Who am I? What am I capable of?
Situational Awareness: What's going on around me?
Threat Assessment: Who's a target?

No comments:

Post a Comment