One of my favorite movies was the “Magnificent Seven”, an American Western film which was directed by John Sturges. It is a story is about a group of seven American gunmen who have been hired to protect a small agricultural village in Mexico from a group of marauding bandits. Every time I hear that wonderful music, I can picture Yul Brynner riding across the screen to help the under-privileged Mexican village. You might be asking why that old movie classic would be a topic for a Human Resource blog.
Well, I think the storyline of the “Magnificent Seven” provides the business owner of today with some unique perspectives on how to build their business. Each one of the 7 was the ultimate in what goes into running a business – at least in my mind’s eye. Let’s look at them in greater detail.
Strength: The movie was all about strength – the strength of the bandits as they intimidate the village; the strength of the seven as they faced a larger force; and even the strength of the village as they learned to take care of themselves. Business owners must have strength too. They often face larger forces (competition) and find they must exhibit strength in dealing with the day-to-day issues that take time, money and energy. Business owners must provide the strength to their employees to be better trained and supported as they move through the day.
Curiosity: The bandits were surprised and confused as to why the seven would defend a small village and the village was curious about the seven and why too they were there to help them. As a business owner, curiosity is also important. You must be willing to look at new products, new ideas, and question old functions if they are not working adequately. Curiosity keeps the business viable and on the cutting edge. It encourages growth and change.
Greed: Of course the bandits in the movie were greedy – but so too were the gunfighters. They originally agreed to defend the village because they thought there would be treasure to share. As a business owner you must tap into the greed as you want to make a profit and to be able to support yourself and your employees. Greed isn’t always bad – it is a part of the process and is necessary. You just have to recognize that greed isn’t everything.
Determination: The bandits were determined to chase the seven away, the seven were determined to save the village, and the village was determined to survive – so determination is a major ingredient. It is also an important ingredient in a business. You must have been determined to take that initial step in starting a business and determination is necessary to carry the business forward through good times and bad times. Without determination, there probably wouldn’t be a business.
Fear: The villagers were of course fearful, but in the end the bandits were fearful. One of the gunfighters was fighting fear and in the end was able to conquer the fear (even at the cost of his life). Is fear a part of the business culture? Sure it is. You are afraid you won’t make the big sale, or that the product you ordered won’t arrive in time or won’t be good enough. Fear is a big part of the business scene – it is what you do with that fear that can make your business work. I think a business needs to acknowledge the fear factor and always be conscious of the fact that there may be problems ahead – be prepared to address them.
Teamwork: Teamwork was a major force of the “Magnificent Seven” – the seven gunfighters working as a team to thwart the bandits against overwhelming odds, and the villagers learning to work as a team to defend themselves. Without teamwork, a business has a real hard time succeeding. Management and employees must work together to satisfy the customer. There are no silos in a business – everyone must work together to get the job done.
Planning: The seven gunfighters were able to put together a plan to defend the village. Without a plan or a map for defense, chaos would have prevailed and the bandits would have won. Businesses must have a plan(s). Plans could include marketing, training, strategy, financial, etc. but plans are a feature that must be in place for a business to succeed.
Bottom line is that the movie, “The Magnificent Seven”, was an all time favorite and when you hear the music you know immediately what the movie was about. I would hope that when people see my company logo or hear my company name they too will bring to mind a great business with service and solutions for the business community.