Meddling With Primal Forces

After wanting to see this film 30 years ago, I finally watched Network, the 1976 film by director Sidney Lumet and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. This film was way ahead of its time in depicting the movement toward reality-based TV programming.

There is a great speech by the head of the fictional "UBS" corporation, that folks in the OD field might enjoy. You can hear it at this link.

In part, the CEO says:

"You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear?!

"You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West!

"There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet.

"That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!"

Very amusing and entertaining, yes. But it also makes you think about the work we do as OD practitioners, trying to help our organizational clients to change how they do things and improve performance.

It seems to me that today we do indeed live in "one holistic system of systems." The organizational systems where we do our work are all operating on a global scale. Even the smaller players that may only do business within "the 50 states" are affected by global currents such as terrorism, price of oil, outsourcing, and offshoring.

As we work to improve organizations, are we like "Mr. Beale" in Network, meddling with "the primal forces of nature?"


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