Star Wars and the seven guiding principles

A galaxy

ITIL® 4 is valuable for every industry, and no part of it is more universal than the guiding principles. These are about developing patterns of thinking that will lead to success in any endeavour.

In fact, the principles are so broadly applicable they are found everywhere, even in the world of television and film. For example, consider the climax of the original Star Wars movie: the assault on the Death Star, the Empire’s space station.

To defeat the Empire, the Rebel Alliance must penetrate the Death Star’s defences and fire proton torpedoes into a small thermal exhaust port. The resulting explosion would trigger a chain reaction and destroy the whole station. It’s an insane plan, but it’s their only hope.

Because they are under so much time-pressure, the Rebels’ plan makes extensive use of the principle start where you are. This is about using what you have. In this case, this means that the Rebels plan to use their tiny, manoeuvrable spacecrafts to negate the Death Star’s firepower. A small, fast attack will allow them to get close to the exhaust port.

As the Rebel squadron approaches the Death Star, their leaders give them orders. One group moves towards the target, while another cuts across to draw the enemy’s attention. They demonstrate perfect teamwork. These are indicators of the principle think and work holistically, which is about operating as one entity. Every part of the operation should coordinate with the rest.

The fight begins in earnest. Then, a warning comes in – danger! The Rebel base has seen Empire fighter ships on their monitors. This exchange of information is a great example of collaborating and promoting visibility.

In response to the warning, the Rebels adjust their strategies. They pair up, watching each other’s backs so they can intervene if someone gets into trouble. This is a demonstration of progress iteratively with feedback or working in the moment, reacting to new information, and adjusting tactics on the fly.

This tactic works well, and the Rebel squadron gains enough of an advantage to approach the exhaust port. Twice, they make an attack run, but they fail. They have time for one more assault. Luke Skywalker and two fellow Rebels accelerate. They are under heavy fire, and Luke frantically asks his android robot, R2-D2, to repair his stabilizer.

The Rebels use droids like R2-D2 as automated mechanics. They control the flight and power systems and perform emergency repairs. The Rebel Alliance know how to optimize and automate. Optimize and automate is about reducing waste and maximizing the use of technology. Other examples of automation include the Rebels’ visual scanners and computer targeting systems.

Soon, Luke’s wingmen are shot down, leaving him alone and in danger. He speeds forwards. The pressure is immense, the music mounts, the audience tenses.

Throughout the assault, the rebels remained focused on this one outcome. Focus on value is about knowing what you need to achieve and always keeping that goal in mind. The goal could be anything; the commitment is what matters.

Then, a disembodied voice echoes. It’s Obi-Wan Kenobi, whose consciousness was preserved in the Force, the galaxy’s life energy, after his death. He tells Luke to use the Force to guide him. Luke hesitates, but switches off his targeting computer.

Keep it simple and practical is about streamlining. Luke had already seen one set of torpedoes miss the target, even when guided by the computer. Knowing he could hit the exhaust port on his own, Luke chose the simplest solution.

He fires.

No spoilers—If you haven’t watched Star Wars yet, it’s about time.

Even with the best starting point, any endeavour can go awry if you make bad decisions, waste your resources, or forget your goal. These problems are universal. Do not let them disrupt your progress! For these ubiquitous problems, ITIL 4 has defined ubiquitous guiding principles: principles so universal that they apply even in a galaxy far, far away. And always remember: May the Force be with you.

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Comments

5 Sep 2020 [email protected]
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This is great Amy, thanks for brightening up my Saturday morning with the Star Wars references - and an informative blog.
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