Harmony is the sound that is created when different musical notes are played simultaneously to produce a sound, called a chord, that is pleasant to hear and beyond the sound of each individual note that creates the harmony. For anyone who has never heard the harmony of a barbershop quartet, here is an example.
Just like the sound of a barbershop quartet, different realities can be in harmony — or not.
For the past several weeks, I have written about different types of reality:
When we harmonize our realities, we get results that cannot be achieved through any single reality alone.
Harmony and Reality on the Global Stage
Between 10-22 miles above Earth, there is a layer of gas called ozone. The ozone layer protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Ozone is like a sunscreen for the Earth. It absorbs about 98% of UV light. This is an independent reality. It exists whether we believe in it or not, and doesn’t care what we think or feel about it.
In the 1970s, scientists began to theorize about what types of chemicals lead to ozone depletion. Because their theories at the time were not widely held, this was a personal reality for the scientists who held this belief.
In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey found a huge hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica. The study found that the ozone layer had been getting thinner since the 1970s. The primary culprits were CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons, used in aerosols and plastics. As news of these findings spread globally, they quickly became part of a new social reality. People at the time trusted science to guide policy and decision-making on a national and global scale.
The harmony of these three realities came in the form of the Montreal protocol of 1987. It was a pact to phase out the use of CFCs in an effort to restore the ozone layer. Every country that was part of the United Nations signed the pact. It was the first treaty to receive that kind of universal ratification.
If things had continued on the path they were on before the treaty, ozone depletion would have continued, and UV rays would have created many problems for all living things on Earth. Since that ratification of that treaty, the ozone layer has rebounded. Scientists project that by 2080, ozone levels will be back at levels recorded in the 1950s.
This is the type of result that is possible when we harmonize realities on a global stage.
Harmony and Reality on the Business Stage
When we consider the greatest business successes of the past 25 years (for example, the Internet, the smartphone, the electric vehicle), their successes occurred when their inventors or business leaders were able to create harmony among all three realities.
Consider the smartphone. The first smartphone is widely considered to be the IBM Simon, released in 1994. It was an analog cellular phone that had email, calendar and fax capabilities. Because it was an object that was created, it was an independent reality. It was created from the personal realities of those at IBM, but it did not harmonize with the social reality of the time.
The first Blackberry smartphone, the Blackberry 5810, was the first smartphone that began to create harmony in the social reality for business. It was rapidly adopted, particularly in global business, but it never achieved harmony with the social reality of nonbusiness users.
Apple released its first iPhone in 2007. That iPhone had fewer functions than the Blackberry, which was the most popular phone at the time. But it created a new independent reality (the phone itself) that resonated with an existing social reality (the desire for human connection) through a new feature that no other smartphone had – the touch screen. The touch screen was created from someone’s personal reality (and idea) that was turned into an independent reality (the device) and harmonized with the social reality of the time.
It can be argued that Blackberries eventually failed because of their inability to adapt to the new independent reality created by the iPhone with its touch screen and new software. Touch screens killed the physical keyboards on smartphones. You may be able to find a few today, but they are like looking for hen’s teeth. Touchscreens created harmony between personal, social and independent realities, creating an effect that none of those realities could have created on their own.
Why Does This Matter?
Creating harmony between three realities leads to unprecedented success. Failure to do so leads to your peril. If you want to be more successful in your business (and in your life), it’s time to start looking at the harmony (or disharmony) between your realities.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.