2 Things Professional Service Companies Can't Live Without

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1. Recruiting Pipeline

If you are like most consulting or professional service companies you probably have a mix of FTE consultants, heavily used contractors, and a variety of specialists with a niche skill set that you rely on to complete your projects.  When given a new project opportunity, you might think in your head, I got the perfect team for this, I just need to see who’s available. Sound familiar? While this process may work if you are only doing a few small projects, it will not fly as your company grows.  Eventually, you’ll need more staff with a different set of skills to continue to win more business.

This is why it’s crucial to keep a recruiting pipeline to track of all of the candidates you talk to. As you interact with them, you move them along from the initial contact all the way to being hired or maybe disqualified. Having a software solution is the most convenient place to track all these interactions, as well as related files such as resumes and bios. The different parts of your pipeline should be completely customizable, so the system will match your current recruiting workflow. Hence, why just doing this on a spreadsheet is not ideal.

Recruiting Pipeline

2. Skills Checklist 

Of course, now that you have a solid database to manage your recruiting efforts, you’ll need a skills checklist to complement your system. The skills checklist should be a completely customizable and organized list of skills and experiences where you can track every employee and candidate you talk to. The best use of this feature is to make it part of your recruiting process, and to continually update it as your employees/contractors gain new experience and skill sets. 

The value of any consulting and professional services company is not only the skills of who they employ, but also the skills of who they know. This information makes the firm a hub in their market space. Being able to put people in touch is powerful, whether that is a revenue source or not.  It is worthwhile to have skill profiles on every contractor you know, even if they are not a fit for your company, as they could potentially be a fit as a hire for one of your clients. 

Skills Checklist

If you are thinking to yourself, yes, I should be running my recruiting efforts as described above, then it’s probably time to check out how Bizinta’s solutions can do that for you.  The biggest advantage of doing this within Bizinta, is the integration. Once a person is hired and made active, their scheduling and timesheet access is automatically turned on. When they leave the company and are no longer active, their access is automatically revoked. You also have a complete record of their work history in one place. It’s organized, up to date and user friendly.  Which results in you focusing on winning more business rather than being bogged down in back end office processes. 

Time Sheets - Best Practices

One of the things I consider a ‘best practice’ is having a weekly time reporting requirement. Basically, the more often you report your time, the more up to date and accurate your reporting will be. The longer you wait, the less accurate the reporting becomes and in general the less billable time you will have. People tend to forget exactly how much time was spent working and will, by default, enter enough time to account for their billable work, but won’t remember those little 15 to 30 minutes tasks they completed on the side. Those omissions add up. If you are working by time and material, then weekly is the least often I recommend you record time. 

The next step up is daily recording. This isn’t such a clear win as it can get pretty oppressive depending on the type of work. I do it because I have found that it takes less time to put the time in at the end of each day than wait until the end of the week. By then, I have to reconstruct my day by looking at my calendar and email and that takes much longer. My recommendation is to encourage daily recording and require weekly reporting. 

Another counter-intuitive recommendation is to start your recording week on Saturday. This gives you a Saturday to Friday week - which is going to seem weird. Most people are used to starting their week on Sunday or even Monday, but Saturday is odd. But for time recording it just works better. The reason it works better is not obvious. 

For one thing, having the week end on a Friday means that time is due on a regular work day. If the due date is Saturday then people will put it off, get distracted during their weekend, forget, then maybe do it on Sunday, maybe not. Ideally, all the time is in on Monday so you can do approvals. When it isn’t, then that just delays everything. You want to give yourself as much lead time as possible to get that time sheet done. 

Another thing, Saturday time sheets makes people work their weekends in advance of the work week instead of at the end. This puts a stop to all sorts of shenanigans. If you want to take off early on Friday, you have to work extra the previous weekend and not just wave your hand and say you’ll work a little (maybe) over the weekend to make up for it. This also increases billable time, as the schedule stops a lot of games that some people might try otherwise. It also encourages people to expect to finish their work by Friday and to not work over the weekend. If they do work the weekend, it’s because they are looking ahead and being proactive as opposed to playing catch up and being reactive.

Reporting time weekly, and starting your time sheets on a Saturday might seem like minor adjustments, but this can have a large impact on your organization. It’s because while small, they affect everyone, every week. Small habits done consistently over long periods of time can amount to big changes. 

