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Christopher Morgan | December 15, 2015

Why Darth Vader Needed a Problem Manager - Episode I

Episode I: Why You Should Never Underestimate the Power of Problem Management

Christopher Morgan is a Senior Solution Consultant with EasyVista, a provider of IT Service Management software platforms that help organizations consumerize their IT. This is a three-part essay on the value of having a Problem Management process in place, set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…


There’s a furor of excitement as fans around the world are getting ready for the release of Star Wars Episode VII this week and I felt it was the perfect time for you to Awaken your IT organization and do an analysis of what we can actually learn from the films and apply to our daily jobs.

Let’s recap a bit on the story first introduced to audiences in 1977; Darth Vader at the helm of the evil Galactic Empire has just created the ultimate weapon in the galaxy. The moon-sized DEATH STAR has enough firepower to obliterate an entire planet and they intend to use this power to cripple our protagonists, the Rebel Alliance.

Through intelligence gathering, the Rebels are able to analyze the empire’s battle station, identify a previously unknown weakness (a zero-day exploit, if you will) and using an unconventional and unexpected tactic (small, single-man fighters), destroy the DEATH STAR.

Two films and a few years later, in “Return of the Jedi”, the Rebels launch an extremely similar assault on the DEATH STAR version 2, which although more-powerful, succumbs to the same explosive fate*.

Billions of funds, countless lives, and an entire government are instantly lost. It’s shocking and yet we let the same thing happen to us today – a long, long time later in our own galaxy – with our corporate IT systems because we don’t bother to do Problem Management within our enterprise.

Let’s now recap on what Problem Management is (and what it isn’t).

ITIL tells us that a Problem is a collection of related Incidents where we don’t yet know the root cause. We use Problem Management to prevent Problems, prevent Incidents, minimize outages, and set the goals for resolution through Change Management and Release Management.

In an office environment, I like to use the example that if the trash can in the conference room is overflowing, we call that an Incident. If it overflows on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that’s a problem. The root cause may be that the trash can is too small for the required job (ahem, Capacity Management), or the cleaning crew isn’t doing their job. We don’t know yet and the Problem Management process exists to help us find out, and then develop a process to stop it from happening.

I’d certainly categorize losing two moon-sized battle stations to enemy forces a Problem as well. As with many aspects of Problem Management, we can look back in hindsight to aide the dark lord and his Galactic Empire.

What elements of a good Problem Management process did Darth Vader miss? Check out Episode II: Problem Management: It's not a Trap! for the key steps he should have followed.

*Yes, I have taken some liberties with the plotline for the purpose of this short article. Do not try to out-nerd me on this, as I will find it “all too easy” to destroy you.


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Christopher Morgan

Christopher Morgan is a Senior Solution Consultant at EasyVista and an expert on modern solutions for enterprise service management. He is excited to share his extensive ITSM knowledge to help you deliver real business value to your organization. Chris lives in San Diego, CA where he enjoys craft beer, mountain biking and his Belgian Malinois, Ele.