Adapting to Lead Change in Businesses – The Military Way


The change management cycle is congruent to what Colonel John Boyd articulated in military parlance of decision cycle or the OODA loop. Observe-Orient-Decide and Act. It is the complete range of activities which a business leader has to undertake in today’s competitive business environment to stay ahead of the change.

The OODA Loop

Fun and Balance

Once again this reinforces the role of the leader as theconductor of the organsiational orchestra.

The Maneuverist Leaders

In war fighting philosophies, as in businesses, there is this penultimate philosophy termed “maneuvre warfare” as against “attrition warfare”. The major difference between the two philosophies is the approach to warfare in their application of “force on force” approach as compared to the maneuver or the mental faculties approach. The aim of maneuver warfare is to avoid enemy strength’s and attack his weaknesses by generating faster OODA cycles. This often repeated and continuous application & generation of OODA cycles facilitate, leaders to outsmart and finally paralyse the minds of opposite numbers and forces – leading them to despair and ultimate defeat.

As against this the attrition or the force on force approach is bloody, intense slog and results in victory at great costs in men and resources.

In business strategies too we often find direct “attritionist” approach being played out too often at the detriment of the larger aim of the organization. This translates into huge costs to achieve business objectives.

On the other hand smart leaders follow the maneuverist approach to outsmart the competition by playing on their weaknesses and steering clear of their strengths. In this approach the leaders carry out intelligence preparation of the business environment and produce ‘Blue Ocean Strategies’ by a systematic approach through generation of unambiguous and faster OODA cycles. Adynamic SWOT analysis and adoption of six sigma principles to refine the processes, people and tools remains an integral part of this philosophy.

Systems Approach to Life

Thereafter, the leaders and the teams take to”systems approach” to handling their organisational aims and objectives. It entails identifying the terminal objectives for each organsiational need and systematically approaching the problem at hand be it production, marketing or training to evolve suitable “enabling” and “learning” objectives to derive the correct course of action or approach to evolving business strategies, training plans or almost any conceivable business or life activity.


Today’s business leaders have to be armed with necessary tools of business leadership to survive and excel. The maneuver theories developed and refined overtime apply equally to leaders in any environment. Developing clairvoyance and the art of leading businesses successively by remaining one step or moving ahead of the change are critical to success in businesses as they are to any situation in wars.

In both the one quick on his feet wins.

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