Getting the Most Out of Your Time Sheets

For most companies, time sheeting is a necessary evil. Nobody likes to do it, but you need to, so that you can bill. For these companies, the less time they have to think about time sheets, the better. In actuality, the time sheet is an incredibly powerful tool to manage your business. 


In order to utilize your time sheet capabilities, you need to take it seriously and recognize how important it actually is. 


The biggest part of taking it seriously is using a good time sheet application. There are a ton out there, but you need to take the time to find one that is easy to use and fits your business. Everyone in your organization is touching time sheets. It’s one of the few applications you have that everyone uses. If it’s not a good fit then it just weighs you down. It’s death by a thousand cuts. 


Just think, if everyone in your organization spent an extra 15 minutes a week struggling with a sub-optimal time sheet application. For a 50 person company, that is easily over $60,000 a year in lost billing. You don’t notice it because it’s spread out. You’re also annoying your staff and that chips away at morale and engagement. There’s an intangible cost there that’s even higher. 


Once you have a good time sheet app you need to use it with serious intent. The entries have to be timely and accurate. This usually means doing them more often than less. Weekly is what I recommend. This is infrequent enough that it’s not oppressive, but often enough that you get timely information, and more importantly, people can remember what they were doing. Forgetting is actually a big problem. Consulting companies find over and over that when they do time sheets, more often their billable time goes up. 


Entering time sheets weekly also establishes a cadence. Every Friday, everyone knows their time sheet is due. Every Monday, they know they need to do their approvals. There’s a lot of good in predictability - people are much more compliant. You could, for example, do time sheets semi-monthly (due on the 15th and then end of month). This is convenient for billing, but it means that the end of the time sheet period is falling on a different day every time. Which  results in wasted time, reminding people, and then chasing them down when they don’t submit their time sheet. 


Also, semi-monthly is more than a two week time span between periods so your data is not as fresh. The more often you put your time in the application, the more up to date your time sheet data will be. If you can get your people to update their time sheets daily then you will have data up to the day. If you are managing a project to a tight budget this can be a godsend. 


Investing in time tracking pays you back many times what you put in to it.  Here’s a great example of this - RoseRyan Inc., one of Bizinta’s original clients, had a time sheet app that was so called ‘good enough’. It didn’t really match their business, and it was difficult to use and error prone.  After a long time of advising them of the benefits a new system would bring, they finally made the plunge. Bizinta, wasn’t just better, it was transformative to their business. The time sheeting cost was chopped in half. The rank and file was happier, and more engaged with a key process. The managers were empowered because the time reporting became more timely and accurate, and a major impediment to growth was removed.

Basic Reporting You Need

There are a lot of consulting businesses that only know their business is going well because they can see the balance in their bank account going up. I am always surprised when I run into companies like this. You would think it is purely a small company problem, but I have seen companies with thousands of employees that have no idea which resources and/or customers are making that account go up. 

They might say to me, “As long as the bank account is going up, who cares how it got there?” And that does work to a degree. Congratulations really, because you are doing something right and are probably in a vertical that is highly profitable and low in competition. The problem is that any business that is highly profitable will attract competition sooner or later. If you don’t have a good handle on what’s going on, you are risking getting a competitor who does and they will run circles around you - potentially fatally. This is the essence of OODA, and I wrote a three part series about it located in the blog stack to the right or at https://www.bizinta.com/new-blog

What you need to know is three very basic things: Utilization, Profitability by Resource, and Profitability by Customer. Without this information you can not make intelligent data driven decisions to improve your business. 

Utilization is a measure of how much of your billable time actually gets billed. This is especially important for companies that have salaried consultants. You have to pay them whether they are working or ‘on the bench’. On the flip side, if your Utilization is too high, then you are working them too hard and may have issues with retention. This is a very basic measure that any business owner should be on top of, both on an individual basis and company wide.

Related to Utilization is Profitability by Consultant. Really what we are measuring is Revenue, Profit, and Margin for each consultant. I asked the management team of a customer of mine who their top 5 most profitable consultants were. Each manager came up with a list which was similar, but not the same as their peers. On average they all got about 3 out of 5 correct. What was especially interesting was that the #2 consultant was missed by the entire management team. She was a contractor, but she was killing it. It makes you ask yourself, how well do you know your business if you don’t know who your number #2 revenue generator is?


