By Bill Wheeler (Read the original.)
If you work in a corporate cube farm, you’ve probably wondered at times how the executives in the corner offices come up with all the crazy ideas that pass for “strategy.” Part of the answer is “ideation,” or, as the rest of us might say, the formation of ideas or concepts. The term “ideation” is a derivative of the noun “idea.” It’s also corporate jargon designed to obscure processes and deflect attention.
The play Ideation is a dark comedy based on the sinister side of commercial endeavors. The script takes an “idea” through all its possible permutations as it is “ideated.” The results are at once very funny and very creepy. Ideation is a creative mix of business jargon, pointed humor and a macabre marketing opportunity.
Please excuse my lack of details here, but it would give away too much to go into the plot twists. It is, however, fair to say that the humor is related to the brain(less) storming that is inevitably derailed by going off on absurd tangents. If you’re a corporate manager who develops strategy, prepare to be skewered by Aaron Leob’s brilliant script.
As for the dark side of Ideation, the message is social as well as commercial. Ideation is a display of how ethics based solely on a return on investment for shareholders is the functional equivalent of no ethics at all. That a product or service might be morally questionable is no reason not to make money (or a LOT of money) by providing it.
The story involves a work team developing a concept for a new service contract. They only have a few hours as they game out the scenarios (or “vision” them), trying to hit on the most efficient yet least visible solution. Along the way, they lose track of their goal as the focus shifts from solutions to motives, conspiracies, and tests of their character. As the clock ticks down, the results become increasingly more insane.
Ideation is a shocking yet elegant script. Both funny and thought provoking, Ideation is social commentary delivered with the sharpness of a razor blade. Loeb games out his creepy scenarios, each worse than the last. Just when we think we have reached the ethical bottom of the barrel, that bottom falls out from under us. Loeb keeps finding new and more repugnant options, challenging each of us to explore our own ethical limits.
Early in the show, the script reveals the problem the work team must solve. I have to admit that when I heard it, I thought it was a joke. Or maybe more corporate jargon. Or that perhaps I misheard the problem. The premise, at first glance, is unthinkable. After further review, however, what seems unthinkable on its face is recast as a blossoming business opportunity.