In last two weeks we began to understand OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) by first looking at Observe. We looked at all the factors that go into this first step and how the Observe step is a simple as seeing or looking at the situation.
In this post I’d like to look at decision and action.
Decision and Action
Knowledge, speed and precision are vital ingredients for tactical athletes engaged in highly dynamic and unpredictable situations. Therefore, enabling the tactical athlete to develop the right mental strength perspective quickly can help him/her take charge of the situation – colorfully put baffling the adversary (when one exists) – by taking proper action at the most optimal intersection of time and space.
Decision and action are heavily contingent on attention and the orienting response. They are adapted by the mental model and situation awareness created by the tactical athlete.
In a confrontation situation having the correct mental model and developing the proper situation are crucial to goal accomplishment. Obviously, solutions should be designed to match with the mental model and expectations of the tactical athlete and enable him or her develop the proper situation awareness by providing the necessary data points, control options and cues.
In looking at what goes into the “Observe” portion of OODA we can see the an individuals “filtering” systems plays a significant role in which data points, cues, etc are actually observed.
A person’s situation awareness can be described as his or her state of knowledge or mental model of the surrounding situation or the environment. It is not just spatial orientation but includes an understanding of the dynamics of the situation and the actions that are expected to take place in the future .
A tactical athlete, who has developed a good mental model of people and events, combined with the possible direction of a quickly unfolding event, can be said to have situation awareness. When a tactical athlete has good situation awareness it increases their tactical advantage.
Situation awareness broken down into its simplest components has three levels to it. This can be best understood in terms of error classifications– i.e., through levels impediments that exist with regard to developing good SA:
Situation Awareness Error Classifications 
Level 1: Failure to correctly perceive information
- Data not available
- Data hard to discriminate or detect
- Failure to monitor or observe data
- Misperception of data
- Memory loss
Level 2: Failure to correctly integrate or comprehend information
- Lack of or poor mental model
- Use of incorrect mental model
- Over-reliance on default values
Level 3: Failure to project future actions or state of the system
- Lack of or poor mental model
- Incorrect projection (over & under) of current trends
- Inability to project current trends due to failures in level 1 & level 2
Broadly speaking, good situation awareness can be provided by address the mental strength and the “filters” of the tactical athlete in doing the following:
- Provide goal and current task relevant information with the desired condition of being salient
- Bring to the awareness the goal-relevant cues in the environment
- Training the tactical athlete to seek and acquire goal-relevant information and designing solutions to facilitate the development of the correct mental model
- Design solutions that provide the information sought by the agent on demand
- Design solutions that provide sufficient clarity so the individual can develop the correct mental model.
In certain situations a tactical athlete will find themselves operating beyond the optimal state of arousal [3[. Extreme arousal occurs – a.k.a., “predatory cardiovascular reactions”  – when the heart rate exceeds 170 beats per minute due to unfolding events in the environment. These states are of interest in the human factors standpoint as they result in the following:
- Complex motor skills breakdown
- Absolute breakdown of cognitive processing
- The forebrain shuts down – it is hijacked by the midbrain
- Vision becomes restricted
- Behavior becomes inappropriately aggressive.
- Lose of perspective (e.g., get wrapped-up in the chase), resulting in fuzzy or loss in situational awareness
A state of high arousal triggers a number of physiological responses (increase in heart rate, sweating, excretion of certain hormones, etc.) in the body. The most infamous among this are the parasympathetic reflex (blowing the ballast) and backlash10 .
By developing mental strength in the knowledge of the five major premises of highly aroused states  a tactical athlete can be in better control of their performance. These will be discussed next week.
- Endsley, M.R. (1995). Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems. Human Factors 37 (1). pp. 32-64.
- Endsley, M.R. (1999). Situation Awareness and Human Error: Designing to Support Human Performance. Proceedings of the High Consequence Systems Surety Conference, Albuquerque, NM.
- The optimal state of arousal results in a heart rate of 115 to 145 beats per minute (bpm).
- Grossman, D. (1996). On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. Boston, MA: Back Bay Books.
- Frijda, N.H. (1986). The Emotions. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.