Similarly, you want to know who your good customers are and which ones are not so good. It’s a common pitfall for a company to spend the most time on their worst customers. Usually they are the noisy ones. Then you have your great customer who gets ignored. What ends up happening is that the good ones leave for neglect, and the bad ones leave because they will never be happy. Your efforts were in vain. What you should be doing is lavishing your attention on the best customers and kicking the bad ones to the curb. Well, all and good, but you need to know who they are. You need a report for that and you need to watch it because sometimes good customers go bad and bad ones get their act together. 

Business, when you boil it down, is all about allocating your limited resources in the best way to ensure short and long term profitability. Without the above reports you are just feeling around in the dark and opining on anecdotes. Everyone is going to a data analytic driver business decision-making model. The old way of the industry expert making decisions with their gut isn’t going to win against actual data. That worked to an extent when the data wasn’t available, but in this century you need to arm yourself or be left behind.

Second Wave of SaaS

The next wave of SaaS is upon us. The first wave was point solutions. This was a great thing. A company could solve its problems simply and easily by adding economical software that addressed the immediate need. With SaaS there was no server to buy and no complicated licensing, you could literally be using the software the same day. The problem with this approach didn’t become evident until later. 

The problem you get into with on the spot problem solving is integration. You end up with a lot of point solutions that don’t work well together. You see this in California - my home state. Cities grew quickly, and the planners didn’t keep up. Each fix made sense in isolation, but what worked for a small city didn’t work for a big one. The result is that you have to either accept that you can no longer grow or go back and start over at a much higher expense. Many companies find themselves in this situation with a raft of applications, spreadsheets, and cheat sheets. It’s not scalable and it’s not sustainable. If the one person who knows how all of these apps work together leaves, then what? 

The whole SaaS industry is headed toward integrated systems in this second wave. There are numerous advantages to this approach. Different software solutions will be  designed to work together in one integrated application. This leads to more efficiency and improved reporting that is housed all in one place. An opinionated system like Bizinta also brings ‘best practices’ with it. One of the worst things a small business can do is waste time reinventing the wheel on processes like billing that have been solved for a long time. Home grown solutions always end up causing a headache down the road.  Not to mention, an integrated system ends up being less expensive, as opposed to piecing together multiple software solutions.You win two ways. You get a more efficient and effective system. I like to say 4x: twice the effectiveness and twice the value. 

As a business executive, it pays to take a step back and pick a system that will fix things for a long time and not for the next couple months. Your future self will thank you! 

Are you prepared for the change that comes as your company grows?

When you company grows, it doesn’t just get bigger. It changes. There are ‘inflection points’ out there where what you did to get to where you are won’t get you to where you want to go. You have to fundamentally change how you run your business, or, as they say, your business will run you. More people naturally means more complexity. This phenomenon has been true since humans came out of trees and is based on the human brain’s limited capacity to manage relationships. 

When you start your company, maybe it’s just you, or you and a partner. The complexity of interactions is very low. You deal with yourself and your partner. You have one interaction. If you bring on another person you now have two potential interactions, but your partner also has two, and the new guy has two. You went from two interaction points to six. The complexity does not increase linearly. Of course with that many interactions you have that many more options, and the downside is that your brain can only handle so much of that. 

In a past life I was going to be a firefighter. One of the classes I took was about incident communication. In that class, I was taught that one person in charge of five other people was ideal ratio. This also jived with my military fire experience where the smallest unit was a fire team of 4-5 soldiers. This insight is why we made  the minimum license count for Bizinta at 5 seats. Less than that and you don’t need it. There just isn’t enough complexity to justify the investment into the business.. 

Companies will start adding systems some point between 5-10 people. Usually the motivation is all about keeping administrative costs down. You can solve your problem by hiring people to keep track of things for you or you can get systems to do it. We don’t think about that decision too much anymore because systems are so much cheaper it’s a ‘no-brainer’. You could always have an admin person manually input time sheet data from paper slips, but that is an order of magnitude more expensive, and slower, than a decent time sheet application. 

But here’s the catch: those systems also have interactions. For each labor saving system you add it can potentially interact with all the other systems. You’re making progress, but you’re also kicking the can down the road, because once you have more than 5 business systems (spreadsheets all the way to SaaS applications), now your IT complexity is growing non-linearly and getting to a point where you can’t keep track of it. This is a ‘gotcha’ that, unless you’ve been there before, you don’t see coming. This is where you might begin to feel like a juggler as you juggle multiple systems and a growing number of relationships. 

