The link is to a draft white paper I've been working on as part of my duties at the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance. Any comments, criticisms, or suggestions are most welcome. Here are two excerpts, one from the introduction and one from the summary.
ODP (Operational Design Process) fills a gap between the issuance of a policy objective, and the planning to achieve that policy objective. Contained within is a description of a way of framing a design for the purpose of proposing a problem, and then developing a theory of action. It is an interpretation and adaptation of the Operational Design Process (developed at SAMS and employed at the Army's Unified Quest 2008 War Game and is itself an adaptation of Systemic Operational Design). It must be inclusive of not only the "out puts" or "products" of the process, but more importantly the interaction of the people who participate in the process, and who will go forward in planning and implementation / execution. The critical issue ODP highlights is that the right problem is identified and considered based on a thorough analysis to which a theory of action can be developed that can be scrutinized based on continuous interaction.
This is not planning. It is a process that should be done prior to planning, but can be continued through implementation in order to ensure the theory remains valid. Designing the Operational Frame by establishing a theory of reality and a theory of action helps the commander and staff to avoid the effects of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the effect where because a COA has been committed to in planning, all other relevant information which might contradict or conflict with the COA that has been committed to, or invested in, is ignored, bent to establish a fallacious causal relationship, or biased as to have the wrong weight. Cognitive dissonance can cause a commander and staff to see only what they wish to see, and make bad decisions. While all bias cannot be eliminated, the ODP can help mitigate the natural biases commanders and staffs have with regard to a chosen COA. It does this through its interactive nature which better represents reality, and by identifying many of the various potential outcomes, and establishing more explicitly how those outcomes might occur.
ODP is not planning, it is a theory of reality that informs a theory of action upon which a campaign design can be built and tested through interaction. ODP fills a gap between the issuance of a policy objective, and the planning to achieve that policy objective. This is founded on assessing the environment as holistic, interactive, biological system which recognizes that there are critical subsystems within. These subsystems of people often interact in non-linear ways with produce non-linear outcomes. As a process, it seeks to test the underpinning logic to which we ascribe rationality, with the recognition that although we might consider an act as irrational, the cultural, sociological and political conditions in which the system exist may make the same act plausible, rational or even likely. This process engenders that it is better to think in terms of tolerances and relevance then in absolutes. This process recognizes that as long as there are people and politics there will remain interaction, and as such tolerances and relevance can change over time. ODP can be applied wherever there are complex interactive problems.
Using ODP to Establish a Campaign Design Framework for SFA Activities -- June 2008 DRAFT white paper