Friday, February 10, 2012

Political Lessons From Princess Leia


PiedPatter (aka/ @DefenseGirl35 on Twitter) is one of the most brilliant conservative bloggers on the planet.  That isn’t my opinion by the way – it just plain fact.

She has written a brilliant piece that she has allowed me to repost on PolitiJim.  It is about micro managing and the lessons we can learn from how Princess Leia. (You had me at “space bikini.”)  Now, she is too savvy and urbane to out rightly make comparisons with real political figures – but I’m just a dirty bird without the same nuance. First her post – then my punditry.

Leadership Issues Plagued Rebel Alliance, Prolonged War

February 9, 2012 by piedpatter

Ron Ashkenas writes in his article Why People Micromanage, “Over the past few decades I’ve worked with hundreds of managers, and many complain that they work for micromanagers. But strangely I don’t recall anyone who ever admitted to being one.”  The problem with this approach is beautifully articulated in this Avoiding Micromanaging quote, “Micromanagers take perfectly positive attributes – an attention to detail and a hands-on attitude – to the extreme. Either because they’re control-obsessed, or because they feel driven to push everyone around them to success, micromanagers risk disempowering their colleagues. They ruin their colleagues’ confidence, hurt their performance, and frustrate them to the point where they quit.”  This was really what lay at the heart of the Rebel Alliance’s failure to secure victory for so long.  A micromanager whose management style eventually drove Han Solo to quit.  If you look at the organizational chart below (not comprehensive), you can see there was only one person in charge of like everyone, and it made no logical sense to have her in charge.

Why was Princess Leia briefing X-Wing fighters about the tactical assault on the Death Star? (h/t Family Guy for pointing out the absurdity).  Was she a pilot?  Did she pick off rat thingy’s in Beggars Canyon back home that weren’t much bigger than 2 meters? No. She was adopted by some Senator and handed the title of Princess, and it was never made clear why. (Don’t send emails explaining how this happened, I don’t really care)

Had the rebels had a better sense of who was in charge, they would have found the confidence they needed to succeed and push through to victory sooner.  One author said it this way, “Poor organization structure and work processes (in other words poor organization design) stop many organization’s from achieving high performance. Unfortunately many leaders think of organization design as something done by the H.R boffins.”  Perhaps Princess Leia felt the same way, she would just let the boffins take care of the rebel’s performance issues.  Or maybe she simply failed to see her role in the problem.  Whatever the reason, the question remains, why the hell was she in charge?

Let’s now take a look at the Empire.  You’ll recall they had some strategic victories against the rebels, Hoth not the least of which.  But why should it be that they had such marked successes?  They were after all evil.  Well, they had some distinct advantages, the Death Star for one.  But the also had an impressive organizational structure, where the chain of command was clearly defined.  See below:

Unless you were stupid or dead, no one could have been confused by this.  It was simple and straightforward.  The other advantage was the ability of the Emperor to delegate responsibility to Darth Vader.  He new the dark side of the Force was strong with Vader, this skill set allowed the Emperor to build the evil bond of trust which was so vital to the mission of crushing the rebels.  Finally, the Death Star was tidy.  Kyra Sheahan puts it’s this way, “Working in an office environment that is neat and tidy will reduce the amount of time you spend hunting files down, and increase your ability to get things done.”  The insistence of the leadership to keep the Death Star clean was evident on all levels, from the garbage dumping before jumping into hyperdrive, to cleaning up dead generals after Vader Force choked them.

PrincessLeiaBikni In the end, the rebels were victorious.  Their righteous cause and huge assist from Wookies and teddy bears could not be thwarted no matter how illogical and token Princess Leia was as a leader.  She did unfreeze Han Solo and kill Jabba the Hut in a space bikini, to her credit, but her failure to step out of the way, only prolonged the war unnecessarily.  Had she done so, we may have all been spared the Ewoks. 

Why even have those things?


Suffice it to say I’m a smart enough bird not to answer PiedPatter’s question with the obvious male perspective of women and instructions.  Yes. I am too smart to even mention that.

But it is clear this point has been exemplified in our own political experience in both extremes.  Many books have been written that in addition to Jimmy Carter’s lacking qualities of leadership and economic policy, he had a propensity to get involved in minutia.  This not only kept him from seeing problems and directions from a much higher perspective – it narrowed and slowed the process of OTHER decision making waiting for him to weigh in on every cotton picking thing.

It has been reported at The Ulstermann Report and elsewhere that the our current White House occupant is quite the opposite. He often doesn’t begin his day until 10:30 am and quits at 4 pm.  Both, equally disastrous. 

Which leads me to speculate about the management styles of our current Presidential nominees.  We have a pretty good track record from which to judge two of the candidates.  Romney clearly has had a professional work ethic as a Venture Capitalist, Olympic Turn Around Specialist, and Governor.  Gingrich was planning the strategy and operational reform of Congress 14 years prior to actually taking it over.  In fact, he had already assigned legislation authoring to lame duck committees upon the GOP victory so that they could begin passing 9 major legislative reforms the first day.  Both of these seem more than competent in this regard.

We really don’t have much to go on with Paul or Santorum.  Paul has run a small medical practice and Santorum a PAC and charity, but both are relatively unknown.  It is interesting that throughout the debates Rick and Ron center more of their arguments (as you would expect legislators to do) around policies or laws, while Newt and Mitt encompass more operational implementations around their proposals – not just “positions.”

This should make a priority area of focus in the upcoming weeks as the nomination nears.

--Original article posted at PiedPatter’s blog. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to her blog.


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