 

The balls begin to be fumbled typically when the company gets to around 40 people. The owner is getting overwhelmed and the organizational complexity is getting out of hand. One solution is to drastically increase your overhead. Another solution is to add more hierarchy to the organization - reducing the complexity by reorganizing things into manageable five-ish person chunks. Those are the industrial age solutions to this problem. 

The information age solution is to build a business network. When the systems are connected, accessible, and easily reported on, you end up with a flat, nimble organization that can make decisions and act on them quickly. Your overhead is minimized and the work people do is more value-add. There will be companies that embrace this new reality and others that will fall by the wayside - it’s inevitable. If you’re not looking ahead and thinking about how you will grow, you will end up stuck in a deep hole with no easy way out.

Bizinta mentioned in Accounting Today

RoseRyan, the company that Bizinta Inc. spun out of, just got recognized by Accounting Today as one of the country’s best firms for technology.

Here is what they said about Bizinta:

One of the firm’s recent highlights is the creation of Bizinta, a proprietary product grown out of an internal challenge. Years ago, RoseRyan wanted to move off spreadsheets and find a better solution for talent management. There was no product on the market within its price range that could manage and schedule staff in the field. RoseRyan’s first IT hire, Matt Lentzner, was able to create a solution, writing all its code, and it was adopted by the firm immediately. He is now CEO of Bizinta, a company created to market the product of the same name. 

We here at Bizinta would like to congratulate RoseRyan on this prestigious award. Without RoseRyan’s foresight and commitment to cutting edge tech we wouldn’t be here today!

The full article is here:

https://www.accountingtoday.com/list/the-2019-best-firms-for-technology

2018 in review and what’s planned for 2019

Hey everyone. Since we’re still in the early months of 2019 I want to look back at 2018 and let you in on what we have planned for 2019.

The theme for 2018 was production quality. We started the year with a beta version of Bizinta and ended with something that would be considered a 1.0 release.

The new theme for 2019 is scaling the company. Now that we have a production level version of the software, we are ramping up sales and building a robust company. We’re calling this “Crossing the beta line”.

I’ve hired a VP of Sales, Mark diTargiani, who’s a veteran sales manager in Silicon Valley. I also have two sales reps - Jenae Hunter and Pam Sorci. You will likely hear from at least one of them in the near future (if not already). We’re looking for leads and we’re hoping you can help us out.

Of course this doesn’t mean we’re done developing Bizinta - far from it! We have lots of plans for 2019 and will be adding new features. The focus of development will be more on improving the customer experience and less on cranking out new features.

Accomplishments in 2018:

  • Proved the product is viable in the market and people will pay for it

  • Started improving the UI with modern browser technologies (React, Bootstrap) to improve response time and get a better look and feel

  • Did a complete rewrite of Project Tracking so that our customers can better integrate their projects to Bizinta

  • Switched the Database to Amazon Aurora to improve site performance

  • Added Daily Scheduling as a Scheduling Option to support our clients that do more granular scheduling

  • Kicked off the beta of CRM allowing CRM integration with the other Bizinta business systems - something nobody has, but everybody wants!

What’s coming in 2019:

  • Grow the company to be financially self sustaining - add 21 new customers to provide more resources for all

  • Continue the UI work, incorporating our customer’s feedback and further improving response time and look and feel.

  • Work on third party integrations starting with QuickBooks Online so that our customers can save time moving data back and forth from Bizinta to their accounting systems.

  • Create first pass Graphical Reporting and Dashboards so that our customers have even greater visibility into their businesses

  • Complete CRM beta and introduce it as an add-on to Bizinta and bring something amazing to the market!

I’ll be talking more about specific aspects of our roadmap for 2019, so stay tuned.


A Bizinta New Year's Eve

Barbara looked over at Steve, her husband of 25 years. He was fast asleep on the couch his wine hardly touched. It had been a long time since they went out on the town for New Year’s Eve. Lately, they just stayed up late together, watched the fire in the fireplace, and reviewed the year they just had and what they expected in the next year.

But this year Steve fell asleep.

No matter. It was nice to have some quiet time for herself. She cradled her wine in her hand, took a sip, and thought of all the things that had happened over the year. Last New Year’s Eve she was not nearly so calm and optimistic. She was exhausted. She was the one who had fallen asleep. Steve teased her about it for the whole year. She smiled to herself thinking how this coming year would be her revenge.

Last year her business was out of control. She had become a victim of her own success. She had finally got some traction, and it just took off, but her systems and processes weren’t ready for the growth. She had felt like a circus performer spinning plates - frantically going from one plate to the next desperate to avert disaster.

