Dec. 1, 2020

015: ENT: Marauders

Do you give them a fish, or teach them to fish?

On this episode, Jeff Akin reviews Star Trek Enterprise, Marauders (Season 2, Episode 6). He will examine the leadership approaches of Captain Archer.

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Welcome, everyone! I’m anxious to get into this episode. This will be our third episode watching Enterprise, and by my score, Archer is 0 and 2 so far. Let’s see if the third time’s the charm as we start the 6th episode of the 2nd season of Enterprise, Marauders. 


Settlement on a barren, desert planet. There’s a kid running around and people working. Looks rough. They see a shuttle heading towards them and ask, “is it them?” Who, we do not know, since this shuttle, one of Enterprise’s, is not who they were expecting. 

Archer, T’Pol and Tucker, in their desert gear, come out to meet the settlers. They’re looking to trade for deuterium. Deuterium is used as fuel for the anti-matter and matter reactions necessary to power a starship. The settler, Tessic, says they have nothing to trade as they have 2 pumps off line. T’Pol says they have scanned them and knows they have a large inventory, so the negotiations begin; Tessic does not want to trade with them, but all 3 officers keep on it. They take offense to being scanned and Archer apologizes - good for him! I feel like I have to reinforce is positive behaviors!! One of the other settlers asks if they can help repair their pumps. Trip agrees to give it a shot. This helps the negotiations continue.

I really liked Archer in this exchange. He was still more firm than I would expect, but was likely trying to establish a power position for the negotiation; not a tactic I would use but one that many do. But in this scene he listens, he owns a misstep and looks for opportunities to not only get what he and his crew needs but also what the settlers may need. 

We talked a little about negotiations in the Homestead episode when Neelix was working to help the Talaxian colony. We talked about the win-win-win approach to negotiations. Generally speaking, and as I see the win-win-win scenario, this is where the 2 sides negotiating get a win but so does a greater cause. In Homestead it was a solution where everyone got something they wanted and no one had to be hurt; a much greater good. In many public-private negotiations the community may be the greater good, or the environment. At this point in the episode, and in the negotiation, Archer is working towards win-win, the classic best approach to an outcome - he wins by getting deuterium and the settlers win by getting their pumps repaired. Let’s watch and see if a greater good reveals itself and if anyone incorporates that to move towards a win-win-win.

Trip’s grabbing his tools and finds the kid, Kell in the shuttle. He’s interested in the ships that come by. So, Trip brags the shuttle up a little bit and the kid’s impressed that he’s a pilot. He invites Kell to come to the ship for a tour, if it’s cool with his parents.

The negotiations are continuing, and they’re not going great. But, they’re still going and that’s enough for Archer! They are saying the labor necessary to refine the deuterium is significant, so Archer owns his ignorance and asks to see how it all works. This is great!! When you don’t understand something, go look at it! Don’t let someone try and explain it to you, just go look! 

We’ve talked about gemba walks a few times on this podcast; this is going to the place the work is being done to observe and learn; to oversimplify. But we looked at those in terms of management. This is an example of when it can come into play in a negotiation. When you go to look at, or to buy a car, what is the salesperson trying to do, right out of the gate? Get you in the vehicle for a test drive! They want to show you what the car can do. They want you to have an experience that helps you want to buy that car. Seeing it and driving it helps you make a decision.

Let’s take it up a level. Let’s say you have an opportunity to invest in a business or a product. You’ve read through the business plan and seen the financials…are you ready to write a check? I sure hope not! You want to see the business, somehow experience the concept, maybe use the product. Once you see how it works, it gives you knowledge and leverage. “I see you’re asking for $100k here, but I also saw you haven’t worked out the problem with the thing that does that thing. What do you say I give you $25k for the same stake and we focus on resolving that issue.” I know that’s a super specific example, but hopefully you get the gist. Sight unseen, you could be out a hundred grand here, but going and seeing how it works gave you an entirely different perspective and changed your negotiating position. 

Well, Tessic isn’t as impressed as I am. Ultimately they come to an agreement, specifically when medical supplies come into play. But the deal hinges on getting the pumps back up and running. 
Tessic lays some rules down there. 2 days, period. 2 days and they’re gone. If the pumps are fixed they leave with deuterium, if they’re not fixed, they leave empty handed. He’s intense here. There’s something going on here, but no one has clued into it yet.

On Enterprise, Phlox is hooking the settlers up with medical supplies. He’s pretty surprised as they seem to need very basic supplies, and some that arouse suspicion - you know, the ones that deal with plasma burns and other super dangerous incidents. They have an answer for everything he asks, but they seem, well, afraid. 

Archer and T’Pol are walking through the settlement and are remarking on what bad shape it’s in. With the high margins on deuterium he expected the place to be in really good shape. He’s starting to put the pieces together as Phlox updated him on the medical supply situation. T’Pol just wants to get the trade done but Archer is interested in what’s going on.

