When Disney paid $4 billion for Lucasfilm three years ago, it was surely only a matter of time before Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill would be donning leathers and lightsabres again, due to return to a long time ago in a galaxy far far away…
And the latest instalment in the franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, already looks set to be the biggest grossing film in history. Its estimated $200 million budget was already offset before ticket sales began, by deals from manufacturers of make-up, cereal and macaroni cheese (according to The Times).
But apart from extravagant marketing strategies – see Nelson’s Column lit up like a giant lightsabre — and widening revenue streams (fans can buy everything from lightsabre chopsticks to a Death Star waffle maker), what do modern businesses and business people have to learn from the new film?
May the force be with you…
Readers may recall from the original Star Wars films, the character of Yoda – perhaps the world’s most famous leadership guru, complete with such classic quotes as ‘do or don’t do, there is no try’, and ‘may the force be with you’.
And the new film is not without a little advice for its viewers. The new evil power of the dark side, the so-called ‘First Order’ has risen, ruled by a Maoist ‘Supreme Leader’ with a new Darth Vader apprentice called Kylo Ren. Indeed the First Order typifies everything that an organisation should not do if it wishes to be successful. Here are some don’ts:
- Create an ‘atmosphere of fear’. Finn begins the film as a Stormtrooper but will leave the organisation, realising that the gratuitous use of the stick does not make for a particularly enjoyable work environment.
- Give employees numbers rather than names. Finn is only a number before he is given his name by a rebel pilot.
- Torture competitors for information. We see Kylo Ren use the force to torture a rebel pilot as he seeks to extract information about the whereabouts of an important map fragment.
- Strangle employees. Enough said.
And what about some things to do? The light side of the force is of course associated with things such as calm, friendship, kindness, and courage. But the heroine of the film, in the form of British actress Daisy Ridley’s Rey, is remarkable above all for her resilience in the face of challenges. And in addition to the ‘lead by example’ approach of Rey and the Rebel forces, here are a a few dos:
- Be resilient in the face of challenge. No matter if she is locked up and being tortured, facing down the evil Kylo Ren, or escaping from Stormtroopers, Ridley’s character Rey remains strong and focused throughout.
- Work as a team. Everyone helps each other in the Star Wars films. And as brave a fighter as she is, Rey depends on the support of Finn (the escaped Stormtrooper), Han Solo and Chewbacca.
- Help others to believe in themselves — like Rey helps Finn.
- In difficult times remind yourself and others around you of the goal. The characters are always reminding themselves and each other of the value of what they are doing.
- Throw yourself in at the deep end. Finn says he can help the Resistance destroy the shield generator of the First Order’s evil new super-weapon, despite having only been a sanitation officer on the battle station. Han Solo is incredulous.
- Trust your friends. As always in Star Wars, success depends on the ability of the heroes to trust each other to fulfil their assigned tasks without constant monitoring.
- Never give up. The darkness can never extinguish the light, no matter how bad it seems.
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