Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s ‘The Goal’: Kathy Kennedy is doing a great job with ‘Star Wars’, and how we can prove it with proper business measurements

Before anyone says, “Oh no, he’s writing another Star Wars article,” stay with me for a bit here. What I’m about to say has some very important things in it that are very “holistic.”  They span very much into our greater lives as a human species, so put on your thinking caps and follow along.  Specifically Star Wars and in general Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy have come under great attack lately for firing four directors and twelve writers as she looks for just the right combination of people to make the new Star Wars movies just right.  The most recent news was that J.J. Abrams was coming back to direct Episode 9 which caused quite a stir and finally unleashed a major backlash from the entertainment community that was surprising, because it has revealed some extremely Marxist elements that we all know are there, but these Star Wars firings are exposing it in a measurable way.   So as a guide post to keep us all from getting lost I’d like to introduce to everyone the very good, and very popular book on business, The Goal, written in 1984.  The Goal is such a powerful book that Amazon makes its executives read it and apply the basic philosophy to their industry, which obviously works.  I also happen to know that Boeing has had their industry flow professionals read the book to improve their business climate as well, so we aren’t talking about some fringe infusion of ideas here.  The Goal is very mainstream in American business—extremely well known.   In short The Goal is to make money and to use that as the identifier of all business measurements.  If you are in business the only thing you should be concerned about is making money, it’s not to provide jobs, it’s not to just make products, and it’s certainly not to fuel a political philosophy that is not aligned with the realities of the world.   Now let’s introduce the great director John Landis whom I am a tremendous fan of but has obviously lost his mind late in life.  Read the linked article for the details, but in essence Landis has forgotten that the reason for a movie studio to exist is to make money.  Disney exists to make money.  The director’s specific job is to make money for the studio, not to sacrifice themselves for some social cause, or to have artistic, and creative freedom to let their “inner voice” speak to a mass audience. The director in the case of a movie or most anything else is there to make a product that the studio can make money off of.  It’s the only thing that matters.


Now obviously to do that the product needs to be desired by the public and in the case of Star Wars it brings a lot of joy to people who go to the movies, buy the toys and video games and in general it is those movies that keep the theater experience going so that directors can work on movies that are not Star Wars and may only appeal to 5% of the population.  Movie theater owners need to make money too just to have a place to show Hollywood products.  The industry is there for them to work because enough money was made with something like Star Wars to allow for other viewpoints in other films to be presented to mass audiences around the world.   If I had to value stream map this situation for studio executives I’d of course designate the consumer at the movie theater as the customer that the value of the product design must appeal to in order to successfully implement the strategic objectives.  These people fired from the various Star Wars projects, like Colin Trevorrow and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, just over the last couple of months were obviously not getting the holistic reason for the Star Wars films getting made.  And what people like John Landis are now criticizing Kathy Kennedy for doing is essentially the labor union point of view from the various entertainment guilds—and that is putting money before art.

I can tell you that growing up all I wanted to be in life was a film maker and an adventurer, something between a Josh Gates and Steven Spielberg.  But when I had the opportunity to work on a few movie sets and talk to people behind the scenes I realized that most of them were Marxists openly pushing for socialism in American society.  So I had to turn away from that industry—sadly.  In the old days these liberals, like John Landis, and Ron Howard had to put up with their stars such as Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis and Clint Eastwood who were all conservative A-listers and Hollywood at least had a nice balance of product to present to the public.  However over the last few decades Hollywood producers looking to appeal to the Clintons and the Obamas in office tried to create a new generation of Marxists to replace the conservative leading men.  They tried to bring progressive ideas to their stories and they figured that if producers gave big explosions and loud music to a movie feature to help the Marxism go down easier, that audiences would stay with them, but that hasn’t happened.   People have just found other things to do.  It should say a lot that Netfllx productions like Stranger Things which is an obvious throwback to the 1980s and the HBO show Game of Thrones which is all about politics set in a kind of Medieval time where all the primal human instincts are explored, lust for power, sex, dominion over others are presented without a lot of subtle global warming messages, and the plight of the poor–the trend toward a customer experience is well-known..  The labor unions in the entertainment industry are looking at their situation and they are blaming Disney for not sticking to their Marxist goals of social reform but instead keeping their focus on “making money.”  Disney currently makes a lot of money off Star Wars and their Marvel projects.  They are giving audiences what they want and in return we give them money.  That’s the name of the game.

Disney to appease the creative labor unions does take up social causes-but it doesn’t help them at all toward The Goal.  They have nearly destroyed the ESPN network with progressive garbage nobody wants to hear tied to sports.  And Kathy Kennedy has messed with Star Wars in ways that could easily destroy it, by putting more of an emphasis on female characters. I don’t have a problem with it, but its a gamble to try to expand the market reach of Star Wars with females at the possible expense of the males. So far so good, but it is a risk worth noting.  Kathy Kennedy is not a Midwestern conservative, she is a social progressive and it shows in her projects.  But at least she understands The Goal which was written by Eliyahu M. Goldratt—and that is to make money.  To make money with Star Wars you must have merchandising—the experience must continue long after customers have left the movie theater.  That means that filmmakers have precisely two hours to create a product that will unleash countless books, comics, toys, t-shirts, bed sheets—you name it.  There isn’t room for some director to “put their own take on things,” they must follow The Goal—and that is to make money for Disney and its shareholders.  That is a very capitalist concept which pisses off the Marxists—but tough luck.  The product does not exist to make a point—it exists to make money because with that money many good things happen.

