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04 May 2006

May the fourth be with you

Are you Darth Vader, a borg or a dalek?

On Star Wars day, May the Fourth be with you, a chance to look at some top villians from science fiction and see who you can spot in the world of business.

Darth Vader from Star Wars?
The Borg from Star Trek (discounting the Tom Baker Dr Who episode with a character called Borg in it)
The Daleks from Dr Who?

What's all this about then? Ever watch The Apprentice? Don't suppose Sir Alan Sugar wouldn't get on too well as an employee, he's too much his own boss and certainly isn't a team player. Just as well he started his own business, I doubt many would want to hire him. The same is also true of many other sucessful people who spent very little time as employees before they set out to make their fortunes. Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson spring to mind. Yet each has a very different technique for success.

The world of business and the world of employment have a conflict of philosophy.

In the world of employment, you need to be a team player, if you recruit then discrimination is usually illegal.
In the world of business however, it pays to be ruthless. "You're fired" as Alan Sugar says. It's every person for themselves. If you don't win market share then someone will steal yours. Finally, discrimination in the world of business is rampant and encouraged. Well of course there's plenty "woman of the year" awards, especially when there is no male equivalent. Do you think a company could get away with having "female employee of the year" and no male equivalent? There's also ageism - many startup funds are only available to people who have had a certain number of birthdays or less. This rampant discrimination seems to be par for the course for startup funding, business awards and so on yet quite rightly ruled illegal in the workplace. Maybe those who fund such awards should look more closely at the message they send out.

So the world of the business leader is often a rough one, dealing in a world of discrimination, trying to outplay the opposition, using every trick possible to succeed. The world of the employee is tough enough with redundancies, downsizing, outsourcing and so on yet the team spirit is enouraged. Working together is encouraged. The "no blame" culture is encouraged. Collaboration rather than confrontation. One wonders how these people will ever fit into the culture of the leaders.

Back to science fiction.
Darth Vader works in collaboration with the evil empire that attempts to appear as the one true way.
The Borg assimilate the opposition and incorporate them for their tools and knowledge.
The Daleks eliminate all who stand in their way

Microsoft, Oracle, and sir Alan Sugar anyone?

May the fourth be with as as we look for a leader that as a role model for the next generation of enterprise is a Jean Luc Picard, Luke Skywalker or Dr Who. someone who can truly Do No Evil.

Beam us up- there's no intelligent life down here, Scottie.

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