Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Business

In Kubrick’ film Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb there is a very important recurring theme i.e. Communication and Technology.

Much of the films dialog takes place over the telephone or radio and the major conflicts revolve around the shortcomings of both. Over emphasis and reliability on technology and communication could hinder creative thinking and intuitive decision making.

Analysis and learning from the film:

Systems and Technology: Dependability on Systems sometimes causes dramatic malfunctions of business and processes. Ex. The Doomsday Machine in the Film is essentially imperfect because it is unable to differentiate between nuclear explosions caused by external attack and those caused by accident. Elsewhere in the film we find malfunctions in the bomber plane that eventually triggers the Doomsday Machine.

Over Regulations and blind subordination: In the film there’s a comical moment in which the President, on his way to the War Room, has forgotten his security pass. A Captain guarding a door entrance requests to see identification. The President responds, “You do recognize me, I take it, Captain?” Despite admitting that he recognizes the President and despite the President explaining the grave urgency of the situation, the Captain repeatedly asserts “Security regulation one thirty-four-B Section seven Sub-Section D item six, state definitely that White House I.D. pass will be surrendered by all personnel entering the War Room. There may be no exception to this regulation, sir”. Although the scene was edited out of the film, the concepts of over-regulation and blind subordination, either to command chain hierarchies or paper regulations, is clearly evident.

Identity Politics: The perception of one’s own country (or business) as divinely good natured and an “enemy” country (or business) as inherently evil or immoral is central to the psychology of the film. It’s true at the lowest ranks of foot soldier and at the highest ranks of politicians and military commanders. At a business level the same psychology continues, which eventually creates blockades and hampers productivity and growth.

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