“What is strategy? A mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests.”
You don’t know what might happen to you today.
Depending on your perspective (and your personality traits) the above statement can bring you a sense of freedom and curiosity, or it can fill you with absolute dread. Or, if you’re like most people, you’ll feel a combination of both.
Certain Analyst personality types are more affected by fate than others. Debaters are the most likely to say that they thrive on day-to-day uncertainty, while Commanders are the most likely to feel like they can handle anything life throws their way. Logicians are the most likely type to dislike asking for advice, while Architects really prefer to figure out things on their own.
Despite their differences, all Analysts process uncertainty similarly because of their shared Intuitive and Thinking personality traits – what we mean by this is Analysts are likely to encounter a situation and think ‘Let’s break this down with some intellectual analysis’.
Let’s discuss three ways Analyst personalities can practice handling uncertainty – and one technique they should avoid:
Three Ways to Handle Uncertainty
- Practice viewing uncertainty as an opportunity to exercise your problem-solving skills.
- Focus on what you can do in uncertain situations, such as researching different options or relevant data. This can happen during the situation as well: others are a valuable resource when gathering information.
- Embrace (or enhance) your ability to move quickly past any stressful events. For how to do that, read on.
When it comes to uncertainty, these are the three strongest tools that Analyst personality types have at their disposal. While it’s good to know what these methods are, it’s even better knowing how to combine all three and apply them. The OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, deconstructs the four steps an individual goes through when reacting to an event. This technique can help Analysts learn how to deal with uncertainty in an efficient and structured way.
The OODA Loop was created by legendary military strategist John Boyd for warfare and can be adapted by the everyday human to deal with the uncertainties of everyday life.
The following is a summarized guide of the OODA Loop and tips on how to use it.
Your main focus during this stage is to build a comprehensive picture of a confusing situation with as much accuracy as possible. Consider the following:
Fighter pilots, for whom the OODA Loop was originally created, must consider the following questions:
- What is immediately affecting me?
- What is affecting my opponent?
- What could affect me later on?
- Can I make any predictions?
- What is necessary to know and what isn’t?
- Thankfully for most of us, our uncertain situation isn’t likely to be armed aerial combat. Still, you can ask the same questions the pilot asks themselves in your everyday situation.
For example, when faced with a small financial crisis, you first need to gather as much foundational knowledge as possible. This may be how much do you owe, how quickly do you need it, the income you’re bringing in, how much do you have available in savings, and so on.
At the same time, you’ll need to discard irrelevant information – any Google search “rabbit hole” that might lead you to investigate how you can avoid this situation in the future, perhaps – and figure out what is needed for your precise situation and how to solve it in the most efficient and beneficial way possible.
In this stage, you’ll be figuring out your position in the situation based on your past experiences, your observations, and what you know so far.
- This is the most important stage of the Loop, particularly for Analyst personalities. In the Orientation stage you need to discard all of your cognitive biases, and instead look for “mismatches” in your observations.
- Basically, don’t cherry pick information that matches your pre-existing beliefs. This can be difficult for Analysts as they have particular confidence in their knowledge base.
- Another key thing is to not assume something is wrong because it doesn’t fit into your orientation.
Let’s go back to the example of the financial emergency. At that moment, you may think you have to pay everything in full immediately because that’s the only way you’ve seen it done. However, it could be worth it to ask if there is a payment plan available. Are there discounts? Are you able to defer payment for a couple of months?
Here we come to the crux of it all – making an informed decision. In the last two steps, you were able to quickly brainstorm solutions to your problem. Now, you must choose the most relevant option to pursue.
- Make sure to double check your first conclusion. If you’ve made that conclusion before and it led you to a dead-end, then it’s time to make another sort of decision.
- Perhaps one of the most important things you need to know about this stage is that it needs to be flexible and open to updating. Uncertain situations are likely to change; you should be willing to change your decisions too.
In the example of the financial emergency, your first conclusion – and the conclusion that comes most naturally to you – is to pay everything in full. Then, you remember the last time that you did that, you had to empty your accounts and then rely on your parents to help you for the next couple of months.
Instead, you decide to call the organization and see what options are available.
With your decision made, now is the time to act. This is when you see how good your decision was.
- If you observed the right information, you were able to overcome biases that could harm you.
- The OODA Loop is all about action. The ability to act upon rational decisions is a serious advantage and one that Analysts already naturally use.
- Whatever the outcome, after you act, you must cycle back to the first part of the loop and begin observing again.
When it comes to conflict, the OODA Loop should be never-ending. Life is unpredictable, and it helps to be ready to counteract its swift changes.
You decide to call the organization that you owe and ask if you can defer payment. Thankfully, the answer is yes, and they will allow you a deferment period (plus interest). You then decide to save every month for this new expense.
One Thing Analysts Shouldn’t Do
The number one thing that Analyst personality types should keep themselves from doing is dwelling on what is beyond their control. This involves spending countless hours in their head, wondering how they can change things far beyond their control.
During times of uncertainty, staying still can often be their enemy. Of course, that’d be asking Analysts, particularly those with the Judging personality trait, to cast aside their coveted skill of careful decision-making. So, what we propose to do instead is set aside a block of time to dwell. This can be five minutes, or it can be two days, it’s up to the individual’s comfort level. However, once that time is complete, they must commit to no longer dwelling and to acting instead.
Analyst personalities want to be masters of their own fate.
That being said, life throws curveballs all the time. It isn’t possible to always know where things will lead – and it’s unfair to expect that of yourself. Sometimes, dealing with uncertainty takes a leap of faith. But, luckily, most life situations that deal with uncertainty can be navigated successfully with careful observation and well-planned reaction.
Have thoughts about this article? Do you think practicing the OODA loop can help you in your everyday life? Let us know in the comments!