Case study – wyatt earp

May 12, 2018 Management

There are many levels of importance to successful logistics with respect to operations and supply chain management. These range from efficiency and effective operations to focused strategy and planning. Our authors define operations management as the design, operation and improvement of the systems that create and the deliver the firms primary products and services (Jacobs & Chase, 2010). During the late 1800’s, Wyatt Earp was not only a legendary gunfighter and Marshal, he was a successful and innovative buffalo hunter.

Although his methods were unconventional compared to his counter-parts, he employed strategic, efficient, and well planned processes when hunting buffalo. His methodology was not only well defined it yielded more net revenue than any other method used by other hunters. At the age of 20 Wyatt Earp was considered to be “the best in the west” when referred to as a buffalo hunter. His unique approach was quite different than the other hunters. Wyatt had a clear understanding of how to efficiently operate and run his business of buffalo hunting.

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Other hunters would measure success merely by the number kills and the gross revenues received. However, Wyatt’s strategic approach to buffalo hunting was centered on maximizing net profits (after all hunting expenses are paid). Operations and supply chain management as defined by Jacobs & Chase (2010) is broken down into several components; planning, sourcing, making, delivering and returning. Interestingly, Wyatt Earp employed many of these principles as his standard of methodology when hunting.

This ensured the most efficient, cost effective method that would yield enough buffalo at the lowest possible cost. The planning component of operations and supply chain management focuses on the processes necessary to operate a given function. Additionally, the planner must anticipate a firm number of anticipated products regarding consumer demand using available resources in the most effective manner possible to ensure affordability and high net profits. Sourcing is considered as the selection of suppliers that deliver the actual end products.

Making the products involves the coordination of workers, materials and other resources necessary complete the product. Delivering is the function considered as the logistic processes such as the individuals who will actually move product from one location to the next. Returning refers to the handling of goods that are damaged or unsatisfactory to the consumer. Interestingly, Wyatt’s plan engaged several of these principles when hunting buffalo. He wanted to establish enough buffalo kills using nominal resources and alternative hunting methods than other hunters at the same time making larger net profits.

Most hunters would send out five or more wagons and several skinners whereas Wyatt would bring one wagon with four sound animals and one experienced skinner. The other hunters would employ a large number of individuals that had specific job functions and everyone typically refused to do a job that was considered below their level of dignity. In contrast, Wyatt’s expedition involved one highly trained skinner that Wyatt would assist in the skinning of the buffalo (of which was frowned upon in the 1800’s).

Profit sharing was different among the larger groups where the hunter would divide the earnings into two parts. One went to the hunter (expenses were taken from his share) and the other part would go to the skinner, drivers, and other men. Wyatt’s method was different as he preferred to take the expenses out of the entire gross earnings then split the revenue equally with his skinner. This ensured higher earnings for both of them with less effort and resources used.

Much like successful businesses that operate today, Wyatt engaged in various other strategic methods to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and value. He understood the big picture of all processes involved with buffalo hunting and saw the true value of his methodology and as a consequence recognized higher net profits. His efficiency was evident by the use of only one wagon, four horses, and one highly trained skinner. He demonstrated effectiveness by his unique method of hunting with a shotgun at much closer distances than the long range hunter.

The ability to locate higher quality buffalo was easier on foot rather than traveling behind a moving wagon that ultimately spooked the herd. Wyatt could rapid fire his shotgun whereas the other hunters could only reload 2-3 times before they were required to cool down the barrel. Wyatt used a breech loading gun that allowed him to rapid fire and be accurate within 100 yards like the long range rifleman. He used a unique approach of outsmarting the buffalo on foot rather than causing a stampede like the other hunters would.

The long range rifles used by other hunters were less accurate if used in succession (rapid firing) and the cost of ammunition was much greater than the shotgun used by Wyatt. Although other hunters would have greater numbers of buffalo killed or larger seasonal totals (Jacobs, 2010), Wyatt’s daily count of hides was well above average. The end result of Wyatt’s innovative methodology with respect to hunting buffalo was that at the end of the day he was more successful with achieving higher net profits than the average hunter.

Additionally, Wyatt’s methods were more practical in achieving sustainability. The methods used by other hunters created an uninspiring and lazy approach, if you will. Wyatt was the pioneer of sustainable, affordable, and efficient hunting that yielded better results and higher net profits. You might say he also had a sense of social and economic responsibility by his method of only killing and skinning enough buffalo that he and his skinner could handle (and not leaving hides on the range to be stampeded). Wyatt utilized many innovative and modern day logistical techniques in hunting buffalo.

His efficiency and effective operations as well as focused strategy and planning ensured higher net profits while using less resources. It was uncharacteristic during the late 1800’s for a hunter to skin his own kill; however, Wyatt Earp proved this mindset resulted in less effective and more costly hunting expeditions. And although his methods were unconventional compared to other hunters, his use of strategic, efficient, and well planned processes became legendary hunting methodology among his fellow hunters.

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