When we look at Star Wars and business we can see how it is a reflection of how we run our business today but what lessons can we learn?
How can I compete?
There are many phrases used within the Star Wars franchise that refer to life, love, and business that we can all relate to. After all, one of Princess Leia’s iconic lines is, “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” This is very true and is something we all face in business on a daily basis, especially when we look at the big corporations that seem to have a stranglehold over their customers and other businesses. Can we really go up against big corporations that can throw millions at marketing campaigns? The truth is you can, and you can win! After all, the Rebel Alliance eventually managed to halt and overthrow the Empire several times. Your strength is your uniqueness, your ability to react to situations as they arise, your ability is creative and proactive in your endeavours and go about your work unnoticed, where the Empire with its protocols and red tape seem to fail catastrophically without, it seems, anyone even doing a SWOT analysis or a risk assessment.
Invest in technology
You would expect that if The Empire were in a galaxy far, far, away, with the ability to travel at light speed, read others’ thoughts and have super-intelligent AI, their Cyber Security would be spot on. Well, it is apparently not. Where is their Cyber Security to prevent the plans from being taken from under their noses? And who allowed them to be signed off in the first place with a back door that leaves the whole system vulnerable. That’s almost as ridiculous as Facebook allowing full internal system access to anyone who types the password, Chuck Norris, hmmm… (yeah, they actually did that).
On a positive note, hang on to your USB drives. They are still used in other galaxies. We don’t have super-advanced AI like C3PO or R2D2 but that is what we are working towards. There are many ways in which, even now, you can secure your systems, your IP and sensitive business data. Simply invest in business-grade firewalled routers with multi-level access, and stop saving passwords to anywhere other than LastPass or another password manager. If you’re not confident in doing this yourself, ask a reputable Cyber Security specialist for their help. However, when they ask you for your WIFI password, stop and say NO, and instead, provide them with temporary or guest access (a good Cyber Security specialist will guide you through the steps of how to do this).
If the empire had taken some simple security steps, like don’t wear helmets all the time, maybe some simple facial recognition software would have been enough to thwart the Rebel Alliance attacks.
Use the force
The Force is a mysterious energy field that binds the galaxy together. Harnessing the power of the Force gives the Jedi, the Sith, and others who are sensitive to this spiritual energy, extraordinary abilities, such as levitating objects, tricking minds, and seeing things before they happen.
Having seen the film in 1978 it changed my world forever. Imagine being able to use the force, it would make you unstoppable. However, there isn’t a force…or is there? We, humans, are so clever that we make decisions daily without even knowing it. We suppress emotions and hide thoughts without even knowing why. I always remember my father walking out the front door and before closing the door came back in as he’d forgotten something. At that moment a tile came off the roof and landed where he had been just standing. We all know-how, on dates, you can instantly see if the person you are looking at is right for you. Your facial expressions give you away every time and there are certain expressions that we as humans have no control over. You will make these decisions in split seconds but then over-analyse and talk yourself out of them. Trust these first instincts, they will serve you right. The more experience you have of situations like this, the better you will become at spotting them; this is your force so use it wisely.
You can’t run a successful business on your own. You do need to recruit and delegate in order to gain more control over your empire. Due to unsuccessful recruitment drives, the Empire failed to employ enough staff willing to put their lives on the line for the emperor. Their strategy of creating clones that are more docile, and willing to carry out orders, is all well and good but, they are just creating an echo chamber of bad practice and social irresponsibility. Creating a clone army that looked and thought the same, and could be controlled by a higher power, may seem like a good idea but a successful business must be able to support individuality, creativity and leadership, otherwise, failure becomes inevitable.
But then again, The Empire didn’t get to that size without doing something right. Granted the board may have been set out for galaxy domination but the opportunities were wide and diverse. Sourcing and mining raw materials, manufacturing, outsourcing, construction, plumbing, electronics, the sciences, programming…these are a selection of the career opportunities available within The Empire. These careers and their earnings would have fed money back into the local economies inducing stability and security. Where The Empire failed was, they never really considered their carbon footprint with excessive use of carbonite and deforestation, or how much food would be needed to feed all those Stormtroopers?
Like all businesses, running The Empire comes with its tough decisions that others may not like or agree with but if you are being true to your values, good should win out in the end. It’s always important to remember that others are just like you and need your support and understanding in order to find their own fulfilment and sense of gratitude. Remember that your supply chain is key to your growth, and theirs, and help them look at ethical sourcing, taking care of their impact on the environment, as well as encouraging equality and diversity in the workforce. Help those up who need it and support those who need our help.
If Palpatine had really wanted to create a galaxy dominating empire, then he really should have considered how he developed the brand. There should have been a set of brand values that the Empire’s followers, and those they wish to convert, to believe in. I don’t remember a scene where those values are written on the walls or canteen areas extolling these values like, “Crush the rebellion” or “Change the gravitational balance of solar system – blow up a planet today”. As a brand development agency, we notice the use of colours and as you can see the empire has a lot of black, grey and white which is consistent with their identity and portrays that menacing look.
From a brand perspective both the Empire and the Rebellion really did get their logo design spot on, style of clothing, even down the weapons and accessories, entirely on brand. Even in a galaxy far, far away, brand development is key to any organisational growth and steering them on to success. What lets the Empire down is its values and brand story. They probably should have committed more time and funds to get this right brand story, marketing and PR.
Play the infinite game of life
Often, we see other companies that are bigger or create more exposure, as being competitors but this isn’t the case. There are no competitors, only other players with the infinite game of life. Targeting companies, you believe are bigger, have more social media presence or are recognised by your peers may sound great but there will be other companies looking at you the same way, as a target. The Empire and the Rebellion were always playing a zero-sum game. For them to win, there had to be a loser. In their own way, the Empire wanted to bring peace and order to the galaxy, but this was unachievable, as Palpatine had one great desire, power, which was egotistical but he believed this to be a greater good for all. The Rebellion also wanted peace but strove for it in their own way. They believed in the devolution of power, but this is also unachievable, as there would always be others who want more power for themselves. If they could only manage to work together, peace would be inevitable.
Palpatine genuinely thought that by building an empire throughout the galaxy he could control everyone. This was far from the truth and rather than just being able to rule the empire, he became embroiled in battles on many fronts. The ethos of The Empire was to bring order to the galaxy but with all these struggles nobody thought to consider that with help of the Ewoks the Empire would be overthrown. I think the moral of this story is that, as a business, you don’t see others as competition but players in the game of life that you can collaborate with to achieve your aims. While finding your calling in life, look for the good in people and help them up on the way through this journey. If you spend your time competing and watching what others are doing you will lose focus of what needs to be done yourself.
Remember everything you do is down to the choices you make, and you only ever have three choices, do it, don’t do it, ignore it! (although Yoda’s version is better…do or don’t do, there is no try.)
There are many more lessons that have been incorporated into the Star Wars films and like many of the people who were at the right age to see Star Wars, first time around, at the cinema…it changed my life forever.
Image credit nnerto – stock.adobe.com