Ozan Toptas's Blog

Tempo in Communications Monitoring and Measurement

Did you ever read a situation report and wondered why this information is arriving now? Timing of a report is significant. And it is got everything to do with tempo.

Tempo is occasionally misunderstood. Usually, it is considered as the pace or speed of activity. But just the velocity of motion is not tempo – it is just that, speed.

To understand tempo, one should first understand the OODA loop. Created by John Boyd, the OODA loop is a useful framework for decision-making. You can also use it as a meta-tool to improve one’s decision-making.

A sketch illustration showing the cyclical nature of the OODA Loop. Each phase connects with an arrow to the next, Observe to Orient to Decide to Act, back to Observe.

OODA Loop consists of Observe – Orient – Decision – Action in that order. And the tempo is how fast you can go full circle around that loop.

Discerning tempo from speed is critical in every strategic process. But it is also especially crucial for evaluation and intelligence activities.

OODA Loop sketch illustration showing how new data interrupts the loop. Loop runs through Observe, Orient and Decide. But new data is introduced on Decide phase, resetting the loop, back to Observe phase.

For example, if you were to set your contextual research activities to a higher pace than your operational pace, that would reset your OODA loop back to Orientation phase. And this would continuously disrupt your decision-making. This is one of the ambiguous ways how analysis paralysis impacts an organization.

That’s why timing your analysis products to your operational pace is important. It can impair decision-making and can damage the implementation efforts.

That said, it is also critical to be able to reset your loop when there is context-changing data. You would rather not be responding to an earlier problem later in the game.

#monitoring and evaluation #tempo