Harmony and Innovation

My last post left a question in my mind; does harmony negate innovation?

Innovation is a new way of doing something. I believe you can’t have innovation without having diversity. An interesting article by Margaret Wheatley describes how diversity plays an important role in driving innovation. Of course diversity can generate friction: different perspectives, ways of thinking and behaving which can be uncomfortable. For me, friction is not contradictory to harmony. 

Have you ever worked with someone that is totally different from yourself? Thinks differently, speaks a different language, studied a different academic discipline? I have and in many instances I have found myself engaged with people completely different than myself in incredibly transformative dialogues. There’s something that happens in the conversation where our seemingly opposing views and structures of thinking interact to generate innovation: a new solution/approach towards our common goal.

Harmony requires diversity. If you look at a musical score or an orchestra, it sometimes seems strange that all of those chords and instruments are together. In the same score, people can be singing in different pitches, starting and ending in different places, some singing andante and others allegro. If you look at the pieces separately you might not be able to piece them together; when you hear them played together they produce something so beautiful; something you never thought it would be possible when you considered the pieces individually. 

For me, the conversations and moments I described have been one of incredible harmony. Where I’ve felt that I’ve just been in flow with the other person/people. And of course there have been moments of disagreement, frustration and discomfort. The real difference is those moments where everything just shifts and suddenly the problem, which seemed so intractable, gets solved. It’s this harmony that has generated a new way of doing something; in other words, innovation.

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