Corporate culture is a hot topic among business executives these days, as part of a continuing effort for greater cohesiveness, creativity, and adaptability, as well as more earnings per share for those who own and operate these organizations.
In the regional premiere of Aaron Loeb’s Ideation, we get an intimate, site-specific look—a conference room in the Boulder Chamber of Commerce building—at the machinations of a group of top-level strategists as they brainstorm under a 90-minute deadline, to come up with a proposal for a morally vexing project.
Hannah (Karen Lamoureaux) is on a short lease from the boss, JD (the voice of Jim Hunt), who presses her for results ASAP. Her co-workers are high-powered and volatile: Brock (Brian Shea), a snooty, vituperative, but laser-sharp Harvard MBA; Ted (Jim Walker), a highly analytical operations overseer and, generally, the group’s whiteboard navigator; and Sandeep (Hossein Forouzandeh), a young top-flite engineer, whose international point-of-view runs counter to the narrow politics of the Americans. The wildcard is Scooter (Luke Sorge), JD’s son, an MBA candidate at the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley), who is interning and charged with setting up the conference room, observing the meeting, and taking notes.
In quick order, we realize that the project which Loeb puts before the group is a updated version of Hitler’s “Final Solution,” based on a “theoretical” scenario of (take your pick): biological warfare or naturally occuring, but “somehow” genetically modified, viral pandemics. In some ways, the plot is related to Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake (2003), in which Big Pharma creates diseases for which they have expensive remedies ready to market, until the experiment gets out of hand.
Loeb wrote the story after working with a management consulting firm. He was fascinated by their problem-solving methodology. While there are a couple of deductions made by the group that went by too fast for us to consider the logic of their steps, the rest of the analysis was spot on, which leads us to ponder the options along with the team. Considering the nature of the problem—which boils down to a massive depopulation event—Loeb’s disarming of our emotional resistance, along with the effects of visceral performances at close range, is impressive.