“Through sheer luck, the rebels managed to destroy the first Death Star. By rebuilding the Death Star, and using it as many times as necessary to restore order, we prove that their luck only goes so far. We prove that we are the only galactic authority and always will be.” — Lieutenant Nash Windrider
Famous last words, huh?
In the Star Wars universe there have been a fair share of product design failures that have led to product and even customer death.
Jango Fett died because his jetpack didn’t fire in time to escape a light saber-wielding Mace Windu. Young Boba Fett, who watched how a product defect cost his father’s life, had a jetpack designed with a hair-trigger so fatally sensitive an accidental nudge from a blind smuggler launched him flying into an insatiable sarlaac pit.
How biblical: the jetpack defects of the father are passed on to the son.
Another embarrassing example of poor product design was the wildly ill-conceived AT-ATs (as we examined in an earlier episode). These wobbly Walkers were designed with a complete disregard for customer/user feedback with the expected disappointing results.
A culture that refuses to embrace the tenets of design thinking or embrace the business value of a comprehensive cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) solution will run the risk of quality failure. The only other thing worse than a customer casualty due to a product defect is the heart-wrenching brand damage to the manufacturer (wink). Certainly the crème de la crème of all product failure and brand damage to the Dark Side was the destruction of two Death Stars.
How did the Empire let that happen — twice? Let’s investigate.
A postmortem on the first Death Star revealed that a reliance on silo’d product design functions obstructed visibility into the exhaust port vulnerability, which were documented but never formally corrected. If the Empire’s Death Star design team had used a comprehensive all-in-one PLM and QMS solution, cross-functional teams would have benefited from enhanced visibility into potential errors. They could have, in turn, collaborated to proactively ensure no quality failure shipped to market.
However, a postmortem on Death Star II revealed a slightly different cause for failure than the one that doomed Death Star I. For Death Star II, a lack of critical human capital resources and an aggressive shipping date was a surefire recipe for quality failure. Behind the scenes, what really happened was the Emperor foolishly demanded the development team use an on-premise product lifecycle solution that sequestered valuable IT and engineer staff to implement and manage; this limited the personnel available to finish building the Death Star in time for launch.
“My first three months I oversaw a team of 15,000 consultants who were writing code to get the on-premise PLM platform to a usable state, ” said Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod, who was given oversight of the Death Star II. “Implementing this system was going to take years and cost an incredible amount of money — neither of which we had because Vader was literally breathing — or should I say wheezing — down my throat.”
Moff continued, “I said to the Emperor, ‘look handsome, I know we spent a lot of money on this system, and I know it’s great on paper and can theoretically do anything we’ll ever want it to do, but we don’t have the resources to get where we need to be fast enough. At this pace, my grandchildren will be completing this deployment. We need a PLM solution built on industry best practices that we can configure with a very small team and knock out right now because I need to focus my engineers on finishing the Death Star. So please approve the scrapping of this on-premise PLM implementation so we can adopt Arena’s cloud-based solution.”
The Emperor stubbornly refused to listen.
The Emperor’s mistake was he forgot to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the Dark Side’s on-premise investment, including: hardware, network, backup and development systems. The TCO also included the critical cost of on-going operational human capital, such as engineers, project management, database, server, firewall, security, backup and help desk resources — not to mention the overtime pay for weekend work to install emergency hot fixes, Death Star hardware and Laser repairs, and security and force field issues.
“The Emperor focused on the subscription license as the only true cost savings but the real aggregate net savings of a cloud-based system comes from not having to manage your own IT infrastructure, including hosting, data security, and hardware maintenance,” says Moff. “Yes, the Emperor is true to the thug life, but he acts like he’s a product design expert and he’s not. He can’t even comprehend the business benefits of a cloud-based solution. I mean just look at his track record — he’s 0 for 2 when it comes to building Death Stars.”
Stay tuned for the next Star Wars blog.