Darth Vader – Project Manager Part 2

April 24, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on a project that was managed by Darth Vader?

In Part 1 I analyzed the good side of his skills. In Part 2 I tried to find the bad but I only find more good.

Once more thanks to George Lucas for inventing Star Wars and thanks again my co-workers for not utilizing Darth Vader’s style.

More Good




He promotes from within, and holds people accountable

[Darth Vader has just learned of Admiral Ozzel’s big blunder, and activates a viewscreen]
Admiral Ozzel: [appearing onscreen with Captain Piett] Lord Vader, the fleet has moved out of lightspeed and we’re preparing to…
[Ozzel stops, and suddenly begins to choke, clutching at his throat]
Darth Vader: You have failed me for the last time, Admiral. Captain Piett?
Captain Piett: Yes, my lord?
Darth Vader: Make ready to land our troops beyond their energy field, and deploy the fleet, so that nothing gets off the system.
[beside Piett, Admiral Ozzel utters one last strangled gasp, and falls over dead]
Darth Vader: You are in command now, Admiral Piett.
Admiral Piett: Thank you, Lord Vader.

Promoting from within can be a good thing, however, Vader’s method of creating openings is a bit suspect. Perhaps he should have studied Crucial Confrontations. He could have learned more appropriate ways to hold subordinates accountable. He clearly didn’t know how to “confront with safety.”

He should have prepared by mastering his own stories, then privately confronted him, described the gap in expectations, trying to motivate while lowering barriers.

That might have gone a little more like this
Darth Vader: Admiral Ozzel, come see me on my ship.
Admiral Ozzel: Right away Lord Vader.
[Ozzel arrives on Vader’s ship]
 Darth Vader: Admiral Ozzel, I detect a disturbing pattern of failures. Today, you emerged from lightspeed close enough to the planet for the Rebels to detect our fleet. As a result surprise was lost. On the following previous occasions I noticed similar results.
[Vader realizing that many failures result from a lack of ability and/or motivation, asks questions to try and find out which factors are involved.]
Did you plan for surprise, as I requested? [If yes then it is an ability issue, if no then motivation, he wasn’t motivated to obey.]

He can motivate the workers

[Darth Vader steps out of his shuttle on the Death Star.]

Moff Jerjerrod: Welcome, Lord Vader. This is an unexpected pleasure. We are honored by your presence.

Darth Vader: You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.

Jerjerrod: I assure you, Lord Vader, my men are working as fast they can.

Vader: Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.

Jerjerrod: I tell you that this station will be operational as planned.

Vader: The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.

Jerjerrod: But he asks the impossible! I need more men!

Vader: Then perhaps you can tell him yourself when he arrives.

Jerjerrod: [alarmed] The Emperor’s coming here?

Vader: That is correct, Commander, and he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.

Jerjerrod: We shall double our efforts.

Vader: I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.

Wow Vader certainly doesn’t subscribe to Patrick Lencioni’s philosophy of building enough trust on your team to allow someone to feel vulnerable.

In this instance Vader is more of the project sponsor and Moff Jerjerrod is the PM.

Moff Jerjerrod is clearly operating in a culture of fear and refuses to reveal bad estimates of the situation. So he is clearly using avoiding to hide the truth. Avoiding is a form of Silence. When we feel threatened in a conversation we tend to move towards silence or violence depending upon our natural tendencies as well as the power dynamics of the relationships involved.

One of the two of them needs to recognize that safety is definitely at risk in this conversation, well Jerjerrod’s life too. They need to make it safe. How you do so depends on whether you are working at cross purposes or one of you is feeling not respected. Another factor is why. So in this case it doesn’t seem to be respect so much as not having the same purpose. Is it a result of a misunderstanding or do they genuinely want different things?
Jerjerrod’s purpose in this conversation seems to be to not get in trouble, lose his job, his life and get his family exiled to Tatooine. His strategy in the conversation is to avoid the conversation with “pleasantries”, then a desperate confession followed by an overly “optimistic appraisal of the situation,” another desperate confession, and finally a somewhat fatalistic acceptance of the impossible deadline.

Vader’s purpose is to get the Death Star operational on the Emperor’s deadline. His strategy is to make veiled threats. Although coming from a 6 ft. plus Sith Lord who has choked several co-workers to death with a slight movement of his fingers, the threat is not so veiled.

They need to invent mutual purpose.
Jerjerrod: Lord Vader we seem to have some different strategies, but I think we both want the same thing: to get the Death Star operational without working people so hard that they make errors that can result in tragic mistakes later on, such as leaving an exhaust port unprotected that could lead to a chain reaction and destroy the death star. Do you agree or do you see a different goal?

Vader: The power to destroy the Death Star is insignificant compared to the power of the force. Ahem sorry, I was compelled to get that out there. Yes I believe that is the goal.

[Vader and Jerjerrod retire to a conference room to discuss the PERT and GANTT charts and see what they can do]

Quotes from the Star Wars movies, found on: