Best known for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, General George Smith Patton was once famous for a phrase which has resonated through the work of all strategic planners. “Rommel, you magnificent bastard” he said, “I read your book!”
The context of this is best described as so:
Patton has just spent weeks studying the writing of his German adversary Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and is crushing him in an epic tank battle in Tunisia. Patton, sensing victory as he peers onto the battle field from his command post, growls, “Rommel, you magnificent bastard. I read your book!”
Planning is many things but above all else it is about, ‘Knowing’.
People don’t plan and they don’t want to, because it’s all too hard. They just don’t ‘know’ how, and even if they do they don’t know how to “read the book”.
Knowing your enemy, competitor, their movements, their pathway. Understanding their weapons, their products, the benefits. Understanding the territory, their prime market targets, their consumer behaviours, it’s all influential as to how you plan the war, the strategic marketing plan, the tactics and the way forward.
In writing a blog without the reality of understanding the hard grind of research in planning is to simply mislead rather than to inform. It would be so much easier for me to write a blog called, ‘Don’t bother planning it’s a load of Horse Manure’- It wouldn’t be right, but it would be easy.
Let’s all agree, planning is a hard grind, it commands a unique mind which is configurated by facts, knowledge and vision. And if you don’t have that thinking mind – don’t try it. Get someone who knows what they are doing and pay them to do it.
Field Marshalling the strategy is for skilled people. They possess the unique understanding and they’ll do it with less drama and greater success. They know the buttons to push, they know the roads to travel and they shorten the odds of failure.
As Patton read, ‘Infanterie Greift An” (Infantry Attacks,) written by Rommel in 1937. He knew his enemy would apply the principals of tank strategy and he was ready to counter and win. As he watched the North African division of Rommel’s army retreat, he knew the value of being the Chessmaster because he planned to win on the back of ‘knowing’.
If you haven’t read the Bastards book, don’t plan, and when you do – find the pathway and plan the hell out of everything you do.