!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Don Vandergriff II: Developing Adaptive Leaders at West Point

Friday, January 08, 2010

Don Vandergriff II: Developing Adaptive Leaders at West Point

A couple of earlier posts discussed John Boyd, who served as an Air Force officer from 1951 to 1975. Among his notable contributions to military thinking is the "OODA loop," aka the "Boyd Cycle," a decision-making process summarized in the graphic below.

Adapted from ""No 'Approved Solutions' in Asymmetric Warfare" (pdf), by Maj. Chad Foster. The Orientation phase is highlighted because the orientation process is emphasized in West Point's military science classes that use the Adaptive Leadership Methodology.

The OODA Loop is now embedded in military science courses taught to cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. This is part of a broader framework designed to develop students' adaptive leadership skills.

As Maj. Chad Foster explains in a brief article (pdf) published in the August 2009 issue of West Point's Assembly magazine, Don Vandergriff's Adaptive Leadership Methodology (ALM) is now used in Academy military science classes in order to nurture "effective decision-making and adaptability through experiential learning."

The graphic below shows how ALM governs the flow of a class. The OODA Loop comes into play at the points where students need to reach decisions on how to handle scenarios the teacher presents.

Use of the Adaptive Leadership Methodology in West Point military science classes
("No 'Approved Solutions' in Asymmetric Warfare" [pdf])

The emphasis is on the Orientation phase of the OODA Loop
because this is when the cadet attempts to make sense out of the information at hand. The decision is important, but how the cadet arrived at it is just as important.
In concluding his article, Foster notes that implementing the Adaptive Leadership Methodology at West Point involved considerable effort, but that the results — in terms of student engagement and learning — have clearly made the effort worthwhile.

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