Management Mistakes from The Dark Side

by Joe Lavelle on April 16, 2012

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There are plenty of great movies that focus on business or life in an office — Wall Street, Working Girl, Office Space just to name a few.  We all can find the movie character who annoys everyone from his cubicle or belittles everyone from her corner office to whom we can relate as we consider our own working environment.  But as I was catching up on my reading recently, I found a great article published recently that looks at the leadership lessons to be learned from a movie that seemingly has nothing to do with business and management — Star Wars!

For those of you who love the series and saw them during their original release and then the re-release and now anticipate seeing every 3-D version (seriously, is there a single movie out there that can resist the 3-D temptation these days?), you probably can think of parallels that the films offer to every aspect of our lives.  If you can’t quote every line from R2 D2 and don’t know the building specs of the Millennium Falcon, then perhaps you need some help fleshing out the comparisons.  Enter writer Alex Knapp and his great premise for a piece for Forbes magazine.

For example, the first mistake he mentions is building your organization around particular people instead of the broader institution or core mission for your company.  Knapp mentions that once the Emperor and Darth Vader are killed, the Empire is destroyed.  Don’t hinge all of your hopes on one or two people, but instead Knapp states that we should create an environment in which talent is being cultivated at all levels.

Knapp also asserts that you must have some tolerance for failure.  A guy makes one mistake and Darth Vader puts him in a fatal chokehold, creating a big hole in the organization.  If your employees are afraid of being choked by The Force, then they probably will hesitate to try new approaches or make suggestions that may in fact end up being of great benefit to the company.  And, if not, they can serve as a learning opportunity to do things better the next time.

The entire article is a great read . . . check it out!  And, if you’re a Star Wars fan, what are some other applications to the business world and career advancement that we can learn from a galaxy far, far away?

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