If there is one company in the last twenty years that is synonymous with greed, corruption and scandal; that company is Enron. Yet while most people recall the scandal, they are unfamiliar with all the gritty details that led to the company’s demise. Alex Gibney’s 2005 film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room documents the meteoric rise and subsequent implosion of the Enron Corporation.
From a purely entertainment perspective, this documentary is well worth the watch. It goes into some incredible detail, painting a picture of each of the major players from both Enron and its affiliates. The Enron story is so fantastical to the average person that it really needs no embellishment. Gibney lets the story speak for itself as he interviews journalists, industry analysts and former Enron employees and executives. There is certainly enough material to keep the viewer’s attention for the film’s full runtime.
The best thing the film does is humanize and highlight the plight of the “little man” that the Enron Corporation had no trouble taking advantage of. The film reminds the viewer that Enron really did ruin the financial lives of a huge number of people.
While most people will never be able to relate to the astronomical amount of money Enron was dealing with, there are certainly business lessons anyone can learn from watching their downfall. Hubris and greed were major players in the collapse of Enron and their executives treated the world with an air of infallibility. The company lost focus and thought bending the rules to meet their needs was a viable strategy. Yet as we have seen recently with Wells Fargo, encouraging your employees to cheat the system will ultimately come back to haunt you.
The majority of businesspeople will never run a multibillion dollar company, yet the same principles of business etiquette remain for everyone. Enron showed that if you treat others and your employees without respect, the business world will ultimately return in kind.
This review was written by Abbey Research staff member Curtis and originally appeared on this site.