Sunday, February 23, 2014


Butch Cassidy, the outlaw bank robber from the old American West, and General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II – what could these two very different people have in common? Simple, they were both meticulous planners.

Cassidy and his gang robbed banks, lots of banks for years and years and always managed to get away clean. How did this do that? Great planning.

A few days in advance of the day planned for the robbery, Cassidy staged horses along his getaway route so his mounts would always be fresh. Many times of course law men and impromptu posies of armed men chased after Cassidy and the gang. But after a few miles of chasing at full gallop, their horses were exhausted and they had to stop and rest or turn back because the trail had gone cold.

It was the advance thinking and masterful pre-word that made it possible for Cassidy and the gang, on their fresh mounts, to elude capture time and time again. That took meticulous planning. By the way, Cassidy never shot anyone during the commission of his crimes either, meticulous planning again. 

Most people who robbed banks in the old west did so after a night of heavy drinking. It was a spur of the moment thing with no planning at all. Of course, being drunk while robbing a bank is not a recipe for success. Those unthinking bank robbers gave no thought to their getaway so most were quickly caught.

General Eisenhower once said, “Victory long term is about planning, constant planning and forever shifting planning.” And this, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Hey, that’s right. How many times in the operation of your business have you had a well thought out plan only to need to quickly abandon it because of changes you could not have foreseen. This happens right? Sure.

So like Butch Cassidy and General Eisenhower, plan, plan, plan, set goals, contrive strategy and implement it at all costs and with all your might. Just be aware that sometimes you will need to adjust and revise and start over in the midst of the action.

What if Cassidy’s carefully staged horses had gotten loose and run off? What would Butch and the boys have done then? We know all kinds of things go wrong in battle, and that solders always have a contingencies and plan B.

What’s the lesson? Simple: We need to be thoughtful, thorough and flexible in all our planning activities as we drive our enterprise and our lives toward the future. Life and business success requires that we do. 

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