Sunday, 3 June 2012

Universal Mismanagement: The Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps

Welcome to Funding the Kryptonite, where we will look at the plans of comic book super villains and discuss them from a business perspective.

In today’s post, I’m going to discuss the management of a galaxy spanning organization of space cops. They’re small, blue, and known as the Guardians of the Universe. The head of the relatively heroic organization known as the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians are actually pretty generally awful people and I have no issues with considering them to be supervillains. That being said, I’m going to grab a list of bad management traits and see how they stack up against them.

Source: via David on Pinterest

Always Cleaning Up

Bad managers are usually working to “clean up” the problems of their predecessors, even when none existed. This allows them to claim that actually meeting the requirements of their post can’t be done at the moment, because of the backlog and other whatnot that needs handling. While the Guardians don’t really have predecessors, it is often the case that they are busy cleaning up their own messes on such a regular basis that they don’t actually bother overseeing much of the Corps.

Always Busy

Pretty much what it says, bad management is perpetually busy working on projects that are outside of their managerial responsibilities. Such projects are always allegedly vital to the success of the organization, so once again they can’t focus on their core tasks. The Guardians, wonderful people that they are, are rarely working on improving the Corps and its mission. Instead, they’re busy establishing new processes and projects to occupy themselves (such as the creation of the Alpha Lanterns and the discussion of the new laws of the Corps).

Plays The Goals Game

Bad managers give very themselves a lot of flexibility in the goals set for their departments and the people they manage. This allows them to miss the goal and claim they’re being successful anyways. The Guardians tend to not set any specific goals, especially nothing with metrics, and claim they’re being successful no matter what they do.

Manages From Afar

Self-explanatory. If you’re not around, you can still take credit for success but claim ignorance if things go downhill under your watch. The Guardians enjoy having a private lockup session in their citadel pretty much all the time, which is the definition of far away.

Blames Others

Again, pretty self-explanatory. The cause of any problem is anything but the manager themselves. In the case of the Guardians, they routinely lay the blame for any and all problems, especially ones they’ve caused, at the feet of the Green Lanterns themselves. An excellent recent example is how one of their number, Krona, went renegade and nearly took the entire Corps. Their response? Blame Hal Jordan!

Make Big Plans

Bad managers love grandiose plans, then bury all sorts of assumptions and preconditions and disclaimers in the fine print that most people won’t read. It makes them sound good, and then allows them to cover their asses later on. The Guardians tend to be fans of this, only they keep the bad parts to themselves in hopes it never happens. When they first instituted the Alpha Lanterns, they just told a bunch of prospective recruits that they had been selected for a great honor. They neglected to tell anyone the part about being transformed into an emotionless robot for their troubles.

One Way Communication

Bad managers will only communicate in one direction; them to their employees. That’s not to say they won’t occasionally let their underlings speak to them, it’s just that they won’t care and not fix any issues brought to them. The Guardians love doing this, issuing unilateral edicts from up on high to the Corps and then letting it ride. Sometimes they’ll listen to a Lantern who gets annoyed enough to break into their council chamber and yell at them about all the problems, at which point the Guardians sweep it under the rug most of the time.

Who Butters Their Bread

Bad managers don’t work for the good of the organization, they work for whoever they think will best help them and their position. This usually means satisfying shareholders in the short-term, even if it’s a bad long-term plan. The Guardians do this, in a manner of speaking, given that they are their own shareholders. So they do what pleases them, rather than what benefits the Corps (though they usually try to claim what they want to do does benefit the Corps).


Bad managers realize that a united band of underlings is a bad thing, since there is strength in numbers when reporting someone or just generally as an opposing powerbase. The Guardians are big fans of this sort of thing, classically telling Lanterns to stay out of each other’s sectors to avoid friendships being built.

Poised To Exit

A bad manager knows the gravy train has to stop sometime, and they’re always thinking ahead about how to cushion their fall and where to end up at. This one I’ll give the Guardians, they have no desire to be ousted from the leadership of the Green Lantern Corps.

Closing comments:
I pulled the list of top 10 management traits from the Globe and Mail newspaper and I think it’s relatively spot on. I’d love to hear about any bad management traits that you’ve seen and I’d be happy to discuss if the Guardians keep on failing almost all across the board.

Final Rating: Bad business!

Thank you for reading and please hit me up with your comments.

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