Five Lessons IT Managers Can Learn From Star Wars

It's Force Friday and that means we get to celebrate all things Star Wars. But as well as some awesome new toys from Sphero and the revelation of new details of the upcoming movie, The Last Jedi, it's a chance to look back and pick up a few tips for successfully managing IT in this galaxy.

Single points of failure

It's almost like no-one at the ATO watched Star Wars: A New Hope and learned about single points of failure.

The entire schtick about the exhaust port and the Death Star is a perfect lesson in making sure complex systems can't be brought down by a single point of failure. Sure, we learned in Rogue One that the exhaust port was backdoor installed by a disgruntled employee, but the fact remains a major system was brought to its knees by a single flaw.

Look at systems with a critical eye and really think about what would happen when a single component fails.

Access control matters

Seriously - how stupid was The Empire? R2-D2 was able to plug in to access ports left, right and centre to access data and control systems such as waste control and security. And not only could R2-D2 connect but there was no authentication and data was seemingly unencrypted. How else could the schematic for the Death Star be exfiltrated so easily?

Every security consultant on the planet will tell you that once the bad guys have physical access to your systems that almost all security bets are off. Authentication, phsycal access controls and encryption are your friends.

Listen to the experts

No manager can know everything that's going on. Even when Grand Moff Tarkin was told of a potential flaw that could lead to disaster, he refused to listen to his experts and take their advice.

Good managers recruit people that complement their strengths and weaknesses. And they check their egos at the door so they can accept advice.

While it's true that good leaders have to make decisions, they do so by listening to those around them and asking questions.

Deliver quick wins

In Return of the Jedi, we learn that the second Death Star, despite looking incomplete, is fully armed and operational.

Major IT projects need useful deliverables along the way in order to prove value. With the second Death Star, it first became a military base from which ships could be launched, then it became a starship and planet destroyer even though non-essential sections of the space station were incomplete.

Too bad they didn't learn the "single point of failure" lesson. On the upside, at least they did something about border security by having the station's shield controlled from the surface of Endor.

Great teams are not homogenous

The feisty princess, the stuck up protocol droid, the wide-eyed hero, a scruffy rogue, the muscle and the loveable yet cheeky robot. Could you imagine a more motley crew? Yet, despite their differences, they all bring different strengths to the team and complement each other's weaknesses.

The sum of the team is far greater than its constituent parts.

In contrast, the Emperor really only has Anakin/Vader - someone he has moulded in his own image.

When you hire staff for your team, look for people that complement each each other when it comes to skills and temperament. In a team of clones, you'll not only amplify your strengths, you'll also amplify your weaknesses.


Comments

    I think you missed the biggest one.

    Power / Control Systems always must be placed on a gantry above a immense drop, preferably with very little concern for OH&S.

    Last edited 01/09/17 12:50 pm

    Five Lessons IT Managers Can Learn *From* Star Wars

    Lesson 6: proof reading is important ;)

      I love that they corrected the article title, but the URL still says form.

    How about motivation? When Vader turns up in Return of the Jedi to find out why the Death Star rebuild is behind schedule, the Project Manager was simply going to bitch about not having enough resources until he is informed the Emperor is coming and suddenly he is motivated to complete the project on time.

      Absolutely. Nothing like management oversight to help get a project on track

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