Billing was a constant problem. It seemed like the invoices were wrong more than they were right. Sometimes her customers noticed, sometimes they didn’t. But when they did, it was embarrassing. Sometimes when they didn’t, she would eat the under bill just to avoid the embarrassment. She also had this gnawing uncertainty about how her business actually worked. It was easy to keep track of what was going on when the company was smaller, but now at this size, she just couldn’t keep track of it. She wanted reports, but every time she tried to make one it was just too hard and took too long. Her data wasn’t consistent and she didn’t have time to fix it.

To deliver these substandard results she had been working 60, then 70, then 80 hours a week. She wasn’t happy. Neither were her employees. Steve wasn’t either. “Did we get divorced and you just forgot to tell me?” he would say, half joking and half complaining.

She had to do something. But she didn’t know what. It just seemed like an insurmountable problem. There were so many things to fix; she didn’t know where to start.

Early one morning before anyone else was in the office, Barbara was staring at her backlog of emails trying to get the courage to open one and start working. Then the phone rang. She picked it up hoping that it was someone bringing her something other than more problems. It was from a woman named Jenae who said she worked for a software company named Bizinta that could solve her operational overwhelm. Curious, Barbara stayed on the phone. Yes, Jenae was in sales, but she seemed more concerned about Barbara and her business than she was in closing a deal. She said Bizinta was all focused on solving problems and building long-term relationships. That was refreshing! After Jenae asked some questions and told her more about the software, Barbara decided to take Jenae’s invitation to do an online demo with the CEO, Matt. Even though she was super busy, Bizinta sounded like exactly what she needed to help run her business.

Like Jenae, Matt was very curious about her business and started by asking a lot of questions. After he listened to Barbara summarize her challenges with the business, he took her through all the features of the product. There was just so much Bizinta could do. Matt showed her how she would be able to click a button and generate all her invoices. Sophisticated reports that would have to take her days to put together were available in minutes as well.

Her head was buzzing with all the possibilities this software gave her to run her business more efficiently, understand where her revenue and profits came from, and, most importantly, grow her company and increase its value. But she was nervous. It would be a big step to switch to Bizinta. It was a move away from the uncomfortable familiar to an unknown, yet promising, future.

After talking to a number of satisfied Bizinta clients, she decided to make the move. She realized that things were only going to get worse the longer she waited. “I’ll take it,” she had told Matt on a follow-up call, feeling glimmers of hope and relief she hadn’t felt in a long time.

As it turned out, switching to Bizinta had been the best decision she had made. Even Steve was impressed. “Gosh, I wish they made a program like that for my construction company,” he said when she showed it to him.

The software implementation had been a few months, but she found the process far from onerous. It made her really look at her business. And Matt had given her lots of good advice since he had already done these implementations with several other companies similar to hers.

Last year, she was dreading the upcoming year. There just wasn’t anywhere to go. There were only so many hours she could work and she was tapped out. She was sure the company was going to come crashing down around her head.

This year, she couldn’t wait for January 1st to get the next year started with her company. Things were fun again. The managers she had hired had hit the ground running and she was already working less. She wasn’t at the 20-30 that was her long-term goal, but it was something she could manage. The company was poised for more growth and she could see the way forward!

She talked so much about Bizinta that Steve got a little jealous. “Sometimes I think you like Bizinta more than you like me” he had said. “At least Bizinta gets you home at a reasonable hour though - so I guess it worked out!” They had both laughed.

She walked over to the couch and gently shook Steve awake. He blinked and looked at her groggily. “It’s almost midnight. Are you going to wish me a happy new year or what?”


Part 3: Implementing OODA for your business infrastructure

Guns, bombs, tanks, and fighter planes. Those are what the average person thinks of when asked to describe the military. What they don’t think of is command & control and how much the military invests and demands from those systems.

One of the most important planes the U.S. Air Force uses is the AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) plane. This is a large unarmed plane with a giant radar dish bolted on. This has been the Air Force’s ace-in-the-hole for decades. Seeing your enemies from long distances and sharing that information is incredibly powerful. It’s really a flying OODA system.

For businesses, this is what IT (information technology) should be. We’ve worked in IT our whole lives and we can say that this certainly hasn’t always been the case. As SaaS software becomes more and more pervasive, the nuts and bolts of traditional IT (server support, purchasing, licensing, and custom development) become less and less needed. IT is less a support service and more a tool for optimizing and driving your business.

