Friday, May 24, 2013

Metronomes & Analogy

Check out this video.

For a full run-down of what's happening and another larger example, check out this article on NPR.

The Little Metronome That Wouldn't

Those who've known me for any length of time, know that I like analogies.  Particularly bad ones.  However, breaking down complex ideas or systems by comparing their relationships to other (usually simpler) observable  systems yields surprising results.  It forces the mind into a state where it questions relationships and promotes free-form thinking.

I had a similar experience when watching this video.  How does it relate to leadership?
  • One viewer could interpret the metronomes eventually synchronicity as a strong analogy for leadership.  The leader could be represented in the flexibility of the surface, allowing each member of the team to find a rhythm that suits the goal/objective.
  • Another viewer could interpret the exact opposite.  They could easily view this as micromanagement.  Has each metronomes individuality been crushed?  Have they been forced into synchronicity rather than being allowed to maintain their own rhythm?
For my part, I think both judgments are fair.  This is what we call a "sucker's choice."  A strong leader does not simply choose between A & B.  The strong leader recognizes the circumstances that are most effective for the individual, team or project and then weighs their choices.

Sometimes a consistent cadence is required.

Sometimes a more chaotic structure will yield the best results.

In light of the video above, it appears that timing is everything.

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