Surely we all know the difference between IT and The Hunger Games. One is a dystopian story about people fighting to the death, against impossible odds, simply to get the resources they need to survive, for the amusement of their cruel overlords. The other is a movie.
Okay, maybe that’s overstating it a bit.
If you’ve managed to avoid the franchise — apparently you don’t know any teenage girls — it’s basically that high-school staple Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” turned into a reality show from hell. Plucky Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to be a Tribute to save her baby sister, has to fight to the death to survive not only her fellow Tributes, but the government-run game organization — and finds herself as the unwilling symbol of the entire nation’s resistance movement. In the second movie, opening this week, she not only still has to save her family, but also her entire district, and the entire resistance movement.
And you thought your annual corporate retreats were tough.
(Incidentally, they’re actually talking about doing a Hunger Games theme park. Seriously? Can you imagine what that would be like? Did they not read the books?)
That said, there’s a lot that IT organizations can learn from The Hunger Games. (Don’t laugh. It’s already been compared with social media strategies, HR issues like recruitment and annual reviews, and ERP implementations.)
Have a team: Fight to the death it may be, but every Tribute in The Hunger Games has a support team, ranging from weapons instructors and donors to hairdressers and costume designers. Katniss might be the front-facing person, but she trusts in her team to do their jobs and takes their advice.
Have a narrative: Part of the reason Katniss survives is that her co-Tribute, Peeta, comes up with the “star-crossed lovers” angle, where he’s been in love with her for years but can only reveal it now that they are supposed to fight each other to the death. And every public appearance that Katniss and Peeta make, everything they do, from their interviews to their costume choices, goes to support that narrative. It’s how they stand out from everyone else — which is vital in this world, because they need support from their audience.
Work with your adversaries: While the Tributes are supposed to fight each other to the death eventually, they team up together to begin with. Remember that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and that even though you may find yourself up against another department at some point, you may have common goals in the meantime.
Think outside the box: So, you may be asking, if Katniss and Peeta were supposed to fight to the death, how come they’re both still in the second movie? That’s The Hunger Games’ Kobayashi Maru, to mix movie metaphors, and just like James Kirk managed to outwit the Federation’s no-win scenario, so, too, did Katniss and Peeta. Think you have to choose between two unpalatable alternatives? Find another option.
Make use of your entire team’s strengths: It’s easy to rely on a brute-force attack, but a point made over and over again in the books is that the small, weak, and even mentally deficient people can sometimes have totally badass ideas, ranging from dropping a beehive on the opponent or blowing up all their food to zapping the entire arena. (See “Think outside the box.”) Don’t let yourself depend only on the people you consider your champions.
Keep your eye on the goal: Something Katniss has to be reminded of is that the real enemy is not the other Tributes — because they’re all in the same untenable position — but, really, the society that has put them in that position. Don’t let yourself get distracted by side issues. No matter how many alligators you have to fight, remember that your ultimate goal is to drain the swamp.
And may the odds be ever in your favor.
Simplicity 2.0 is where we examine the intricate and transitory world of technology—through a Laserfiche lens. By keeping an eye on larger trends, we aim to make software that’s relevant to modern day workers, rather than build technology for technology’s sake.
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