Telling stories

So I was treated me to a showing of Enron the other day and I was generally captivated from a number of perspectives.

Scene from "Enron the Play", 2010

In the first instance it is the story of the rise and fall of the infamous American “virtual” company Enron and the interesting part is, in my opinion, the way in which the story is told. Whereas in reality the details of the Enron collapse are quite a complicated and esoteric muddle of innovative financial planning using loopholes in American financial regulation and manipulation of market perception – here using an innovative mix of flashy show and (sometimes) clever scripting and staging – the meat of the story is effectively transmitted without getting too bogged down into the detail. This is good – although the second act does drag on a bit… as an aside we both agreed that we would leave if there were too many “jazz hands” and luckily we were spared apart from the odd one or two!

In the end I think my overall impression – and I believe that I agreement on this one – is that it was great idea, reasonably well executed but with quite obvious room for improvement.  I do like the whole concept of telling complex, unexpected stories in new and innovative ways for new audiences. I do however completely get why it bombed on Broadway: it is fat too critical (and it is NOT subtle about it!) about the free market; and therefore of the entire “American Way” – I don’t think that it was the way of telling the story but more to do with the story and the audience to which it was being presented.

Finally I just have to add a personal link to the story. There is a small scene following the Millenium Party where Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling announced that they would be “launching Video on Demand within the year” where the techie nerds announce that VoD “is impossible” due to the amount of available bandwidth.  Well at that same exact time I was sitting having a meeting with the OTHER Andersen firm where they were trying to convince me to agree to giving them $2 Million per month to deliver “Video on Demand within the year” to our customers.  Luckily I knew about bandwidth and the (very) simple calculations required to work out that there just wasn’t enough with current technology to handle the load – so we simply asked them to show us their calculations and if they could convince us then we would happily give them a blank cheque.  They never did get back to us!

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