Fourchotomy Strategy


Strategic consulting is overseen by our Managing Director, Rohini Ralby. Drawing on her decades of experience in security and consulting, and on the interior practices she learned from years of close individual study with the renowned Indian teacher Swami Muktananda, Ms. Ralby listens deeply and discerns clearly, at a pre-verbal level, the dynamics of any situation. Working far up the chain of causation, she then applies this insight to help individuals, companies, and governmental agencies understand the root causes in play and the ways they can break out of limiting patterns and deal with other parties from a position of clarity, flexibility, and strength.

In The Art of War, Sunzi establishes that sound strategy builds from three pillars:  know yourself, know the terrain, and know who you are dealing with. In the absence of these essentials, your strategy will be shallow and unlikely to succeed. What most decision-makers need, therefore, is the means to set that threefold foundation. Ms. Ralby provides those means, along with ongoing guidance as events unfold.

One key tool Ms. Ralby uses in this process is what she has termed the fourchotomy – a tool for defining, accepting, and mastering patterns of perception and thought that restrict our ability to see and act with clarity and freedom.

It is common knowledge that as human beings we tend to think in binary terms: good/bad, strong/weak, organized/chaotic, etc. This basic premise, however, does not get us far in understanding how we operate, how others operate, or the situations in which we find ourselves.

The fourchotomy is so named because it goes beyond mere dichotomies to show us the more complex sets of oppositions that govern our responses to ourselves and to the world. Every seemingly negative side of a dichotomy has its positive aspect, and every positive side its negative. By failing to see how we conflate these terms, we perpetuate restrictive or even destructive patterns of perception and response – we strategize and make decisions based on a skewed reading of ourselves, the terrain, and other stakeholders.

If, with Ms. Ralby’s expert guidance, we identify, map, accept, and master the fourchotomies restricting our range of vision and action, we achieve a new agility and a fresh sense of our options moving forward.

For example, the dichotomy analytical/irrational seems simple enough – but it isn’t, really, because we can easily conflate those two qualities with others that inhabit the same fourchotomy. Though fourchotomies are always specific to people and situations, the resulting one might look like this:

Analytical Irrational
Obsessive Intuitive

In this case, the negative aspect of being analytical is being obsessive; the positive aspect of being irrational is being intuitive. The question is how the people involved define and project these terms. In other words, what do they call what they’re doing? It is entirely possible to conflate being analytical with being obsessive, or being irrational with being intuitive. You might view someone as obsessive when they think of themselves as analytical. You might see yourself as intuitive, but someone else might regard you as irrational.

This lack of clarity, which arises from how we attach to or identify with one or more of those qualities, can result in miscommunication, misapprehension of the situation or players involved, and poor decision-making. Getting outside this box – “off the grid,” as Ms. Ralby says – requires courage, candor, and expert guidance. Honesty is essential here: our attachments are blinders, and unless we are willing to see and name them, we will never expand our vision.

The fourchotomy is therefore not simply a fix, but rather an essential tool for understanding ourselves, our situations, and the people with whom we are interacting. It can be applied in any scenario, at any scale, involving any set of stakeholders – even within our individual personal and professional development.

The fourchotomy has proven its effectiveness over the years at individual, corporate, and international levels. It is a genuinely transformative tool.