Great Plans That Didn't Work

Humans are big on planning. Plans are definitely a good thing – they keep us organized, help us to budget, and get us to think about priorities. If only, if only they all turned out well. Maybe you remember the old Robert Burns poem, To A Mouse, and the famous line:

The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,

Taking a riff from the Scots poet, let’s look at a couple of great plans that went “agley.”


Winston Churchill’s Trenching Machine

Winston Churchill's Trencher

Winston's prototype was nicknamed "Nellie"

Churchill was always an idea man. After the horrible trench warfare of WWI and literally hundreds of thousands killed in “no man’s lands” between the enemy trenches, Churchill came up with a plan. With the advent of the second World War, Churchill anticipated similar fighting in the fields of France and commissioned a project to build a large trencher, dubbed “Cultivator No. 6,” that could provide protection for troops and tanks on the battlefield. A single prototype was built and named “Nellie.”

Nellie ran on tracks and could cut a trench 7’ 6” wide and over 8’ deep. The prototype was tested successfully, but the German “blitzkrieg” demonstrated quickly that trench warfare was unlikely to be a feature of the new conflict. Nonetheless, the determined Churchill pushed the project through the early years of the war. He mentions the project only briefly in his memoirs, with the statement, "I am responsible but impenitent".

Henry Ford’s Industrial Utopia

Ruins of Fordlandia

Ruins of Fordlandia (2005 Photo)

In 1928, Henry Ford struck a deal with the Brazilian government that granted a Ford subsidiary use of 3900 square miles of land on the banks of the Rio Tapajós. Rubber for automobile tires was in high demand and Ford intended to use his modern methods to increase production. Fordlandia, a pre-fabricated industrial town was installed on the site and the Ford Motor Company instituted restrictive rules and regulations for employees who lived in American styled housing constructed in the compound.

Unfortunately, Ford’s agricultural experts didn’t know much about agriculture in the tropics. They planted the rubber trees in orchards, where they were easy prey for blight and bugs. The employees didn’t appreciate hamburgers, strict working hours, or a prohibition on alcohol. They revolted in 1930.  Henry Ford never visited Fordlandia, and the endeavor never produced. It was sold by his son at a loss of $20 million in 1945, after the invention of synthetic rubber.

Planning that Works: Include Print

Gutenberg Bible

One of Gutenberg's Bibles

Here’s a plan that worked. In 1456, Johannes Gutenberg produced the first Bible printed with movable type. Gutenberg printed only between 150 and 180 Bibles in his days, but since then, the Guiness Book of World Records estimates that over 5 billion Bibles have been produced.

Print is a demonstrated winner. Marketers, businesses, and organizations continue to favor print for one simple reason:

People like Print

Print is tangible, durable, shareable, and it works well in combination with online communications efforts. Any way you cut it or tear it, print should be part of your communications plans for 2016.

Call Sphinx Business Solutions If you’d like to discuss ideas, or click the banner ad below for more information and a free gift to keep you on track in 2016.

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Photo Credit: Wikimendia Commons