What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘harmony’? Some oldies might remember a particular brand of hairspray but most will imagine a pleasing sound, perhaps voices singing together?
I like to think of harmony in a slightly different way. For me the word is closer to diversity because true harmony in the musical sense is produced by several voices (instrument or vocal) performing together to create an overall whole. The voices each have their role to play. They have their own pitch and rhythmic structure. They may even be dissonant with each other, forming unique sounds that are created by no one person but by the effect of two, or more separate sounds colliding and merging with each other. These notes or ‘beats’ cannot be captured on paper. No manuscript can illustrate the resultant effect of one person’s voice blending with another’s. And yet this is not only true of music but also of an organisation chart and the magic of a great department or company. One voice challenging another and the resultant interplay creating something new, unexpected, unpredictable.
Terry Waite CBE, the person who was on a peace mission to try and secure the release of four hostages but was himself kidnapped and imprisoned for several years in solitary confinement, described peace as ‘the fragile meeting of two souls in harmony’. Yet, more importantly he went on to say ‘harmony does not mean total agreement, harmony is the blending of different voices’. And surely it is the blending of different voices that we truly need not only in our businesses but also in our private and political lives too?
Have a good week,