I went out on Force Friday a few weeks ago to buy a few items.  One of the things I had to get was a Rathtar from The Force Awakens movie, which was released on Force Friday specifically this year ahead of all the new The Last Jedi toys.  Even though I was very hard on The Force Awakens when it came out largely because Kathy Kennedy allowed the franchise to movie away from the line of stories I had been reading for thirty years in the novels and allowed J.J. Abrams to have the creative freedom to write a completely fresh Star Wars story changing the direction of the original novels dramatically, I have respect for the good work done on that movie.  My favorite scene from any movie in recent memory and certainly one of my top ten moments of all time is that scene from The Force Awakens when the Rathtars are introduced.  That was a lot of fun and whenever it’s on television when my grandkids are watching it, I usually stop what I’m doing to see it again.  At Force Friday there were a lot of happy people spending countless thousands of dollars on new merchandise because The Goal of the product which is Star Wars was aligned with their consumer needs.  Disney received a lot of money, which was The Goal, and the consumer got a quality product that spoke to them mythologically in ways they needed—for whatever reason.  The end result was good for all parties in that transaction.  It is not up to some Marxist Hollywood type to question The GoalThe Goal is market driven, it is up to those in the entertainment business to figure out what the consumer wants—not to change the consumer into something the artists wants—do you get what I’m saying—because this relates to virtually everything in our culture.

I have been extremely excited about the new Han Solo movie now directed by Ron Howard.  I think he’s exactly the right guy to make that movie which he had to take over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.  Obviously Larry Kasden who has made some of my favorite movies in the past understands The Goal of Star Wars as a screenwriter.  He may not philosophically like The Goal, but he’s hired to do the job of achieving it—and that’s the difference between professionalism and being a Marxist douche bag.  He’s the writer on this new Han Solo movie along with his son so when the young directors known for The Lego Movie were fired because they didn’t get what Larry was trying to put up on the screen, Ron Howard was brought in to fix things.  I was happy about it because it told me that Lucasfilm understood what The Goal was, and they were committed to it.  I have no doubt that the professionalism of Ron Howard will keep The Goal of the new Han Solo movie in focus and deliver a product that Lucasfilm needs and Disney can continue to use to make a lot of money—which is a wonderful thing.  But I did have to send Ron Howard a Tweet the other day reminding him that all his Donald Trump bashing he has been doing may very well draw a line between him and his audience—half of which like the job Donald Trump is doing.  By politicizing Star Wars, you risk deviating from The Goal, and that is dangerous to everyone involved.  Howard is a smart guy and a fabulous director, but it’s not his job to define The Goal. It’s his job to implement it as the director, and that’s what he was hired for.  All the below Tweets shown below are on Ron Howard’s main page.

The new Star Wars movies may be corporate productions that lack the heart of the solitary vision of George Lucas—but they do understand The Goal and that’s why they are special.  The three measurements in The Goal are throughput, inventory, and operational expense—everything for a successful implementation of a flourishing business model is contained within those three measurements.   Throughput in the case of Star Wars is the delivery of a movie on time from conception to the release date.  Inventory is the resources it takes to make the movie, like directors, writers, studio rentals, building props—all that stuff.  And of course operational expenses are the overall costs of keeping the movie franchise alive as a social mythology, the new theme park attractions, the marketing of merchandise and all the other big picture items.  There is a lot more to a movie than just paying honor to the creative instincts of the film’s directors or the writers.  There is much more to The Goal than just the vision of an artist.  Star Wars is successful because traditionally Lucasfilm understood The Goal.  The Marxist friends of George Lucas may have given him grief over it, but if George had listened, we wouldn’t have Star Wars.  And in that respect, what has John Landis done lately except complain.  He made that famous “Thriller” video like a million years ago.  And The Blues Brothers was made in the 70s.  I would say that Landis like his friend Spielberg has forgotten what The Goal was and instead have adopted that radical Marxism that they all share through their director’s guild.  And lucky for us, who are Star Wars fans, Kathy Kennedy has kept her eye on The Goal and not the socialist sentiments of her entertainment industry friends.   Sure she made the lead actors in most of these new movies a “girl” and she made a black stormtrooper, and put a Hispanic guy in as the lead hot-shot new pilot, which I’m sure made her liberal friends give her less grief over heading a giant capitalist movie studio—but at least she hasn’t forgotten The Goal.  And for that I must commend her.  If she has to fire 200 Star Wars directors she should, because it tells me she is committed to my customer satisfaction and not the social ranting of just another Hollywood Marxist, like John Landis.

Rich Hoffman

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