I recently watched one of my favorite World War II movies, A Bridge Too Far. It is based on the book by the same name written by Cornelius Ryan. It’s the story of one of the most disastrous losses experienced by the Allied Forces in WWII: Operation Market Garden. I’ve read the book and watched the movie several times. Both are exciting, with the book being more thought-provoking since it gives much more detail and context to the events surrounding the battle. Although I feel you should read the book before you see the movie, the movie captures the lessons to be (hopefully) learned.

What are the key management mistakes the Allies made?

  • Not gathering enough intelligence. And worse, ignoring of some of the intelligence gathered because it potentially delayed the Allies plans. ¬†Egos got in the way of reality. Great examples of due negligence. Sound familiar in your business and life?
  • Tolerance for Nasty Politics. The Allies were coming off a number of victories in Europe. There was overconfidence on the parts of certain generals. Expectations were high. Bold promises were made. Information was not shared and/or ignored. Challenges to thinking and plans for the battle were not tolerated. Teamwork at high levels was scarce. Reputations and glory were on the line. Ring a bell?
  • Not having back-up or exit plans. Here again, a string of victories led to overconfidence and a sense of infallibility. When bad luck on a number of fronts hit, lack of planning for contingencies compounded the Allies’ problems. How many cases of this have we seen in the past few years?
  • Not listening to the people who would be actually on the front lines fighting the battle. What would they know?

Every time I’ve watched movie I’ve come away with a “Note to Self” idea.

A great contingency entertainment film to have with you the next time your delayed at O’Hare, LaGuardia or SFO.