As fun as it would be to geek out on deconstructing the socioeconomic intricacies and differences between the elected rule of the Old Republic against the totalitarian Galactic Empire propagated by the Sith Lord Palapatine, this article is not focused on the world of Star Wars. What this article is about is the incomprehensible and strange logic behind money and political decisions for storied franchises that drives commentaries like this:
- Why $1bn box office for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a massive failure for Disney
- Star Wars: Analysts reveal the REAL reason why Han Solo movie failed at the box office
- Has Disney’s “Star Wars” Acquisition Been a Failure?
Are these articles serious?
Unfortunately, that answer is yes even as unfathomably baffling as it may seem.
There appears to be a general consensus via media articles that the whole Star Wars universe is failing in some way. Financially? While somehow the Solo movie seems to have lost money while making $400 million worldwide, every other Star Wars movie is in the top 100 movies of all time box office receipts (including Rogue One currently coming in at #13 with $532 million domestic). So for me, as a fan, who will even very grudgingly embrace the travesty that was Jar-Jar Binks as part of the Star Wars canon, the logic behind negative articles for the franchise does not make any logical sense.
If we attempt to apply this same lens to a topic much closer to home for most of us we will find a topic that at times can seem as mystifying and opaque as the financial and negative perceptual drivers behind the supposed failures of one of the biggest franchises of all time: Office politics.
It is very easy to find exploratory and, unfortunately, cumulatively negative responses to this topic through some quick searching:
- The Truth About Workplace Politics — explores “the allocation of scarce resources ” in an organization
- Playing Office Politics Without Selling Your Soul — defines bad politics as “the wrangling, maneuvering, sucking up, backstabbing, and rumor mongering people use to advance themselves at the expense of other people or the organization“
- The Bad Guy’s (And Gal’s) Guide to Office Politics — uses a statement from Blaine Pardoe, author of Cubicle Warfare: Self Defense Strategies for Today’s Hypercompetitive Workplace that states: “Politics is a necessary evil…and often it’s just plain evil. Unfortunately, it’s also how things get done“
Great, so now not only has one of my favorite means of entertainment been spoiled by hateful online trolls I also have to spend a big chunk of my waking hours embroiled in a fight for my scarce resources playing this evil and soul-sucking game that by all accounts is not any fun to play.
Does it really need to be this way?
Last night I finally went to see the ultimate conclusion to the nine movie series, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. In researching the words I wanted to write here I looked up the movie on Rotten Tomatoes. It is currently sitting at a 54% Tomatometer for critics with a Critics Consensus statement of: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker suffers from a frustrating lack of imagination, but concludes this beloved saga with fan-focused devotion. Ugh!
How about a different statement from a huge, and unapologetic fan: The Rise of Skywalker manages to do something amazing: it delivers on the promise built up over nearly 43 years of movies. It was satisfying and heartwarming. It had all of the elements of a great movie. There are lightsaber battles and space combat aplenty. I am unashamed to say that the tears flowed as the love and friendship and goodness of people washed over me as I sat there in the theater saying goodbye to my heroes and friends from this saga.
I would also note that on the same Rotten Tomatoes page the audience score for this movie is 86%!
I wonder if movie critics, online trolls, and office politicians can ever allow themselves to feel the magic that I feel as a fan of these movies. These people share common traits. They generate emotion and messaging from a source of power and hunger for things that don’t really matter. They join the Dark Side and eschew friends and family and sometimes common sense in a grab for more resources, a bigger office, or the ability to commiserate with someone and then use that information to back stab them in the next round of office game of thrones.
Why can’t we all embrace the Light Side? To find enjoyment in what we do every day? To enjoy something for what it is, whether that is a movie or a challenge at work. Why can’t we embrace friendship and compassion for our fellow human beings and work together to make this shared existence a better place? If nothing else the Star Wars movies show over and over again that a shared faith in friendship always produces a better outcome as opposed to a singular drive for more power and control.
There will always be conflict and challenges in every workplace. As a jedi’s biggest challenge to avoid the dark side is fear itself, the same is true in an organization:
Workplace politics are a symptom of a sickness called rampant fear. When people don’t speak freely — notice I didn’t see “can’t speak freely,” because presumably they all have tongues and teeth — then fear is the prevailing energy, and nothing good can happen in the organization. When we pretend we don’t see the heavy smog of fear in an organization, we are part of the problem.
Liz Ryan from The Truth About Workplace Politics
So I am going to make my stand and take up the call for the Light. I ask that you join me as I put out the call to all offices and star systems in the galaxy. We are stronger together than the biggest sith, troll, or office bully. We can choose to interact with one another from a place of friendship and respect instead of fear and distrust. We can choose to not play by those rules. We will forge a new culture and society right now, today. Together, with each other, that is how we win.
May the Force be with you!
Originally published at kevinwanke.com on January 5, 2020. Kevin’s blog focuses on advice for new Engineers and for Engineering Managers.