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Star Wars: A New Hope - 3 ways a project manager could have saved the Death Star

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Recently, I re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy and whilst watching A New Hope, I was struck by the project management failures — in this blog I propose three ways that a project manager could have saved the Death Star. 

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Darth Vader oversees the construction of the Death Star — a powerful superweapon capable of destroying entire civilisations. Working for the Empire as the Project Director, Darth Vader is ultimately responsible for the successful completion and operation of this mighty battle station. The planet-sized project has a scope of gargantuan proportions, no doubt an enormous budget, and a multitude of dependencies. Darth Vader will need to flex some serious project management muscle if he is to complete the Death Star on time and within budget. Unfortunately for the Empire, the rebel resistance is on a mission to destroy the battle station and bring peace to the galaxy.  

For those who have seen A New Hope — you know how this story ends… The Death Star is destroyed by the skill, courage, and determination of the resistance fighters as they discover and exploit a critical design flaw. Drawing on principles of project management, I propose three ways that Darth Vader could have protected the Death Star and crushed the rebel resistance. 

1. Implement robust knowledge management 

As the film opens, we learn that the Empire’s blueprints for the Death Star have fallen into the hands of the resistance after being stolen by spies. Considering the significance of the Death Star project, it’s surprising that the Empire didn’t implement a more robust knowledge management system to keep their plans secure. This failure in information security provides the rebels with an opportunity to identify a weakness in the construction of the Death Star and launch an assault to exploit it. When managing your project, remember to implement effective knowledge management; classify your documents, password protect your files and restrict access to sensitive information. 

2. Ensure effective prioritisation 

After stealing the Death Star plans, the resistance learns that the Death Star is vulnerable to the nimble rebel starfighters because the Death Star lasers are too large to accurately target the agile fighters. This design oversight leaves a gaping hole in the defensive capabilities of the Death Star. Weapons capable of targeting the rebel starfighters should have been a ‘must have’ requirement for the project. When it comes to your project, consider whether you have effectively prioritised your requirements and are delivering the most important features first! 

3. Communicate an inspiring vision  

During the film, we learn that the Death Star is capable of destroying entire civilisations. Clearly Darth Vader must find it challenging to communicate such a reprehensible vision to his legions of stormtroopers. Laboring towards the destruction of civilisations is unlikely to foster a meaningful and motivating working environment. In turn, this is unlikely to provide stormtroopers with sufficient job satisfaction. Consider the vision for your project and ensure you communicate this to inspire your stakeholders and project team (as long as it doesn’t involve destroying planets). 

Ultimately, the Death Star crumbles as the rebels succeed in exploiting its design flaw. The destruction of the Death Star limits the power and influence of the Empire… For now. Keep an eye out for the next installment of the Star Wars Project Management series where I explore lessons learnt from the next film in the Star Wars trilogy — The Empire Strikes Back. 


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  1. Gareth Pugsley
    Gareth Pugsley 09 May 2024, 08:37 AM

    Having been nicked named Garth Vader by gredo from the film I would suggest the biggest pm issues was the lack of Blackswan/Grey rhino thinking. eg oh it could never happen. cost them two death starts with that thinking .lol