Today I re-watched the movie "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room." The Associates watch this movie during the first couple of weeks of KAP, and this year I'll be leading the session. We use the movie as an example of a decline in a company and pair it with Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which shows the decline of a society.
This is probably the fifth time I've seen this movie, and I found myself thinking a few things throughout the movie:
- "Egos" and "greed" aside, the lack of grounding in reality was rampant.
- Don't confuse value creation with profit.
- The movie claims that Jeff Skilling was an advocate of free markets and tried to foster free-market thinking in his firm. However, the Enron culture blatantly ignored how freedom of speech and standards (among other things) translate into the firm. I hope my family doesn't watch this film and think that I believe he was a free-market kindred spirit.
- With the rise of wide-spread internet use and decreasing costs in communication, could such a spectacular fall happen again? Would employees out their employers?
- Moreover, where were the whistle blowers? Was everyone top to bottom okay with the behavior or were people just leaving?
- I don't think we'll ever really know everything that went on there.
I'm looking forward to hearing what the Associates have to think about the movie. They always seem to surprise me with interesting questions that I can't answer (those are the best kind of questions).
If you've seen the film, what did you think about it? What questions would you ask to people who are new to Market-Based Management?