Small Wars Journal

Frame Reflection: A Critical Review of US Military Approaches to Complex Situations

Frame Reflection: A Critical Review of US Military Approaches to Complex Situations

OODA Loop

Written by Major Ben Zweibelson (US Army), Lieutenant Colonel Grant Martin (US Army), and Dr. Christopher Paparone (Colonel, Retired, US Army), all frequent contributors to Small Wars Journal and established design theory proponents.

The authors present a thesis that effective design requires that we must critically challenge how and why we approach military situations the way we normally do.

We need to open ourselves up to multiple frames to include those generated outside our institutions. We use the military context to describe how institutions may interfere with that openness, and resist such critical reflection on account of numerous institutionalisms. We argue in this article that design thinking requires a more critical view of institutional blindness. Our principal theory is that of frame reflection which involves an earnest attempt to temporarily suspend one's mindset away from institutionalized ways of making sense of complex or 'messy' situations. In order to do this, institutions must first become reflexive about indoctrinations that comprise how to perceive the world, assign symbols and concepts to phenomena, and apply narrow methodologies to interpret how the world operates.

This monograph challenges the military profession and introduces a dramatic departure from prior institutional efforts to 'do design framing within doctrine, steps, and attached to MDMP as a novel accessory." Small Wars Journal readers familiar with many of the design debates will recognize many of Ben, Grant, and Chris' arguments as part of the emergent discussion on design thinking that has been evolving here at SWJ for several years.

Frame Reflection: A Critical Review of US Military Approaches to Complex Situations