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Thanos' Guide to Management


Throughout time, academics and practitioners have been working to make management principles easier to understand. At the beginning of the last century, 1916, the French engineer Henri Fayol identified five functions of management, which include: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. In 1989, Stephen Covey shared the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 1997 James Womack and Daniel Jones identified five key lean principles the Lean Enterprise Institute is founded on, which include: value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection. Because organizations are unique and often have unique challenges, we caution ascribing an entire management philosophy to just one theory. However, Thanos and the Avengers may be on to something. If uniting each Infinity Stone generates enough power to destroy, can managers yield these powers to make lasting change in their organizations? Can we apply the functions of each Infinity Stone to the core elements of managers who ensure problems can be solved in a creative, productive manner in a snap? First, what exactly is an Infinity Stone?


If you’re following Marvel’s Avengers, we probably don’t need to define infinity stones. However, if you’re not one of the more than 100 million people who went to see the Marvel superhero epic Avengers: Endgame during the film's worldwide opening, don’t worry – we have a refresher. The Infinity Stones are significant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. They are really powerful stones that, when united via a gauntlet, can be used to destroy or create people, planets, solar systems. The first appearance of an Infinity Stone dates back to 1972 in Marvel                 

Premiere #1. The six Infinity Stones are the Mind, Power, Reality, Soul, Space, and Time stones and are described below…


Space Stone (blue)

Allows the user to exist in any location by moving any object anywhere throughout reality, warping or rearranging time and space, or even teleporting themselves and others to alter the distance between objects contrary to the laws of physics.


Soul Stone (orange)

Allows the user to steal, control, manipulate, and alter living and dead souls as a gateway to an ideal universe. At full potential, the Soul Stone grants the user control over all life in the universe.


Reality Stone (red)

Allows the user to fulfill their wishes, even if they need to alter reality to do things that would normally be impossible. At full potential, when backed by the other stones, the Reality Stone allows the user to alter reality on a universal scale.


Time Stone (green)

Allows the user to see into the past and the future; stop, slow down, speed up or reverse the flow of time; change the past and the future; and trap people or entire universes in unending loops of time. At full potential, the stone grants the user total control over the past, present, and future.


Power Stone (purple)

Allows the user to access and manipulate all forms of energy to enhance physical strength and durability; this energy grants the ability to operate at optimum, almost omnipotent, levels. The power stone also enhances the effects of the five other stones.


Mind Stone (yellow)

Allows the user to enhance their mental abilities and access the thoughts and dreams of other beings. The Mind Gem is also the manifestation of the universal subconscious.



Highlighting the unique competencies, or defined capabilities necessary to apply skills and knowledge successfully at work, required by managers sets these leaders up for success by providing transparency around the standards and performance appraisal criteria. Just as Thanos was able to cultivate power by bringing the stones together, having the right set of competencies can empower managers. What are key elements that all managers need? Managers who are courageous, compelling, strategic, efficient, driven, and personable harness the most potential at their fingertips to turn roadblocks into dust.