Sunday, 15 April 2012

Reliability, Relationships, and Responsibility: Three Failings of Doom

Welcome back to Funding the Kryptonite, a blog that will take a look at comic book super villains and discuss them from a business perspective.

Today’s post will focus on one Victor Von Doom, better known to the Marvel Universe as Doctor Doom. Famed arch nemesis of the Fantastic Four, and Reed Richards in particular, his rise to power was chronicled in an excellent miniseries titled Books of Doom. I’m going to discuss some of his decisions and their outcomes in his early career path, and why I believe they were bad.

Morally Ambiguous Doctorate (Thanks TVTropes!):

Born in the Eastern European country of Latveria, Victor Von Doom was born to a gypsy couple. His mother practiced witchcraft and died when he was quite young. His father earned the ire of the local Baron, and fled into the hills with Victor after he was unable to help the Baron’s wife with her cancer illness. This led to his death from exposure, leaving Von Doom an orphan. Through his extraordinary intellect, his prowess with technology spread worldwide and he was invited by the US military to America to develop weapons and other war-based technologies for them. It was here he first encountered his eventual nemesis, Reed Richards.

Following the horrific failure of his attempt to combine science and sorcery into a machine that would allow him to challenge a demon for control of his mother’s soul, Doom fled back to Europe a scarred and broken man. Approached by agents of the Soviet Union to work for them, he rejected their advances. This led to an attack on him and his childhood lover, Valeria. Realizing his position, he went in search of an order of monks who had learned the secrets of melding science and magic. He found them and learned their knowledge, crowning himself Doctor Doom. He would then return to Latveria, organize an uprising against the Baron of his youth and seize control of the country along with the monarchy.

Testing for Doom:

One of Doom’s biggest mistakes was assuming that, because he crunched the math and did all his calculations, his plan was flawless and thus could immediately go operational. This is especially troublesome given that it was not as though this particular experiment was a matter of refining an already established invention, but was a new innovation in melding magic and machinery into opening a trans-dimensional portal to where a demonic being hangs out. And, as icing on the cake, he was the first to try out the machine.

Companies avoid diving whole hog into brand new big changes by using pilot projects, smaller scaled versions of the change or product they want to test in areas they feel are representative of their demographic targets as a whole. So if a grocery store wants to try a new layout to test customer reaction, or a retailer wants to see if their electronic checkout system will be accepted by the public, they don’t change everything at every location at once. This allows them to gather valuable data on the process, make improvements, and then roll it out across the board.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia:

After Doom returned to Eastern Europe to hide from the Americans following the accident that disfigured him, he was approached by agents of the Soviet Union and offered a similar position with their country to produce technology and weapons. Doom rejects their offer, and then attacks the operatives to scare them off as a show of strength. He then promises that if they approach him again, he would kill them.

This goes back to stakeholder analysis, and how poorly handling a stakeholder can turn them against you. Here the Russians are coming to Doom as a Savior, due to their high interest/power and positive attitude. Instead, in a similar manner to Alexander Luthor Jr., the Russians are converted to Terrorist stakeholders who now actively oppose Doom.


During his time with the mountain monks who improved his knowledge of how to meld the twin worlds of science and magic, Doom built an impressive receiver array that would gather radio and television signals to continuously bring him information. Upon seeing the face of Reed Richards in one of those broadcasts, his failure at the US laboratory was rekindled in his mind and he resolved to place the blame for that experiment going awry on the future Mr. Fantastic. After all, he came right before the experiment and saw Doom’s calculations. In the mind of Doom, he now interpreted this as a deliberate sabotage by Richards.

Part of successful leadership involves the capacity for self-improvement, and that stems from the ability to accept responsibility for one’s own failings and learn lessons from it. Once those lessons are internalized, changes can be effected to improve in the future. By absolving himself of blame and placing it on the shoulders of Reed Richards, Doom limits himself.

Closing comments:

Despite these setbacks, it is important to note that Doom is still a force to be reckoned with. His accomplishments in the Marvel Universe are the stuff of legend, and as a result he occupies a solid place on the A-list of super villains.

And, difficult as it was, I turned my back on her again… Destiny had reared its terrible head once more, and I knew I must follow where it led.” –Dr. Doom (Books of Doom, #3)

Final Rating: Bad business!
Thank you for reading and please hit me up with your comments.

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