Star Wars: Galactic Constraints Of The Empire: Sounds Like Supply Chain Management

Using some ideas from stories on “business constraints” we find some areas of intersection between Star Wars and Supply Change Management:
(1) Business Model deficiencies
(2) Processes/Organisational structures
(3) Leadership
(4) Culture


If you have a wrong business model, you will fail. If you have a wrong strategy in place, you will ultimately be doomed. Look at Apple and Samsung versus Nokia. Look at what happened to Eastman Kodak’s “FILM” Business Model.

In Star Wars, the Galactic Empire and the Emperor had a strategy to wipe out the rebellion and establish themselves as the ultimate Lord. Their business model was a simple one – build the Death Star and use it to wipe out rebel planets. The Empire spent countless resources, including crazy amounts of manpower, money and effort to build the Death Star. After successfully destroying only one planet, the Rebels destroyed the Death Star. After the destruction of the first Death Star, neither the Emperor nor Darth Vader decides to relook at their “failed” business strategy. Instead, they decided to rebuild a bigger, newer Death Star. Again, the Rebels managed to destroy it.


One of the biggest mistakes organisations make is to focus on people.
The key to successfully getting your employees to high performance is to focus on “process”. You can still care and love them, but your emphasis must be on building institutional processes. One of the biggest mistake the Empire and its leadership made was to rely on their “top talent”. This was also the same issue that Enron had. They hired really smart people and focused entirely on these “special” people making the organisation great. Initially, Enron had stellar performance. But like the Empire, it ultimately blew up. In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Emperor disbands the Galactic Senate and handpicks a few regional governors. By Episode VI, even those are gone and only Darth Vader remains as his bastion of leadership. Mentoring was a key part of the process. Yoda explains the mentoring process of the Alliance as “always two there are, no more, no less; a master and an apprentice.” Everything has to be a process. Processes and structures are key to ensuring a high performance organisation. Just ask Darth Vader and he will share the perils of focusing solely on people.


When I talk about leadership being a constraint, it not only means the quality of leadership at the top of the organisation but also the quality of leaders all across the different layers. If you glance at the Empire’s leadership, there were very little processes involved in building the leadership DNA. It was pretty much Darth Vader and the Emperor who ruled (after they wiped out all other leaders along the way). The Jedi Rebels, on the other hand, not only had a leadership development process, but their leadership continuality was being built at all levels. When there was a gap, as we saw in Episode IV, Master Yoda steps in to train young Luke Skywalker. The Jedi Council itself spent an enormous amount of time on leadership development issues. Even at the stage of young Padawans (akin to management trainees at organisations), the Council reviewed each applicant and measured progress. And there is a clear mentor-mentee system to ensure all young Jedi are given leadership exposure and coaching. In Episode I: Phantom Menace, young Obi-Wan is sent by the Council on a diplomatic mission to Naboo accompanied by his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. If you look at all the top organisations in the world, a key part of their success is leadership. Great leaders and managers are needed at every organisational level. It is very hard work to develop and grow leaders at each level.


The hardest part of any change initiative is to ensure it becomes part of the organisational DNA. It requires cultural alignment. People and organisations are creatures of habit, and changing habits is harder than changing structures or systems. Cultural impediments:
(a) Lack of trust or accountability between groups, including turf issues or internal competitiveness.
(b) An “observer-critic” culture that kills new ideas or a culture reluctant to accept new ideas.
(c) Groups formed under the protection of a politically connected individual which distances themselves from your initiative.
Your organisational culture is constantly evolving. If you are not intentionally designing it, someone else will.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Read More








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