Guardians of the eDiscovery Galaxy
I embraced my inner nerdiness watching the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “The Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3.” Sure, catching a Hollywood blockbuster Marvel movie might not be particularly nerdy. But discovering how its overarching themes connect to our peculiar eDiscovery universe? That's next-level geekiness.
And no, I am not joking!
Seriously though, the film is about a ragtag team of oddballs with big-time skills and even bigger-time personalities... sort of a perfect analog for eDiscovery! Have you ever wondered how the dynamic, intergalactic misfits from the Guardians of the Galaxy could offer insights into the complex world of eDiscovery? Well, buckle up. We're about to embark on an out-of-this-world journey where we'll explore the eDiscovery galaxy through the lens of my favorite cosmic antiheroes.
Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Drax, and Mantis each bring their unique skills and personalities to the table, much like an all-star eDiscovery team. So, hold onto your Infinity Stones. And get ready to dive into an entertaining and insightful exploration of eDiscovery, Guardians of the Galaxy style!
“You’re a Bad Dog” - The Power of Encouragement
In keeping with Marvel movie’s tendency to anthropomorphize furry friends, this installment of The Guardians brought the character Cosmo to the forefront. A plucky Russian space dog, complete with space suit and telekinesis capabilities, Cosmo wants nothing more than to receive recognition for a job well done.
In a fit of insecurity, the space dog’s BFF Kraglin shouted that Cosmo was a “bad dog” and refused to take it back. It took the space dog stepping up to save the day before his BFF rescinded his criticism in favor of a coveted “good dog.” And in true Hollywood style, Cosmo was able to muster some extra telekinetic awesomeness and save the day.
In terms of eDiscovery teams, the takeaway is that we should not be too proud to take back hastily made statements in the heat of the moment. It is ever so human to get frustrated, but each of us as members of the team crave validation and recognition of a job well done.
The survival of the planet as we know it may not rest on the shoulders of case teams, but that does not mean the pressure and stakes are not steep. Recognizing the exemplary efforts of one team member does not lessen any member of the team and especially not a leader. Compliments and recognition cost you nothing and can empower your team to go that little bit further.
“You Never Asked” - Don’t Box in Your Team
At 6’5 300 lb. Drax the alien destroyer in The Guardians is no shrinking violet. But he has most certainly been painted in a corner by his team as just being a beefy dumb-dumb. Cyborg Nebula, Empath Mantis, and Drax find themselves scrambling to save hundreds of children but are unable to communicate with them.
After some comedic gold attempts to pantomime with the children, Drax steps forward and seamlessly has a conversation in the tongue of the kiddies. When asked why he never spoke up about having this skill, the big man simply shrugged and stated, “You never asked.”
Between Dave Bautista’s hulking frame and the character’s propensity to take things oh so literally, one cannot blame these defenders for not guessing his linguistic prowess. It is a great reminder not to judge a book, or alien teammate by their heavily slightly dim or hulking appearances.
What does this mean for an eDiscovery team? Do not box in your team based on what you think they can do... ask the team if people have specific skills with data types, cases, or other eDiscovery challenges. Inquire of your teammates have linguistic or technical capabilities before just assigning tasks. You might just be surprised.
"Even My Butt Can Make Metaphors" - Know Your Team’s Strengths
There is a flip side to not boxing in members of your team based on misconceptions. Do not force members of your team into performing tasks or activities you know full well are beyond their capability.
In the film, high EQ telepathic Mantis had a poor oh so literal Drax attempt to have an empathetic and metaphor-filled conversation with the team captain Star Lord. The message was well received. But, when Drax was pressed to create metaphors, the result was a comedic diatribe culminating with “even my butt can make metaphors.
So, the net-net? Support and back your team to spread their wings, but maybe do not push the bird out of the nest when you know that is absolutely cannot fly!
“Your Friend’s a Moron. I Got One of Those Too. I Get It” - Empathize With the Other Side
When the Guardians found themselves exposed in a cheeky undercover operation, the quick-witted Starlord (aka Peter Quill) quickly sought to connect with and disarm the security patrol by quipping about Drax making a dumb mistake. While I would never encourage any case team to throw a member under the bus, the reaction of the security patrol of “Your Friend’s a Moron. I Got One of Those Too. I Get It” is a good reminder that even opposing sides are not that different.
Understanding that both parties are under similar time pressures and data constraints might just help diffuse even the most contentious eDiscovery Meet and confer... or at least make for some good commiseration after the fact.
“He Didn’t Want to Make Things Perfect. He Just Hated the Way Things Are” - Don’t Let Great Be the Enemy of Good
In the film3, the main villain is the High Evolutionary. Actor Chukwudi Iwuji paints a stark picture of a eugenics-crazed leader seeking perfection by remaking the world by whatever barbaric means necessary.
Rocket Raccoon suffered at the hands of his creator the High Evolutionary. When the two faced off, Rocket disagreed with the High Evolutionary’s claim about wanting to create a perfect society. Nothing he was not seeking some Utopia so much as Hating the way things were.
This villain created more destruction than good by hating the status quo and blindly trying to remake the world around him. So too, case teams without a clear objective to improve can burn it all down in the hopes of changing things they hate. Rather than slashing and burning... or throwing the baby out with the bath water... a smart case team objectively analyzes the current state before marshaling vast changes.
“Quite a Novel Escape Plan. Jumping Headfirst Into an Exploding Planet” - Trust Your Team!
While most eDiscovery case teams do not have to leap blindly from a Spacecraft rocketing into the stratosphere onto an exploding planet... the stakes can feel nearly as stark. IN the recent film, Peter Quill had to take that leap of faith and trust his team to perform their roles to survive. In the film, The Starlord trusted the oh-so-chatty Groot, to execute exactly as needed to save the day.
Trusting your team, even on high-profile and high-stakes cases can be challenging. But it is ultimately necessary to save the eDiscovery galaxy. Your eDiscovery specialists and project managers may not be able to manifest treelike wings on command. But they can deliver flawless processing, analysis, and workflow. Both can save the day.
eDiscovery Blast Off
As we come back down to Earth and re-enter the quirky sphere of eDiscovery, let's remember the lessons and camaraderie that our cosmic heroes shared with us. By channeling our inner geekiness and taking a page from the Guardians' playbook of teamwork and resourcefulness, we can become eDiscovery dynamos.
So, go on and crush your eDiscovery projects with the swagger of Star-Lord, the precision of Gamora, the tech know-how of Rocket, the adaptability of Groot, the straight-talk of Drax, the empathy of Mantis, and the resourcefulness of Yondu!
And never forget Star-Lord's wise words, "Sometimes, the thing you've been looking for your whole life is right there beside you all along." Let's keep pushing boundaries, exploring uncharted territory, and revolutionizing eDiscovery, all while channeling our inner Guardians of the Galaxy!