To honor the Force on May 4th, I dedicate this essay to Lando Calrissian, the Baron Administrator of Cloud City. In case you don’t know, Cloud City is the Tibanna gas mining colony floating around planet Bespin in the Anoat sector of the Outer Rim Territories (wiki of course).
Administrator Calrissian is one of the few “professionals” in Star Wars, that is, one of the few that is not a professional villain or hero. The man works for a living. Like most of those reading this piece, he is a respectable member of the community, he is accountable, a decision maker and a public servant. I am sure many MPA applicants have been inspired by Lando Calrissian in their public service pursuit. Right.
The type of government or structure of Cloud City is never discussed, but it is implied that Administrator Calrissian enjoys much discretion and independence. If I had to apply earthly models, I would say that he works for a strong Mayor type of being. He is an independent, trusted chief of staff; he is an enforcer. He has no time for quorums, special meetings or open meeting law notices.
We meet Administrator Calrissian for the first time in the Empire Strikes Back (like who does not know that?), but we get a sense of his origins in Solo (the movie is good, not sure why it got all the hate it got). Just to keep this piece simple, I will ignore the Legends novels where we learn a great deal about Lando and his family. Nothing in Solo or The Empire Strikes Back, leads us to believe that he became an Administrator through formal training, such a pilot academy, or that he worked his way up the chain of command in various planets and galaxies. We do know a few characteristics about our hero Administrator prior to his original encounter with Han and the crew. 1. He is a scoundrel 2. He is a gambler 3. He is a frenemy of Han’s 4. He is unpredictable 5. He is not a friend of the Empire (or so Han thinks…). I must add, that once we meet him we realize that he has not attended sexual harassment awareness trainings.
These personal flaws however also imply important attributes. The other side of the space coin implies that he is a survivor, a hustler, an innovator and a risk taker, and that he is also loyal, shrewd and principled. My kind of City Administrator or City Manager.
Had his position regarding the Empire not been clear, would Han seek his help? Lando’s core values are important and unwavering.
Had his creative and astute thinking not been evident, would Han trust that he would help with the Falcon? Lando is a doer; he gets s#*t done.
Had Lando’s reputation as a friend not be known, would Han not react the way he did when realizing that Lando was the Administrator of his potential sanctuary? Lando’s belief system, though may not be the Force, is grounded on aiding those in need- sounds like a welcoming city to me!!!.
Once Administrator Calrissian betrays our heroes, it is easy to hate him. Does that sound familiar you Administrators and Manager reading this? Let’s analyze his decision and let’s imagine how the decision-making process may have taken place. He used a futuristic version of the Cynefin Decision Making Framework: Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic. https://medium.com/10x-curiosity/know-your-domain-the-cynefin-framework-dc28648558f1
Based on this framework, the context characteristics exhibited all the elements consistent with a Chaotic situation:
- High Turbulence (most definitely- he is managing a clandestine city!)
- No certain cause and effect (can’t trust the Empire)
- Unknowables (Lando only knows what the Empire is telling him and we know how truthful the Empire is…)
- Many decisions to make and no time to think (Lando indicates that the Empire showed up shortly before Millennium Falcon landed)
- High Tension (can you imagine negotiating with Darth Vader?… then again, some us have done this!!)
- Pattern-based leadership (for all the reasons discussed, Lando just has to trust his gut)
With this context in mind, then Administrator Calrissian’s job was to:
- Act, sense and respond- He did. He made a deal with the Empire to preserve the safety of his City.
- Find immediate solutions and sacrificing the right answer. The Empire was unpredictable, all he could hope for was immediate respite.
- Take immediate action to reestablish order. Upon realizing that the Empire had not provided all the information at the onset of their deal, Administrator Calrissian deploys plan B, capturing stormtroopers and releasing Princess Leia, Chewbacca and the droids.
- Provide clear direction and communication. Plan B is flawlessly executed and he even manages to communicate his plan to Chewy as he is getting chocked to death by our furry hero.
I salute the City Administrator/Manager of Galaxies Far Away. May we all find inspiration on Administrator Calrissian’s decision making and the importance of exit strategies. COVID-19 reminds us about uncertainty and the Dark Side. May the Force Be With Us.