IT is getting specialized and honed to a strategic service answering the question: What systems are needed to support and improve our OODA loop?   

A common conclusion from business owners is that more integration is better. The better the different systems communicate, the smoother the OODA loop runs. The fewer systems you have the easier that becomes. It all starts with Observe and in a business context, means collecting business information.

IT can address Orient is through building common contextual tools that are shared among the organization. This could be as simple as a common dashboard to measure company success. I don’t know who said it, but the idea that you measure what’s important is very true. It speaks directly to culture and alignment.

Step back and look at computer systems as a whole. Too many organizations are in a “patch it and forget it” mode. Actually, a quick fix is fine as long as you continuously revisit and tweak it in an iterative way. The follow up is where things break down. OODA is an iterative process and improving it can also be.

As an organization, always be improving incrementally. Remember that small improvements can compound over time to become big advantages. But also be open to those big changes that can catapult you forward and be game changers..

Part 2: Does your company OODA?

Now that we know what the OODA loop is (if not, see previous post), how do you implement it? And that’s not really even the right question. Ignoring OODA doesn’t mean you won’t have one, it just won’t be optimal (or even acceptable). The best way to work on your OODA loop is to consider the four steps individually and take an honest look at how well each step is implemented in your company.

Observe:

How well does your company collect information and then disseminate it? Companies struggle with having consistent data. Information science dictates that there should be one authoritative source for each piece of data. If you have the same information stored in two different places, how do you decide which is correct?

It’s better to have the wrong information than have duplication. If the information is wrong but there’s a single authoritative source you can fix it in one place and now everyone in the organization is updated. If you have data stored in 10 places and aren’t consistent, you have to make 10 fixes.

You can’t make fast decisions if you are always trying to reconcile your data.

Orient:

Col. Boyd considered this to be the hardest part of the OODA process. Does your company have a culture that promotes alignment? One symptom of a lack of alignment is managers measuring their company in different ways. Not only does this increase the reporting load on the administrative staff, but the team has no consistent context to evaluate the information they receive from the Observe step.

The topic of organizational alignment is a big one and beyond the scope of this article, but it is key to this step. You all have to agree on meaning or you won’t be able to decide.

Decide:

If Observe & Orient were done correctly, Decide becomes straightforward. If not, this becomes difficult because the team isn’t working from a common set of beliefs. Decision by fiat, the usual result of decision lockup, means that buy-in will be absent.

Act:

This is the most straightforward part and you wouldn’t be in business at all if you haven’t done this already. Plenty of companies have figured out Decide and Act but are weak in the other two steps. Without the other steps, you see thrash/froth/churn - plenty of activity but not coordinated in any way. The company lurches around and is sometimes successful and sometimes not. A few lucky successes lead everyone to believe that the organization is ‘fixed’. But all it does is  lead to complacency and an inevitable crash back to earth.

It’s important to realize that the loop is relative and perishable. What was adequate yesterday may not work today. Your competition is constantly improving their loop and as your own company grows, the loop gets slower and slower unless you are constantly working on it.

A large organization can be agile if it focuses relentlessly on the OODA loop. If your company seems rudderless and reactive, a likely explanation is that the current infrastructure to support the OODA loop is no longer optimized. The next post will discuss infrastructure and how it relates to OODA.


Part 1: What is OODA and why is it important for your business?

In the 1970’s, U.S. Air Force colonel John Boyd developed a model on decision making. This model was guided by his experience as a Korean war fighter pilot: whoever could complete their decision making process faster usually won the engagement.

While borne out of warfare, leaders have found that the model applies equally well to other adversarial relationships such as business competition.  

The acronym, OODA, breaks the decision making process down into four steps:  

O: Observe - Collect information about the current situation

O: Orient - Figure out what the information means, put it in context

D: Decide - Agree on a plan of action that is informed by the contextualized data

A: Act - Execute the plan and go back to Observe to see the results of your action

It is all about iterative speed. Whoever can cycle the steps the fastest gains the advantage and the initiative. A small advantage can be magnified because it compounds over time.

If you reach Act before your competitor, they are now in a difficult position. They can Act on their plan, but you have already changed the situation so the plan may no longer be valid. Or they can go back to Observe to see what you are now doing, but they’ve missed their chance to Act and are already behind for the next cycle.

You can see the advantage of having a fast OODA loop, but how do you apply it to your business? Look for it in the next post.