Big companies and Lawrence of Arabia

One of my favorite scenes in Lawrence of Arabia is “Chaos in Damascus.” The Arabs have just captured Damascus from the Turks and various civil tasks are divided between multiple tribes. Damascus in the hands of Turks was a pie-in-the-sky dream they never thought was possible, yet they are now all in the great hall trying to organize.

There is infighting among the tribes, civil tasks break down, and tribal leaders point fingers blaming other tribes or things they do not understand. The telephones do not work because they have no electricity. There is no electricity because no one will fix the generators. Finally, fire breaks out in the city but the tribes will not carry a bucket of water to put out the flames.

The Chaos in Damascus scene seems a lot like life in a big corporation to me. Tribal pride instead of a gleaming city. Here’s the movie clip on YouTube.