When you’re figuring out the other side’s strategy, you start with their Endgame.
That’s because most people follow the first rule of strategy: Look forward and reason backward.
Strategies are built when people imagine an Endgame. From there, they reason backward. They build a strategy for getting the people, places and things for their Endgame to exist.
Most strategies look like this:
To learn more about this sequence, read A Spy’s Guide To Strategy.
But sometimes you don’t know the other side’s Endgame. Sometimes, it’s not real. Sometimes, it only exists in their head. It’s a product of their imagination.
When you can’t see the other side’s Endgame, you can’t reason backward. Without their Endgame, you can’t see their strategy.
To see their Endgame, you can ask them what it is. Maybe, they’ll tell you. Maybe, they’ll lie.
Better to look at their actions.
Actions can be deceptive. Actions can be misinterpreted. Actions can be stupid.
But actions can never be a lie.
To see the other side’s Endgame, you look at their actions.
But there’s a problem with actions: there’s a lot of them.
If you’re looking at the other side’s actions, you’re looking at a lot of data. You’re looking at what they do from waking up to going to sleep. You’re looking at eating. You’re looking at brushing teeth. You’re looking at mundane details of daily life. You’re looking at a lot of data that doesn’t matter.
You need to narrow it down. Narrow it down to a certain set of actions. Narrow it down to a certain time, if you can.
Fortunately, there’s a time when people are focused on their Endgame. But it’s not the same time for everyone. But usually, it’s at least once a week.
In suburban America, it’s usually Sunday. If they’re church-going, Sunday afternoon. It’s when work demands are rare. Family demands are few. It’s the one time a week when someone can do what they want.
In the Middle East, it’s usually Saturday.
In Asia, it varies.
But everywhere, it’s when someone has the maximum amount of choice. The maximum amount of freedom to pursue what they want. It’s the time when they do what they want.
When someone does what they want, they focus on their Endgame.
People pursue their Endgame when they have a choice to pursue what they want. When they aren’t constrained.
When they’re free.
The exact day of their Endgame depends on their culture. It depends on their work schedule. It depends on when the other people in their Endgame are free.
If you’re looking for the other side’s Endgame, find that day. Find the day when they can do what they want.
Find the Day of their Endgame.
And reason backward.
You’ll see their strategy.
To read more about understanding others’ strategies (and building your own), read A Spy’s Guide To Strategy.