We are devoting the "forum" section of this June 2002 issue of Futuribles to the stunning collapse of Enron, which was until now a greatly admired firm.
For analysts, Enron embodied an ideal that had long been held up as an example, said Gary Hamel: the firm was driven by a strategic vision, was relentlessly innovative, constantly showed its ability to challenge the rules, to reinvent itself and to transform its environment by a resolutely proactive approach. In short, Enron seemed to symbolize a new kind of enterprise, one that appeared to have coped perfectly with globalization, dematerialization, deregulation, innovation, competition, all the while generating enormous profits.
Then suddenly the dream turned to nightmare. Last autumn a colossal bankruptcy brought to light fraud and underhand practices, political and financial compromises, and corruption at all levels.
Patrick Joffre and Pascal Aurégan begin by looking at what made the firm so successful, then analyse its weaknesses, and conclude by highlighting two key principles: first, a firm cannot detach itself from reality so thoroughly without running the risk of spiralling into megalomaniac madness; secondly, markets must have some rules and a body to enforce them.