Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matt Wrather deploy the tools of management consulting to gauge the success of their New Year’s resolutions, as well as the success of the Rebellion, Resistance, Empire, and First Order in the Star Wars universe.
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The Overview: Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI
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Using the rate of superweapon destruction is a very poor metric to use. A much better metric would be mean-time between construction of superweapons or number of planets NOT destroyed by superweapons. By these metrics, the Rebellion was very unsuccessful at the latter because it was only a year or two (depending on how much time you think elapsed between Episode 4 and 6) before the Empire built a new superweapon. However it was very successful on the latter statistic as the new Death Star was incapacitated before it could be used against planets.
So while the New Republic managed to go thirty years between superweapons, it fared very poorly on the planet protection metric, losing five in just a matter of minutes.
Both of these measurements suffer from the Problem Of Small Numbers in that single incidents skew the statistics significantly. Better measurements might be rate of planetary influence by quasifascist military organizations number of active Dark Side practitioners.
The conversation Wrather starts at 1:01:30 (“what if we could solve pop culture”) reminded me of the book “Finite and Infinite Games”. TLDR: there are some games whose objective is not to win or lose, but to simply keep the game going – the so-called Infinite Games. You can change the rules, or the players, but everyone wins as long as the game is kept going.
I would posit that pop culture is an infinite game, in that you want it to keep going indefinitely. If you ever “solved” pop culture you would end it. Ditto podcasting – if Adam Carolla won podcasting (shudder) then everyone else would lose.
It’s also interesting to apply this idea of games to business. If you look at a business as a finite game, then Wrather is correct to say “the objective of a business is to make itself unnecessary”. But if you ever did achieve your objective, you’re out of business. You’ve ended the game. And as history shows us over and over, businesses choose not to end the game they’re playing. It’s a survival instinct. Consider Kodak who defined their game as making film, and missed the digital revolution. Or Sony who said their game was making Walkmen, and missed the iPod. Nowadays businesses have wised up, and define their goals in more infinite terms – we aren’t in the horse buggy whips business anymore, we “solve transportation problems”. That I think is very smart, and good for both the business and society.
I guess what I’m saying is, please don’t solve podcasting anytime soon. I love the podcast and want to keep listening :)
Woo, special mention at the end :) Thanks!
I think no conversation on existentialism and Star Wars is complete without one of my favourite YouTube videos of all time – “Existential Star Wars” where quotes from the great existential philosophers are put to scenes from the French dubbed Episode IV. “I exist, and I find it nauseating!”