And we find out right away! Mayweather picks up a ship entering the system. They’re Klingon. Tessic alerts the settlers, let’s them know Korok is here ahead of schedule and that they need wrap up work and get everyone inside. 

The settlers are hunkering down and Tessic asks that no gets involved. In the past when they’ve arrived and others have been there, they get very upset; you see they, Korok and his crew, believe they are the exclusive customers of this settlement. Archer begrudgingly agrees and orders Enterprise to adjust its orbit and to stay out of sight. 

Korok arrives and Tessic tries to let him know they’re having issues with the pumps, but Korok doesn’t even acknowledge what he said. He wants to eat and drink, likely at the settler’s expense, before discussing business. Tessic sticks to it, though and tells them, again, they don’t have what was expected. 

Pretty standard extortion stuff here (we’ll take all of it, now). Korok assaults Tessic and his aid, and then gives them 4 days to have the whole shipment ready for them, and they beam away. 

Archer and Trip start grilling them (how long have these bullies). Tessic seems good with it, though. The living they’re able to eek out is sufficient for him. Trip wants them to fight back, but they did, and 8 people died, including Kell’s father. They have no appetite to fight again.

Archer offers to help but Tessic tells him to take his 200 liters and leave. So they return to Enterprise, but Trip sticks around. He pairs off with Kell and they talk ships a bit. Kell wonders why they didn’t fight the Klingons, and Trip has a hard time answering him. 

On the ship, T’Pol and Archer discuss the situation. In her opinion, they have the deuterium and they should leave. Archer’s hot, though. The scans Reed took of their ship show it was barely even a freighter; these are bottom rung Klingons bullying a small group of settlers. He suggests reaching out to the Klingon High Council but T’Pol disagrees (I doubt they answer to the…). They agree, eventually, they should do something, but anything short of killing them will only make the situation worse.

After some problem solving, Archer joins Tessic on the surface as he repairs some more equipment. He helps out as they talk about Korok and his marauders. Tessic is adamant that is isn’t Archer’s concern. He doesn’t stop, though. Archer offers to train the settlers; help them prepare. But Tessic sees himself as the protector (they depend on me!). But he talks himself through it. Archer pulls him through to the agreement though, (there’s a saying on my world).

Dude! Archer’s doing great here! He comes in with a game plan. He’s done his research (I was talking with my tactical officer). Then when he talks to Tessic he listens. He adapts his messaging to match his needs and the worries. He offers help, sustainable help. He motivates Tessic to take action and to what he wants to do, what he believes is his responsibility - to protect his people. 

We’ve got Reed, T’Pol and Trip checking out the settler’s weapons. They want Enterprise weapons, the big guns! Reed refuses and says deception and surprise will serve them better than brute force. Archer comes in and lays out the plan. They’re going to trick the Klingons into standing in the middle of the deuterium field by literally moving the settlement! They identify settlers that have some experience with weapons and send them to Enterprise for some training. Everyone loves the plan and they get to work. 

Some great scenes of everyone working together. Hm, reminds me of something. I just can’t put my finger on it…maybe it’ll come to me later. 

Reed and Hoshi are training the settlers on Enterprise. Turns out Hoshi’s a total badass…who knew! 

Archer’s in there, getting his hands dirty, doing the work. He and Trip check in on their progress. Trip has his doubts about the plan, so Archer takes time to talk through it with him. He makes it personal. He doesn’t like bullies.

This is a short scene but important - and not just for the anti-bullying message, which is also important. It’s important, though, for two, big reasons: Checking in on progress and taking the time refocus the purpose. When you’re in the throes of a project, it ca be tempting to go heads down and just work. It’s critical to pause to check your progress, hopefully against a project plan or even a work breakdown structure, ideally, that you put together before the project kicked off. If these check-ins are boring and uneventful, that’s because everything is going according to plan - that’s great! 

But that almost never happens, right? The check-ins allow you to adjust plans, reallocate resources, or reset milestones. If nothing else, as in this scene, it gives an opportunity to remind people of purpose or goal. Trip is having doubts about their approach, and they’re legitimate. Archer attempts to address them, though by looking at the purpose, the reason they’re doing this work. 

If you’re running a project, or dedicating resources to something, and you don’t know the purpose, you don’t know why…that is a problem! Beyond that, though, what if your purpose isn’t relevant any more? Maybe you started a project 2 years ago, or more, and the problem you were trying to solve just isn’t a problem any more, or your priorities have sifted. Maybe, hypothetically, you had a huge project that suddenly became meaningless because a pandemic swept the world and changed the whole game! If you’re not doing regular check-ins, you will not be in a position to respond to that, you know, hypothetical change. 

