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The Rule Of Four (Or Five)

You can make strategy easy if you focus on one thing. A goal. An objective. A single measure.

It's also a good way to make sure your strategy fails.

Because a good strategy always requires more than one thing. One thing isn't enough. Not even close.

When a business asks me to consult, it's because they have a problem. Or an opportunity. Or they're missing something and don't where to start.

Whatever it is, they think it's one thing. A single problem. A single opportunity. A single thing they're missing.

It never is.

It's always more than one thing.

A client started a new insurance business. He had a lot of data. A lot of analytics. A lot of insights into what customers wanted. And he thought that was enough.

It wasn't.

Because insight was just one thing. There were more things he had to do well. He had to build a good lead generation platform. He had to build a good sales center. He had to hire people to serve existing customers.

He had to do four things well. Not one thing. Four.

He figured it out, but it cost him a lot of time. A lot of effort. A lot of money.

Which is normal.

The problem was he didn't expect it. Which meant he had to change his strategy. He had to change his plan. Half-way through. He had to spend more time and effort and money than he expected.

He's not unusual.

He's normal.

Most people think a good strategy means figuring out how to do one thing well. And then they get into it and realize it takes two things. And then they discover it takes three things.

But that's not enough.

Usually, a good strategy means doing four things well. Sometimes, it's five.

It's the Rule of Four (or Five).

Fortunately, you don't always have to do them yourself.

To have a successful book, you need at least four things:

- A way to get your book in front of people.

- A way for people to buy your book.

- A way for people to read your book.

- A book that people like to read.

And really, there's a fifth thing:

- A way for the author to get paid.

By working with Amazon on A Spy's Guide To Thinking, I didn't spend much time, effort or money on anything except creating the fourth thing. Amazon put the book in front of people. Amazon made it easy to buy the book. Amazon made it easy to read the book (via Kindle).

And Amazon made sure I got paid.

Of the Four (or Five) things, Amazon did Three (or Four).

Which allowed me to focus on one.

Which made my strategy easy.


It takes Four (or Five) things because you're building a "system" with any strategy. But not a mechanical system. It's an organic system, because other people in it have the power to decide what to do in it. And whether to be in it. And how to play in it. Which is why we'll call it a "game" in the next book in the series: A Spy's Guide To Strategy.

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