Tuesday Buzz: Lessons From Star Wars’ Set Drama

Turmoil on the set of the Disney and Lucasfilm Han Solo movie provides leadership lessons for association executives. Also: the common values shared by associations and vendors.

Leadership lessons from Star Wars? Sure, why not. But these lessons are a bit different than you might be expecting.

Recently, behind-the-scenes conflict on the set of the untitled Han Solo spinoff film from Disney and Lucasfilm led to the firing of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. As new details emerge about what went wrong, association leaders may want to take a “what not to do” cue from this Hollywood fiasco.

A few key takeaways:

Don’t fall short of expectations. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy expected Lord and Miller to deliver 12 to 15 camera angles for each scene, but the directors, on at least one day, delivered only two or three, which hinders the editing process. For association leaders, under-delivering risks turning key stakeholders against you.

Agree on a vision before you pour money and work into a project. Some of the conflict on set may have stemmed from “‘deep fundamental philosophical differences’ in filmmaking styles” between the directors and Disney and Lucasfilm leadership. In the association space, it’s vital that executives and staff are aligned on a vision and shared goals for projects so leaders don’t receive a product they never wanted.

Hire the right people for the right job. Lord and Miller are experienced directors and have found tremendous success with The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, but they were a bad fit for a film of this size. Hollywood Reporter sources say “they relied too heavily on the improvisational style that served them so well in live-action comedy and animation but does not work on a set with hundreds of crew members waiting for direction.” When associations are looking to fill out their leadership teams, they should be sure to find people with the precise qualifications they need.

The Han Solo film isn’t the first Star Wars spinoff to face issues with creative direction. So yes, plenty of management food for thought here.

Shared Values

Associations and vendors may have more in common than you think. In a recent post for the MemberClicks blog, Erin Hall, a former association executive, shares what she learned after moving over to the vendor side.

“Contributing passionately to a company’s positive culture, no matter what your level of employment, is very important,” writes Hall. “Negative, secretive, or threatening cultures are not worth spreading around.”

What does it take to succeed on both sides of the fence? “Success sometimes means saying no or having a different opinion than the mainstream,” she says.

Other Links of Note

Instagram is testing a major redesign. According to The Verge, the platform is experimenting with a new style of private sharing.

We all want more money for our organization. The Higher Logic blog reveals five ways to maximize donations to your nonprofit.

Are your national and local chapters inconsistent? The Loyalty and Research Center blog shares ways to get them on the same page.

The stars of the Han Solo film, along with directors Chris Miller (left) and Phil Lord (second from right). (LucasFilm)

Raegan Johnson

By Raegan Johnson

Raegan Johnson is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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