How could I generate topics the idea that "The executives at Enron can be considered the smartest guys in the room?"

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I think that you would have to develop some level of criteria or standards as to what defines being "the smartest guys in the room."  It's a wonderful premise and fed by a great book and documentary, but it seems to me that you would have to develop criteria for what defines being "the smartest guys in the room."  If financial inventiveness is part of this, then I believe you could point to the construction of Andy Fastow's shell companies, Jeffery Skilling's "mark to market" accounting practices, or Lou Pai's advocacy of Enron's public trading.  These are example of financial ingenuity primarily because of the results.  Each individual's financial inventiveness made millions of dollars for them individually and generated the company to unprecedented heights of fiscal fancy.  In the end, these guys could be considered "the smartest guys in the room" because they were able to do something that few others could and to a magnitude that even fewer could reach.

Yet, I think that if one were going to include business viability in the definition of "smartest guys in the room," the people at Enron might fall short.  In their book, McLean and Elkind persuasively argue that "The Enron scandal grew out of a steady accumulation of habits and values and actions that began years before and finally spiraled out of control."  Certainly, this could be deemed as not being smart for a couple of reasons.  The lack of institutional control over habits of greed and personal excess is not representative of strong business acumen.  At the same time, the fact that the leaders of Enron could not control what happened when it happened reflects a lack of intelligence.  In the end, they were not in control of it.  The financial monster was in control of them.  This could not be seen as being "the smartest guys in the room," because such a premise suggests a sense of control and autonomy through deliberate calculation is evident.  Certainly, the manner in which Enron disintegrated defies such a belief.

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Can the executives at Enron be considered "the smartest guys in the room"?That is, what topics can I discuss for yes or no?

For that camp that admires the criminal acumen of the likes of Bernie Madoff, the executives of Enron would definitely score as "the smartest guys."  For, in this corporation, listed once as the top most innovative company, the executives conducted their nefarious schemes of making profits and sold their stocks and gathered their money before their corporation "crashed." Their accounting was what is sometimes called "creative accounting." That is, the company showed that there were profits when, in reality, there were losses. Other illegal activity went on, such as Enron's CEO, Louis Borget, having been discovered to have diverted company money to offshore accounts.  But, again, the executives were able to do these things and profit before the termination of their company.

On the other hand, by ethical standards these executives were unconscionable and criminal as they cruelly manipulated their employees, leaving them to suffer incredible personal losses, and they performed illegal activities, such as the mark-to-market accounting of CEO Jeffrey Skilling that allowed the company

to book potential profits on certain projects immediately after the deals were signed...whether or not those projects turned out to be successful.

Skilling also had lieutenants on the inside of the company to monitor and intimidate employees through a review committe that evaluated them and annually fired the bottom 15% of the workers.

The 2005 film Enron:  The Smartest Guys in the Room certainly portrays the cunning and criminality of the executives of Enron, as well as the tragic results for the unsuspecting employees.

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