It’s the question we’ve wondered about since we saw the Star Wars original trilogy. Could the second Death Star have been saved?  What if today’s sustainable practices had been utilized in order to boost production, reduce costs, and make the most efficient use of the available materials?  Would the Empire have won if the Emperor hadn’t passed on false information to the Rebels, thus alerting them to its existence?

What difference would sustainable practices have meant for the Death Star?

Supply Chain Management

One of the problems Moff Tiaan Jerjerrod, the commander in charge of the Death Star’s production, ran into with the Death Star was supply chain breakdown and accompanying budget cuts.  When one considers the size of the Death Star (160 km in diameter) and the required materials, it’s not difficult to imagine that supply chains could be difficult to maintain.  However, this is the Galactic Empire we’re talking about- it has dominion over thousands of planets and trillions of people; even while waging a war with the Rebel Alliance, there were plenty of source for the raw materials.  Not to mention that as a militaristic power that ruled primarily through fear, it would be logical to assume that the Empire could wrest resources from anywhere they pleased.  While the general populace would not have been aware of the Death Star’s existence, they would have been used to the Empire taking what they wanted.  Also, considering that a sizable portion of the Empire’s resources were sunk in finishing the Death Star, it would be logical to assume that for a project of such importance and magnitude, they would make the acquisition of materials a priority.  Additionally, the Death Star was situated to orbit the forest moon of Endor, a rich source of needed elements.  Presumably, they were able to mine their own resources directly from the moon.

However, this brings into play a potential problem with having an object with the mass of the Death Star orbiting the forest moon of Endor.  It’s been speculated that, since the Death Star had to continually be aligned with the bases on the moon in order to keep the shields intact, there would have to be additional propultion on the Death Star to keep it’s orbit constant with the spin of the moon, in addition to keeping a constant distance from the forest moon.  Because the Death Star always occupied that space adjacent to the forest moon, it would have caused both tidal disturbances and possibly quakes on the moon.  THis could have played havoc with the mining efforts on the moon and contributed to the overall shortage of supplies.

Ideally, the Empire would have secured several avenues of resources, and done so in a way that was minimally invasive to the suppliers, cut out any middlemen and minimized the number of hands the goods passed through, and ensured a steady supply of the materials.  Whatever means the Empire used to procure materials, it apparently did none of these things.

People:The Most Valuable Resource

Another issue in which Moff Jerjarrod faced difficulty was a shortage of workers.  While droids performed the majority of the building, it was still necessary for people to both oversee and repair said droids.  The Empire being a militaristic force, it is also possible that the majority of its able people were drafted into the Navy and other military forces, so the number of laborers and craftsmen may have been few and far between.  Also, since the construction of the Death Star was a secret, they were further crippled in their ability to gain workers, since a high level of security was necessary to prevent the premature discovery of the Death Star.  The problem lies not only with the shortage of workers, but also with Moff Jerjarrod and his superiors as well.  A man who worked exhaustively on the Death Star, daily pouring over it’s plans and wading through a sea of endless paperwork, Moff Jerjarrod was nevertheless warned by Darth Vader that unless the Death Star was completed on scheduyle, the wrath of teh Emperor would be forthcoming.  Despite working his men and himself into exhaustion with what he thought of as an impossible task, Moff Jerjarrod did not complete the Death Star by the time the Emperor arrived.

While he was passed over by the Emperor, his inability to complete the project eventually caused the Imperial loss in the Battle of Endor.  However, it is less Moff Jerjarrod’s failing than that of his superior – the Emperor.  The use of fear as a motivator and method of control is an ultimately destructive practice, as evidenced by the Empire.  It can bring order and discipline-to a point- but there is no love lsot between ruler and subjects, and that can lead to downfall as surely as poor planning skills and project management.  The Empire did not buy into the idea that “a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.”  If the triple bottom line had been implemented, particulary in the ‘people’ area, and people were encouraged to take an active part in development, if they were made to feel part of the bigger picture, who knows how far teh Empire could have gotten?  Alas, the Empire’s disregard for people shorted them in an area they really could not afford.  People who are not valued will not produce value.  But what else would you expect from an insititution founded on one evil man’s idea of total control?

Learning from the Past

In addition to its other problems the Empire seemed to have forgotten that, ultimately, simpler is better  Ther terminal fault of the first Death Star, the vulnerable thermal exhaust vent was reconfigured in the second Death Star.  Instead of one larger vent, there were numerous tiny ones that were heavily armored and could close to avoid any projectiles.  The time required to build the Death Star was also minimized – 4 or 5 years as compared to 22 for the original Death Star – but the original fault of the Empire remained: overconfidence.  The Empire demonstrated a lack of self-awareness that is crippling;no one seemed to realize the toll their regime took on the galaxy or, indeed, on itself and its own people.  The totalitarian Empire is meant to evoke images of Nazism, and it fulfills its purpose.  However, it failed to understand that when evil is rampant, sooner or later, good will rise up to confront it.

Sustainability practices involve frank assessments of a business’s impact on people and the environment.  It is a struggle to better not only your business, but yourself, and encourage your people to do the same.

Would sustainable practices have ensured the completion and survival of the Death Star?  Absolutely.  But in doing so, they would have negated the need for such a weapon.