Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Death Star wasn't Agile – and other Imperial failings …

This started as a joke I put up on Twitter, but the more I thought about it, the more I feel how we could learn a bit from the Empire, by looking at how they run projects, and how not to fail like that in our teams.

1)  Death Star Vs Alderaan

The Death Star is a planet killing ultimate weapon.  Woot!  And part way through Star Wars IV A New Hope, it appears above Alderaan, and blows it to smithereens.  

This Governor Tarkin claims this is the first demonstration of it's firepower.

Now if this was a truly Agile project, then in the first part of the film, the Death Star would have gone around blowing up an asteroid first, then a small moon, before moving onto Alderaan, to effectively show the capability of it's destructiveness in a couple of iterations.

Okay so the Death Star worked - but what if it hadn't?  Instead of feared throughout the galaxy it'd have been on the "and finally" section of the news.

2)  Getting the Death Star working

There is a gap of 20 years between the films Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.  In A New Hope it's said that the Death Star is only just operational.

And yet in Revenge of the Sith, the Death Star is shown under construction – that means they took 20 years to finish it and work the bugs out of the system!

Ever heard of deadlines?  C'mon we've got a galaxy to run here!

3)  Blowing Up The Death Star

The plans of the Death Star appear in the second film, Attack of the Clones.  In A New Hope, the Rebel Alliance get a hold of them, find a weakness (the exhaust vent leading to the main reactor) and attack it.

Yes – it took over 20 years to get the Death Star working, but they kept to the original plans – they never went “wait a moment ...” and thought of a better way?

4)  Stand-Up Meetings

The Empire never got the hang of stand up meetings.  Look at this – only Darth Vader is getting into the spirit of it.  And even then he ends up force-choking another member.  Which is a novel way to keep meetings from over-runing.

5)  Armour Plated Solutions

In the Battle of Hoth the AT-AT walkers won victory over the Rebels landspeeders.  Ish.

The AT-ATs were better armed and armoured.  They won, they took out the bases reactor and shields.

But they were also very slow.  By the time they got to the reactor, the Empire had given their competition the Rebel Alliance enough time to get ahead of them and move on to a new base.

Had the Empire used landspeeders themselves, they could have quickly taken out the reactor, and wiped out the Rebels there and then.

6)  Embracing Failure

No-one in the Empire really learns from failure – as they often end up being force-choked to death.

This is particularly bad as sometimes the one to blame for Luke Skywalker getting away is Darth Vader himself.  Poor management.

7)  Hoping the Little Problems go away

On Endor, the Empire was plagued by little fury pests.  Rather than deal with them decisively, the stormtroopers just hoped they'd go away and not bother them.

In the end those pesky Ewoks ended up ganging up and becoming a giant problem which brought down the Empire.

When you can, exterminate those Gremlins before they gang up on you!


  1. Brilliant.

    One note for the first point, the iteration demos of the Death Star. Maybe George Lucas just has decided to not put it into the movies, while it was actually tried out during the first 20 years.

    In the end it would have been boring to see a death star fighting asteroids in a scifi movie.

    Just a reminder. :)

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