“I have a bad feeling about this” is actually the word for life
as a leader In the Jedi Council in the “Star Wars” universe, Yoda is essentially their CEO.
It was his job to see the future, a talent honed exclusively by visionary monks, but he kept his vision clouded by the dark side of the Force. Despite his strength, experience, authority, and wisdom, Yoda was terrible at understanding what was going on around him until it was too late.
For a decade, the Jedi Master worked directly with the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious, who hid under Yoda’s nose as Prime Minister of the Galactic Republic. Yoda failed to realize the changes that were taking place, leading to the rise of Palpatine’s empire and a complete overhaul of the cultural way of life.
Faced with confusing facts and dubious clues, what did Yoda do? He went back to his room to meditate, but he took no action.
Yes, Yoda got it Kodak.
Unfortunately, this is all too common among current company leadership. Many executives act as if they believe the good times will never end, or as if they don’t care if it ever ends.
Whether it’s Kodak’s CEO dismissing digital photography or Blockbuster’s notoriously downplaying the threat of Netflix, there always seems to be another market leader who is blissfully ignoring the winds of change.
“I have a bad feeling about this” is the word leaders should abide by, as the joke shows awareness and positivity.
In contrast to Yoda, Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi combines insight and action to maintain hope for the future.
Envisioning the future is also the goal of entrepreneurs, business leaders and venture capitalists. With that in mind, here are five lessons from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s heroic actions, and how corporate and startup executives can apply these ideas to develop transformation strategies and tactics:
Identify problems before they start by collecting street-level data
When the Sith criticized the Jedi’s arrogance, their argument made sense because the Jedi leader, Yoda, was cut off from the world. The Jedi Council sat in a real ivory tower and sent Obi-Wan Kenobi on a mission. As one of the Jedi’s top field agents, he was able to gather information to help understand what was happening across the Republic.
Kenobi first learned during the Clone Wars that Darth Terranus was actually Count Dooku, and he continued to dig for every clue he found, always on a quest to learn more. Likewise, in the second episode, Kenobi travels to Kamino to unravel the mysteries of the clone army.
The lesson for innovators is that you cannot meditate on organizational change. The refrain “I have a bad hunch about this” from Star Wars might be the equivalent of Intel co-founder Andy Grove’s “Only the paranoid survive.”
Grove’s definition of paranoia can be interpreted as the importance of constant attention. This means being unhappy with the lack of clarity and investigating to get “street” information about the state of the market, customers and everyone else’s capabilities.
On a practical level, street data means that companies should encounter many potentially disruptive startups, and startups should encounter potentially complementary or competing companies. Everyone should meet with as many clients and prospects as possible.
bold and decisive
In the third episode, Obi-Wan tracks down General Grievous in Utapau. While the Separatist droid leader had killed dozens of Jedi Knights, the outnumbered Kenobi realized he had to take the risk of confronting Grievous. He leaped from a height among dozens of enemy robots, uttering a line that became a meme, “Hello, there.”