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<title>Fragile Plan vs Robust Plan | Derek Sivers</title>
<meta name="description" content="When I first had the idea for Wood Egg — publishing 16 books about 16 countries every year — I thought I would write them all myself.  Visit 16 countries for 3 weeks each, doing intensive research the whole time.  That’s 48 weeks, so I could do it again each year.">
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<div class="blogparent"><a href="/blog">Articles</a>:</div>
<h1>Fragile Plan vs Robust Plan</h1>
<small>2013-06-15</small>
</header>

<p>
	When I <a href="/eg">first had the idea for Wood Egg</a> — publishing 16 books about 16 countries every year — I thought I would write them all <strong>myself</strong>.
	Visit 16 countries for 3 weeks each, doing intensive research the whole time.
	That’s 48 weeks, so I could do it again each year.
</p><p>
	… But I had a baby on the way, so that idea lasted about a minute.
</p><p>
	Then I thought of <strong>a journalist</strong> I know who would love that kind of life.
	I asked, she said yes, she flew to Singapore, and started working.
</p><p>
	… But it was a really bad fit, so after five weeks, we called it quits.
</p><p>
	Then I decided to hire <strong>one writer per-country</strong>.
	16 authors to write 16 books.
	This went OK at first.
	<a href="http://mohitpawar.com/about/">Mohit Pawar</a> did a great job with India, and <a href="http://www.cameronkeng.com/about/">Cameron Keng</a> did a great job with Taiwan.
</p><p>
	… But the people I hired for the other countries flaked out, so I realized this plan was still too fragile.
</p>
<h4>
	Making a Robust Plan
</h4>
<p>
	I really wanted this to work.
	I had to be smart.
	I had to make a better plan.
</p><p>
	I re-read my notes on <a href="/book/EMythRevisited">E-Myth</a>, <a href="/book/WisdomOfCrowds">The Wisdom of Crowds</a>, <a href="/book/Crowdsourcing">Crowdsourcing</a>, and <a href="/book/HereComesEverybody">Here Comes Everybody</a>.
	(In fact, I re-read <a href="/book">my notes on 130 books</a>. It was an enlightening week.)
</p><p>
	I learned a few things:
</p><ol>
<li><strong>
	If you want help, it helps to get specific.
</strong></li>
<li><strong>
	A plan that’s too dependent on any one person is too fragile.
</strong></li>
</ol>
<h4>
	Getting Specific:
</h4>
<p>
	Before, I had a very vague outline of what I wanted the book to cover.
	I asked the authors to include sections on culture, government, business setup, hiring, banking, and marketing.
	That was it.
	The details were up to them.
	Go!
</p><p>
	In hindsight, I can see how daunting it was.
	Too wide open.
	I’ve written about the need to get specific before — (see “<a href="/get-specific">Get specific</a>” and “<a href="/restrictions-will-set-you-free">Restrictions will set you free</a>”) — but I had forgotten to apply it to this.
</p><p>
	So I spent a couple weeks and <strong>came up with <a href="http://woodegg.com/in#toc">200 specific questions</a></strong>.
	Now, to write the book, we just had to answer those 200 questions.
</p><p>
	It’s infinitely easier to find someone to answer a specific question than to find someone to impart wisdom on a vague topic.
	It <strong>puts the burden on the asker</strong>, to come up with a good question, and <strong>lifts the burden from the answerer.</strong>
</p>
<h4>
	Multiple People:
</h4>
<p>
	So that the book was not dependent on any one person, and the book was not one person’s opinion, I made a system where each of those 200 questions had to be <strong>answered by three different people</strong>.
	Ideally, one local, one foreigner, and one other.
</p><p>
	16 countries × 3 researchers = 48 people.
	I used <a href="https://www.upwork.com/">Upwork.com</a> to find people in each country.
</p><p>
	Of course, some disappeared, some never finished, and a few gave bad answers, but that was OK.
	Life happens.
	People’s circumstances change.
	I understand.
	But it won’t hurt my plan.
	If any one person is gone, I can still carry on.
</p><p>
	When all 200 questions had 3 answers each, (16 × 200 × 3 = 9600 answers), I hired a few writer/editors to combine the answers into one essay per question.
	Again, one person disappeared, but it was easy for another to step in.
</p><p>
	And that was the robust plan that got it <a href="http://woodegg.com/">done</a>.
</p><p>
<em>
	(Note: I was also visiting every country myself, and contributing my own research to the books. But it was important that the plan didn’t require me, either.)
</em>
</p>
<h4>
	Lessons learned?
</h4>
<p>
	If you’re starting a project or company:
</p>
<ol>
<li>
	Don’t expect anyone to care as much as you.
</li>
<li>
	Don’t require them to think as hard about this as you have.
</li>
<li>
	Do expect them to change their mind and disappear.
</li>
<li>
	Make a robust plan that includes #1-3.
</li>
</ol>
<p>
<strong>
	As the founder, the burden is on you to come up with a great plan, to lift the burden from the people helping you.
</strong>
</p><p>
	Then, when you find some <a href="/book/Linchpin">brilliant people</a>, it’s a great bonus, instead of an absolute necessity.
</p>
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