* 'Special Edition' (Formerly '9 things' - meddled with and updated since Last Jedi!!)
As it’s May the 4th and a large proportion of our team are self-confessed Star Wars geeks, we had some fun collating the business lessons Star Wars has to offer…
Right, let's PUNCH IT...
IV: Surprise people with something new and take a risk… It’s well documented that George Lucas was being pretty out there with this gritty, spiritual, space opera idea and subject to many vocal detractors. However, his timing was right, he disrupted the whole market and gained a huge legion of fans/customers.
V: It’s all about the team- Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie et al. get great results, have fun and you want to be part of their gang. They’re not perfect but they get on a mission, play to their strengths and carry each other through. It’s this camaraderie that’s at the heart of the success of the original trilogy. The prequels substituted team spirit with politics… not so inspirational or aspirational!! T. May and J. Corb action figures anyone?
VI: It REALLY helps to know what people are thinking. OK, so the Jedi mind trick is beyond most of us but there are other ways. Gathering honest uninhibited thoughts and feedback at every opportunity on your products or business is vital (shameless plug alert- the only one I promise). This is what Vevox is designed to enable organisations to do. You can make better decisions when you open the channels of communication and hear every voice.
I: Get the right talent… one ill-fitting team member can drag the whole thing down…. ‘Sorry Mr Binks, nice talking, but on reflection I’m not sure you are fit for this project.' If only it had played out this way…
II: Don’t use technology for the sake it. Adding gimmicky technical wizardry or features just because you can might actually make a product too complicated or detract from the value to the user. Ref.- Episodes 1 to 3. (In contrast the digital Governor Tarkin in Rogue 1 is awesome)
III: Build a strong brand, and reflect it in EVERYTHING you do and produce. A strong brand can carry you through a few wobbles, and customers will tolerate the odd misfire if you’re honest with them (a theory currently being tested to the limit by Rian Johnson!), but take it for granted and trust can quickly be lost. Most brands wouldn’t have survived what the prequels did.
VII: Review and re-release. You can always go back and fix stuff later as technology advances or the markets demands it. OK, this might work in business- a slightly contentious issue when it comes to Star Wars. Opinions are mixed on whether ‘Special editions’ drew the right balance between optimisation and meddling… Max rebo band anyone?!
However… Sometimes it's best to take what you have learnt, draw a line under an old product and start again. Since the Force Awakens…Star Wars is back on top with regards to brand AND product (Ok, some would disagree product wise since Last Jedi, but let's not spoil my blog narrative) and the future looks pretty secure…
3.5: You need the plans! The rebel fleet of Y-wings and X-wings would have been no match against the Death Star and imperial ships without them. It only took 2 proton torpedoes fired by 19 year old Skywalker to blow the whole thing to dust! Additional lessons, the competition may not be strong as they appear, small can beat big!
VIII: You can’t please ‘em all. Try to, and you risk things ending up bland and pleasing no one. Rian Johnson took risks and pushed the franchise forward accepting that it might not please everyone. Even Mark Hamill struggled with Luke’s direction to start with. The result… despite being regarded as sacrilege by some hard core fans, the Last Jedi received huge critical acclaim, is loved by many fans and stormed it at the box office.
3.?!: Make sure your product solves a real problem for your customers. Despite the brand power of Star Wars, the hype for the Solo spin just wasn't there. The problem… We already knew the ending… he’s the charismatic bad-ass that shoots first. Do we really care what made him this way?? Doesn’t an air of mystery in fact actually add to his character. We just didn't need it.
IX: Build a vision for the future, share a little and let your customers be as excited as you… Now, we don’t sell what we don’t have, but we do share where we are going. Star Wars are great at drip-feeding just enough information to keep us interested. The Episode 9 trailer is out, we have a title, and we're as excited as ever... roll on December...
Follow these tips and the force will be with your business… Always…
Bonus tip for office sharers: Eliminate thieving of company milk by dyeing it blue!
Note: If everything in here makes total sense then congratulations you are equal or likely surpass our office Star Wars nerdery. If it doesn’t, don’t sweat it, you probably have more friends and get out more!
Peter Eyre Managing Director for Vevox, the live polling and Q&A app that’s transforming learning and meetings worldwide. Formerly MD for engagement tech specialists Lumi, in Australia then the UK. Passionate about tech, SaaS, marketing, leadership, travel, surfing, and raising three amazing daughters…
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