Think Star Wars — and you probably don't think information management. But throughout the entire Star Wars series there have been epic instances of bad information management and disastrous knowledge management (not to mention abysmal information security, but that’s for a different article).

Oh, and this is the point where I say: spoilers ahead.

Bad information management isn't restricted to the bad guys. The force makes some egregious errors as well. 

Where, Oh Where?

Let's start with the Library of the Jedi Temple. Do you remember when Obi Wan Kenobi went to the library in search of evidence of the planet Kamino, only to be informed by a rather grumpy old Jedi information and library science grad that if the archives say there is no such place, then no such place can exist? 

Have you ever run across this attitude in the workplace? 

Do you have a “knowledge base” system that fulfills the role of the Jedi Library? Or perhaps many such systems, maybe even a good search tool, but you're still left wondering if something is missing from the results? Do you have your own resident expert to turn to? The highly knowledgeable individual who can do the equivalent of figuring out that something should be there because of the effects its invisible gravitational pull is having on other objects (information) around it?

The Jedi are also the victims/perpetrators of the biggest KM failure of the whole series … there can only be two Sith at any one time? You realize there used to be a whole empire full of them, right? 

All Star Wars joking aside, this is a useful allegory for what happens when hard won knowledge is accidentally (?) discarded and the potential pain to be endured in learning it again. In an enterprise context this manifests most often when business processes are not adequately documented at design time, and then someone tries to document them later, but doesn't finish.

And then there's Luke Skywalker. Hero? Sure. Creator of an information management failure? Absolutely. 

Luke wanders off without telling his sister and the rest of the Rebel Alliance, storing the majority of a map on a thumb drive and the remaining piece in R2D2. While this might fall under the information security idea of compartmentalization — or maybe just good spy craft — but it smacks of an information management failure. A good sys admin could configure encryption at rest, backup policies and fast deletion routines.

Learning Opportunities

Don't Get Me Started on the Dark Side

Members of the Galactic Empire were no masters of information security practices either. Not only did they lose the full blueprints of its battle station to the Rebels, the real KM issue (and lack of lessons learned) was that if small fighter craft can penetrate your shields and destroy your battle station once, you better do something to prevent it from happening again, right? 

Apparently the Empire did not have a lessons learned process, or an organizational learning strategy that would have protected the second Death Star in a different manner (like basing a thousand TIE fighters within fast scramble distance). 

Any similarities in your enterprise? 

Or are you better at learning from past successes and failures to prevent constant re-inventing (and re-engineer) of the wheel? 

Or are you more like the First Order (without the evil fascist over tones obviously), who even though they represent the remnants of the Empire seem to have the same KM problem with a lack of process for lessons learned?

After all, Jedi infiltrated the original Death Star to take down the tractor beam, Rebels infiltrated the shield generator station on Endor to enable the attack on the Death Star 2, and then Rebels infiltrate Star Killer base and ... oh yeah, it's just a movie.

In all seriousness, does your organization talk a lot about information or knowledge management, but find it hard to execute on strategies? You don't have to be an evil empire to suffer from EIM and KM issues. It happens to normal earthlings, too.

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