Back on the ship Mayweather and T’Pol are teaching some hand-to-hand combat, to avoid getting hit. It’s Suus Manna, actually! Perfect little throwback to the last episode of the podcast when we saw Michael Burnham bust this out! 

T’Pol gives some pretty explicit details on Klingon weapons, specifically the bat’leth and the men’leth <disembowel>.  Gosh, I really wish I could remember what this is making me think of; it’s right on the tip of my tongue. 

The kid, Kell, wants to fight. He’s talking to Trip about it and complaining that he has to hide out in the canyon. Trip explains one of Malcolm Reed’s rules - taller than the gun. Trip reinforces Reed’s rule and tells Kell to follow orders. 

Trip is rigging the wellheads in the field to detonate. He and another settler are camouflaging the area. Once they’re done, the plan is all set. 

Tessic and Archer meet up. Tessic is having doubts; understandable - they’re about to do the unthinkable, standing up to a bully! So Archer tells the story of Broken Bow. He talks about how battle wasn’t what he signed up for, but it was what he needed to do. He encourages Tessic and says he knows they can do this. And, just in time, the Klingon ship shows up again. 

The day has arrived. We see a gentle breeze sweep across the empty settlement; I almost expected a tumbleweed to blow past. The Klingons beam in and there’s no one to be found. They start looking for the settlers, blasting disruptors in the air and shouting. One of the settlers runs off - the plan kicks off. Klingons are running into traps, some are getting blasted with phasers. We se all the training they conducted pay off. We even see T’Pol bust out that Suus Manna as she takes a big guy down!

The Klingons regroup and spot them hiding in the canyon. Some cat and mouse as they try and position the Klingons on the wellheads they set up. They get them there, and they ignore the wellheads, surrounding the Klingons! Archer sends Tessic out to confront them. Korok threatens him but Tessic stands up to them. He insults the settler’s deuterium, and they beam out. The settlers won!!

Afterwards, Trip meets Kell in the shuttle. Trip gives him blueprints and schematics for Enterprise and he’s super excited. They have a short, but emotional farewell as Archer and T’Pol meet with Tessic. The settlers give them 2,000 liters of deuterium in thanks. Archer wishes them well, and they return to Enterprise. 

<<Red Alert>>

This was a fun episode. Nothing big or dramatic, just fun. I did like it better the first time I saw it, though, when it was called the Seven Samurai. And I actually liked it even better the second time I saw it, when it was called the Magnificent Seven! That’s what was on the tip of my tongue the whole time! But, this is Star Trek’s version of the classic story, and they did ok with it. 

No real threats in this, no bits of incredible lore or canon; just a fun episode that didn’t really mean anything. We got to know some of the characters a little more; who knew Hoshi could handle a rifle like that?? And we saw Reed shine as a tactician. We also got to see Travis Mayweather…well, yeah, we got to see him. There’s that. 

Back in the days of 26 episode seasons, you got some filler, and this was definitely that. But it was well done filler; especially if you enjoyed the Magnificent Seven!

<<Command Codes>>

This is our 3rd episode of Enterprise we’ve reviewed. Archer has been 0 and 2 so far. So how does he fare after this one? I’d say surprisingly well! 

In an episode that didn’t give us much, Archer did very well. I want to focus on three things I think he did really well: negotiating, innovative thinking and skill building.

Earlier we asked if a greater good would revel itself that would offer an opportunity to work for a win-win-win solution to the initial deuterium in exchange for power cells deal. It sure did! I mean, there’s a version of this episode where the settlers get power cells, some medical supplies and their pumps repaired while Enterprise gets 200 liters of deuterium and then they leave. Win-win, right? I mean, there are entire books written on how just that was a good deal. Both sides got a little of what they wanted, but neither side got everything they wanted. 

That is the fundamental flaw in the compromise approach to negotiating, an approach many take with the intention of achieving a win-win. Generally speaking, neither side truly wins; they gave something up so they other party could get something. We call it win-win, because it’s not a bad outcome, and at least the deal was made. But this cover up that middle ground between winning and losing. The ground I call, “not losing.” In a traditional win-win, it’s more like not lose-not lose. 

Do you see where I’m going here? In the original deal, they both left with something, but their real problems still existed. 200 liters wasn’t enough for Enterprise; it would likely just be enough to get them to somewhere else they could try and swing a deal. And the settlers would have power cells and supplies, but they wouldn’t last long. Plus, the piece that brings in the third win, they’d still be harassed by the Klingons. Basically, the win-win scenario just delayed the pain for both parties.

After the run-in with Korok on his crew, though, Archer saw a possibility. And, what impresses me even more, based on the end of the episode, is that he didn’t see that possibility as an opportunity for more deuterium; he saw it as an opportunity to help people. This led to more deuterium, but that was because the settlers were not only grateful, but also good people. 

Even if they had not offered the 2,000 liters at the end, Archer turned this into a win-win-win because both parties still didn’t lose, but they solved a root problem for the settlers. A much greater good. 

