9. Learn-See-Do-Review Cycle (Do loop)
Comparing Shewhart’s scientific learning cycle, Deming’s OPDCA cycle, Simon’s design thinking cycle, Boyd’s OODA cycle, Beck’s Design-Develop-Test-Discover agile software development cycle, and Ries’s Envision-Build-Measure-Learn lean startup cycle, we can see that these are all variations of one general learning and doing foresight cycle, the four-category Learn-See-Do-Review (LSDR) cycle, or Do loop. In the above models, Learning includes investigating, observing, measuring, and discovering, Seeing includes orienting, envisioning, deciding, designing, and planning, Doing includes acting, developing, and building, and Reviewing includes checking, auditing, testing, and adjusting.
The Do loop is a good shorthand name for all of these cycles, for three reasons. First, it reminds us that better Doing is why foresight exists. Second, it sounds like the OODA loop, which reminds us that a greater cycle speed, efficiency, and a higher number of turns are all competitive advantages. Third, the phrase Do loop is faster and easier to say than all the other decision cycle names above, another way to pay homage to Boyd’s acceleration-aware perspective.
All Do loops are actually perception-decision-action (PDA) cycles, as we will discuss in the next chapter. In foresight practice, our Do loops can have a long time horizon, as with Deming’s uses in process improvement and quality control, where they may include long-term planning, or a very short one, as with OODA or Agile or Lean Startup cycles, where we may be reacting in the moment and making things up on the fly.
Hard as it can be for some foresight practitioners to accept, very short learning cycles are often a much superior form of foresight than many of our more classic long-horizon deliberative models. There are many business situations where the benefits of getting longer views are simply not worth the costs involved.
Sometimes, you need your Do loop to be faster and more efficient than your competitors, not deeper or more accurate. Practitioners must be aware of all the main forms of foresight that work, and be able to use models and frameworks that best fit each context. We’ll unpack the Eight Skills of the Do loop in Chapter 9. It is the most broadly useful adaptive foresight model we know.