The Italian Job is one of my favourite feel-good films.
The tale of Charlie Crocker’s audacious plan to steal $4 million in gold bullion, whilst avenging the death of his friend Roger Beckermann at the hands of the Mafia, has many great ingredients. It has a stellar cast, simple but clever plot and wonderful script. Who can forget the line, “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”!
Businesses could learn much from Crocker’s leadership, as well as the meticulous planning and creative thinking that went into the preparation and execution of “The Job”. I’m struck in particular by two related components of the plan: one that is central to its potential success, and the other which ultimately causes its downfall.
Success through diversity. It’s important to remember that the film was made over fifty years ago, so would probably not pass muster against today’s benchmarks for political correctness, particularly Benny Hill’s Professor Simon Peach.
Within this context, however, diversity is critical in terms of the crew Crocker assembles. People are selected for the skills they can bring to the table, regardless of their age, ethnicity or background. The crew may not carry universal personal affection for one another, but Crocker makes it clear that they need to respect one another for the unique parts they will each play in the success of The Job.
Failure through lack of diversification. I am, of course, pre-judging here because The Italian Job is the definitive cliff-hanger, so we will never know what happened after Crocker uttered the words, “Hang on a minute, lads. I’ve got a great idea”.
What is clear, though, is that the risk of failure could have been dramatically reduced if the booty had been split into several different lots and moved back to Switzerland by different roads. Instead, Crocker & Co. put all their golden eggs in one bus, with disastrous consequences.
One fantastic movie, two great lessons.
“We are the wealth preservation society…”
Film poster © Paramount Films, 1969.