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Do You Believe In Magic?

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March 28, 2019

1965 vs. 1992. 

Rock n’ Roll vs. McDonalds. 

There are two generations that may have wildly different memories associated with the musical origin of this question.  I happen to fall in the latter.  I can’t hear the phrase do you believe in magic without activating childhood memories of a McDonalds Happy Meal and those awesome toys

As organizations expand beyond the startup of 1 to a growth cycle–adding, subtracting and constantly developing staff– many managers wish they believed in magic.  I sure do.  Particularly, the kind of magic that aids in identifying the intangible skills that make for great team members, or the foresight to know when its time to part ways.

This week, we look no further than Star Wars to learn the optimal “tours of duty” that benefit both the employee and the organization.  Inspired by Reif Hoffman, Chris Yeh and Ben Casnocha’s The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Network Age, we’ll learn where Star Wars characters fit and why.

Han Solo

You’re working hard, but the mission of the organization is not what gets you up in the morning.  It’s likely that you’ll identify most with Han Solo.  The hired gun. Here for today. Maybe tomorrow, but unlikely much longer.  You’re on a “rotational” tour of duty in Alliance speak.  While you are well suited for specific project work or for through a particular stage of growth, there should be no hard feelings when (not if) the rotational tour ends and you part ways.  As leaders, what are you doing to cultivate strong alumni ambassadors?

Luke Skywalker

 On this “transformational tour of duty” both the employee and the organization are meaningfully transformed.  Here experience transcends the role description; it’s about seeing a particular vision realized.  If you’re like Luke, then you’ll encounter a role that transforms you from a worker to a Jedi master over time.  You leave a different person than when you started. As managers, are you designing for transformative experiences?

Princess Leia

Are you a Leia? If so, your personal mission is completely aligned that she completely fulfilled by the growth and impact of the organization.  Coined the “foundation tour of duty,” we know these folks as lifers, likely founding team members or senior leadership.  They serve to create, maintain and steward the culture and structure of the organization.  For the visionaries: are you building to build? Or to create a strong foundation?

Master Yoda

In a hyper digital age, those who identify with Yoda may abhor technology but offer significant value in the art of connection, relationship management, and rainmaking.  Yoda is the keeper and cultivator of human capital– the fourth bottom line that often receives the least amount of investment.  Commonly identified as true luddites, they are the silent power brokers who get deals done behind closed doors and are the quintessential OG mentors.  How are you celebrating wisdom and experience? 

What we ultimately learn from The Alliance and our Star Wars friends is that organizations ought to be rich in diversity, of both people and perspective, but they operate on different time horizons as well.  The sooner we appreciate nuanced distinction between time and timing as it relates to our teams, the more we can maximize their impact in the present. 


Venture Cafe Miami

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