My Rating of “The Smartest Guys In The Room” by Bethany McLean: 7 / 10
The Smartest Guys in the Room is one of those books (and documentaries) that everyone in business should read. For example, Drucker writes consistently that businesses are created for the customer; it’s not created to make a profit. Here is a classic modern day case of greed that manifests in a crisis that hit the US very hard.
I first watched the documentary first before reading the book. As always the book goes into a level of depth a documentary can never match. Getting detailed background into the key players such as Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling helped me better understand a number of things. First, how they went down the path they did and why; unjustified as it was.
The book itself is quite a slog given its lengthy introduction in establishing scene and people of Enron. Yet once the book gets going you get into the details of how the smartest guys in the room drove the scandal we all know well today.
Three key takeaways from the book:
- The focus ultimately has to be on the customer. Anything else can lead to faults and flaws based off our values.
- Quarterly driven organisations sacrifice the long-term for the short-term.
- Incentives drive people. Search for integrity first and foremost.