Spies have to think better than everyone. The consequences of their thinking results in war, death, injury, torture, prison and chaos. They’re always prepared for the worst. That’s why it’s smart to think like a spy.
DADA loop is one of the most popular ways of thinking like a spy. DADA stands for data, analysis, decision and action. The model is a remix of the famous military strategist, John Boyd’s OODA Loop.
Gathering data → feeds into analysis → which feeds into decision → which feeds into an action. — John Braddock
The DADA Loop
NPR’s Planet Money recently interviewed former CIA spy John Braddock. They talked about a conflict scenario where John avoided blowing his cover in a foreign country by going through the DADA loop numerous times.
A man confronts John at the back of a subway car early in the morning. He tells John to give him his phone.
There’s a camera in the subway car. Clothes are shabby. His eyes are dancing. He’s not focused and not prepared for this moment.
This guy is not a spy. He’s probably a mugger. I don’t want to be caught fighting on surveillance.
I’m going to stand up.
Put phone in pocket. Stand up.
Mugger doesn’t respond.
Mugger is unphased.
I’m going to move to the side.
Move to the side.
The mugger moves to the side to block John. He grabs John, head-butts him and walks away laughing.
John used the DADA loop repeatedly and didn’t overreact. He avoided losing his phone and blowing his cover. He overcame a difficult situation with a simple way to think.
Read more about the DADA loop in John Braddock’s A Spy’s Guide to Thinking