Corporate Culture Watch: Tarkin Doctrine

Corporate Culture Watch: Tarkin Doctrine

Today, I’d like to connect two things that—for the sake of this blog post—I’ll assume haven’t been connected before…Star Wars and Business.

At goBRANDgo!, we have a pretty well-established culture. Honesty, Innovation, Creativity, Fun, Confidence, etc. We talk about culture a lot, and we take it pretty seriously. That’s great and all, but it makes it much more apparent when other corporate cultures are less…empowergizing.

Organizations, especially as they get larger, tend to lose their humanity or innovation, replacing them instead with bureaucracy and politics. Some of this is a function of growth and happens in order to preserve standards and order, but a large portion of it is due to people thoughtlessly accepting corporate norms without questioning how they affect the “good” parts of creativity and chaos.

We were recently in talks with a large corporation that fell prey to this acceptance in a way that seemed to poison their organization from the top down.

There is a scene in Star Wars where Grand Moff Tarkin addresses how to best maintain order and security in an expanding Empire. (note: there is no youtube footage of this exact scene. I present to you, instead, the entirety of Star Wars: Uncut. Skip to 36:39 for the scene I’m referring to. Watch the whole movie if you are in a place that supports happiness.)

The company to whom goBRANDgo! was talking, the company which goBRANDgo! ultimately decided was not a match, culture-wise, was guilty of managing via the Tarkin Doctrine.

“What do you need with the Senate when you can give direct control of territories to your hand-picked regional governors? Sweep away the last remnants of the Old Republic and let fear keep the local systems in line—fear of our ultimate weapon.”

The many-headed organization we were dealing with didn’t even have the benefit of a single-minded emperor to guide its decisions. It was an assemblage of multiple agendas being unsuccessfully held together by the spineless toadying that comes from a constant fear of the “ultimate weapon,” termination (or worse, dissolution of an entire team).

This corporation will likely experience some success. There is enough money floating around behind the scenes that they might be able to throw cash into the gaping holes in their culture and practices until some true leadership comes forward. Ultimately, however, I can’t see this ending in any positive way.

True innovation and a thriving culture is emboldened and enhanced in an environment that is not based on fear of failure or abuse of power. Innovators and entrepreneurs hate being able to smell the stench of your Tarkin Doctrine when they come on board.

Much like the Empire in Star Wars (SPOILER ALERT) is overthrown by the rebels, with their scrappy spirit and unconventional methods, the small businesses and individuals with entrepreneurial spirit that built this country will continue to adapt and learn, creating new best practices, promoting an embrace of enriching culture, and eradicating the threat of the Death Star.

How does your corporate culture combat the Tarkin Doctrine? Or are you stuck in an Imperial Bureaucracy that has you scared of being blown off the face of the star-charts? Let us know, and may the Force be with you…always.

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