Ellen Ripley may be the iconic hero of the Alien franchise, but if you’re looking for the source of the whole sordid saga, almost every terrible twist can be traced back to one character’s crucial business decision. When a crew member is attacked by an alien parasite, safety regulations dictate that he should be quarantined – but the Nostromo’s Science Officer, Ash, overrules Ripley and seals the crew’s fate by allowing the xenomorph on board. Why?
As it turns out (spoilers!) Ash is chasing the tantalising performance metric that can make, break, guide, or baffle businesses for the sake of a few decimal points – Return on Investment. A deadly alien life form with acid for blood is far more valuable than a few crew members, the company reasons, so it makes financial sense to risk their lives. In fact Ash is willing to risk just about everything to bring the creature home, setting the stage for a full franchise of deep space carnage.
Focusing on ROI is all very well, and can be a useful gauge of your company’s performance and operational efficiency. Beware the seed it can plant inside you, though! Don’t fall prey to Ash’s robotic mindset, putting potential profits above the wellbeing of your customers and employees. Sunk cost fallacy can lead even the most logical thinker to believe that committing to a bad decision is the only way to salvage it. In reality, you will likely waste more resources dealing with the alien scourge ravaging humanity for the next 200 years than you would just shooting the creature out of an airlock in the first place.
If you’re wrestling with your priorities and policies as a startup, SIE’s senior business advisors can help. Get in touch for free, personal advice. Or, if you’re looking for funding and support with more ethics and fewer demands than the board of Weylan-Yutani, enter your business idea in our Fresh Ideas Competition to win cash prizes and expert coaching!