With the values of Starfleet, though, they couldn’t help the settlers by just blowing up the Klingon ship, though that must have been tempting for them. No, they had to find a more diplomatic solution. And, in this case, innovative thinking. 

Innovation has become such a buzz word, joining others such as synergy, ideate, empowerment and right-sizing. Sad thing is, it has become a buzz word because almost no one actually does it. It just looks really progressive to have on your corporate values poster. 

Think about it. When was the last time someone in your world truly innovated? And not like, “oh use this quick step in Outlook to save time.” But truly shook it all up and innovated. Like, realizing fax is an antiquated and insecure communication method so you not only discourage faxing - that’s the point most quote innovators would stop - but getting rid of it. Disconnecting the numbers and straight up not allowing it.

Now that may not be the best example, but it’s one close to my heart - which says a lot about the things that are close to my heart, I guess. Hm, maybe it’s time for some soul searching. 

But, you want to talk innovation? Let’s talk about moving a settlement! Can’t fight ‘em, gotta trick ‘em. But they’re not dumb. Hm, what to do? Move the settlement. Brilliant!!

Imagine if you or your leaders thought like that, and were able to execute! What is stopping you from meeting your goals, achieving your milestones? What if you could move your settlement, and change the proverbial layout? Could it look different? Could it be better? Well, you’ll never know unless you at least think about it! But, in this case, Archer thought about it, sure, but, much more importantly, he did it!! 

Finally, skill building. Archer was preparing a group of people that had bullied for years. I mean, you could outright call them victims of bullying for the last few years. While the Enterprise crew could fight these Klingons off and solve the immediate problem, Archer knew that he has to build these people up. He had to leave them better than he found them. And he did this by building up their skills as a mechanism to build up their confidence.

His line, give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, is supremely powerful. As a leader, how often do you step in to handle the thing? We’ve seen Archer himself do this a number of times! Take the time to teach others.

Let’s say you are a beast when it comes to writing SQL queries. Someone needs data, you can write that query up and coke bottle glasses across the office will fog up from the tears as people gaze upon the flawless beauty of your work. Problem is, you’re the leader of the SQL query writers. In this scenario we’ll say it’s a team of 5 query writers. They’re good, totally competent, but you are an artist. But now, imagine developing those 5 into artists! Now, your organization has 6 of you instead of just one. How great is that??

Real example. In my organization, we’re about to implement a new piece of software that will change almost everything about how we do our core functions. It’s a huge project. I have confidence in my project team and developers; the software will be great. What I’m focused on is change management; the people-side of change management. Now we’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but not this example.

In my position and role, I have oversight of the entire operation; I generally do not get involved in day-to-day operations; my amazing management teams do that. My challenge is that I am a certified change management specialist and I absolutely love leading people through the various phases of change. But that’s not my job.

The person in the role that is responsible for this has never led a change initiative before. They have extensive project management experience, but they haven’t prepared people for change. As desperately as I want to take the reins and do the stuff, I am letting them. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m leaving them on their own, sink or swim style. No. We meet regularly, I attend some of his team’s meetings to listen and observe. I did an initial training at the kickoff for them and their team. But this is their thing now. 

Is it going to work out? Yeah, it’ll work out. But it’s killing me a little bit! But wha I know is that when we’ve gotten through this, I’ll have another experienced change leader on my team. Not just me. And when the next initiative comes around, we’ll be able to develop someone else. It’s not about carving out a little niche for yourself; it’s about developing your teams so any of you can do amazing things when the opportunities arrive. 

Archer takes this approach. He leverages the expertise of his whole crew, but especially Malcolm Reed. They teach as much as they can in the constrained time period to keep everyone safe during the battle, but, more importantly, to give them the confidence to stand up to the Klingons. 

The climax of this comes when Korok and the Klingons are surrounded by burning deuterium and he sends Tessic out to confront them. Tessic is prepared, thanks to Archer and his team, and is successful. That success is huge!! He now has the reinforced confidence he will need to continue to provide for and protect the settlers. If someone else comes along and tries to take advantage of them, they are now much, much more prepared. 

I’ve been pretty harsh towards Archer so far, so I’ll give full credit here. He did a great job. This shows that people can grow as leaders and that experience matters. 

<<Hailing Frequencies>>

What are your thoughts? Anything I didn’t catch on here? Any Ah-Ha’s for you? I’m on all the social media @jefftakin Jeff, t as in teach, a k i n. And, I’d like to ask a favor. If you have enjoyed the Starfleet Leadership Academy, please tell a friend or colleague about it.

Now let’s see what we’re going to watch next time…. 

We’re creating our own deuterium saga here! Season 4, episode 22 of Voyager, Unforgettable; a Chaoktay episode! Looking forward to it! 

Until then, Ex Astris Scientia!