Star Wars: The Last Jedi

It is time for my fandom to end.

My love affair began at age 9 with The Empire Strikes Back, as it was my first memorable theatre experience. I had seen Star Wars but the feeling of seeing Luke and Vader battle in Cloud City, Yoda dispense wisdom while training young Skywalker and the beautiful set pieces of Cloud City & Hoth was a hallmark of my youth. It was evident in my toy collection: the Hoth base, Luke and Han in their winter gear, the snow speeder & Boba Fett’s ship.

After reaching the acceptance stage of grief that were the prequels, I held out hope for the new trilogy. So much so, that I gave the Force Awakens a pass for its insistence on nostalgia over story. It felt like it needed to pay back the long time fans for previous disappointments. I was wrong.

Each generation of Star Wars movies is speaking to a different audience. It’s message and tone are a byproduct of how stories are told in its respective time.

I’ve been eating at McDonald’s since I was a kid but the menu has changed immensely in the last 30 years. I still return on occasion (like yesterday) and I get the same thing that I’ve always loved (the Big Mac). But as much as I connect with McDonald’s and despite the number of years that I’ve supported it, it doesn’t belong to me. It never did.

Likewise, The Last Jedi story illustrates why this is so important. If we don’t move past the rigidity of the old ways, we become confined by it in ways that prevent us from moving forward. It would’ve been great if J.J. Abrams *The Force Awakens* was bold enough to make those choices as we’d now be well on our way to fully exploring this new chapter of the amazing universe that Lucas created 40 years ago. Thankfully, Rian Johnson was given leeway to do so.

Star Wars movies shouldn’t be about rehashing and reliving your favorite moments in the original trilogy. That’s what DVDs and Netflix are for. New stories should introduce new characters and take existing ones (including the Force) into new directions, boldly if possible. In this regard, The Last Jedi succeeds.

I’ve been bored of the Skywalker saga for a while. While I fell in love with the story as a child, it was the promise of the universe that kept me. It’s why I loved the Kevin J. Anderson novels. It’s why I watched the Clone Wars. It’s why I wrote a term paper on *Tales of the Bounty Hunters* for a science fiction literature course in college

My old Star Wars fandom is dead. All hail my new Star Wars fandom.

Why They Won’t Pursue Your Idea

You’ve experienced this: you’ve been working at the company long enough to know how things work and you’re confident in your skills and contributions. It’s been long enough that you see more than just where the chinks in the armor are or opportunities than the company should be pursuing. At some point, you have the ear of one of the higher ups in your company. Maybe it’s at a company retreat or possibly a sidebar at the end of a meeting. You excitedly explain your idea and expect to have it rewarded with an enthusiastic response and possibly even an offer to lead the new project.

Instead you are greeted with a compliment sandwich of denial. “That’s a good idea but it’s not something that we can pursue right now.  Keep thinking outside the box, though. It’s appreciated.” Such a letdown, right?

It’s happened to me on more than one occasion. After a recent discussion with a colleague who had a similar experience, I started thinking about why we’re surprised at these outcomes and how to be better prepared going into these situations by considering what we’re really asking.

Business is all about relationships. Not simply the internal and external ones with our coworkers and customers/suppliers, but the ones we have with our products and processes as well. When you advocate for a new process or product, you’re asking the organization to enter into a new relationship. And relationships take work. So you asking the organization to do more work.

But your idea is special in that it will make things better, right? Who doesn’t want better relationships?

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Hmmm…

Existing tools and procedures are established relationships, complete with a history of joys and disappointments.  But most importantly, established relationships have trust. They are a known entity. They may be low tech and even inefficient but there aren’t any surprises. Your new solution has potential and could well be better than any/every existing one but it’s still an unknown.

If you’re just at the idea stage, you have the added disadvantage that it’s an idealized relationship in your head, complete with a wonderful future that may excite you and make your heart flutter. Yet, in the eyes of an outsider, which at this stages is everybody but you, it’s still a fantasy .

How can you move from this place and improve your chances of others being more receptive to you?

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More than words

Provide something tangible. Give them something they can get excited about. A thing they can engage with physically and emotionally. It could be as simple as a paper design, a video demo or a prototype. Don’t think only in terms of completed products or processes. Many of the products and processes we used today started with the initial positive feedback we got from a sample.

 

Just remember, asking someone to enter a new relationship is a huge request. To paraphrase Aretha Franklin, give them something they can feel and you’ll have a better chance of winning them over.

What if you’ve done this, you think it has huge potential and they still don’t want to do it?

Consider how truly important the solution is to you. If you still think the idea has merit and pursuing it won’t conflict with the relationship you have with the company…

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You can go your own way