The Rite of Innovation

Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), ...Igor Stravinsky via Wikipedia

Let me introduce to you a man who revolutionized the world of ballet & music: Mr. Igor Stravinsky.

I want to show you what you can learn from him, use it to innovate and change the World!

It was 1913. The world of ballet was dominated by works like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. Beautiful melodies and graceful dancing. But to Stravinsky this was a rather narrow view of music. He wanted to explore the boundaries of what an orchestra could do and how it could influence an audience feelings. He also wanted to take music back to it's primitive origins, into a world without imposed rules and without prejudice about beauty. Who gets to decide what's beautiful and what's not?

Being a Russian, Stravinsky's quest took him to the primitive pagan rituals of ancient Russia. But oddly enough, 1913 Russia wasn't to interested into Russian sounds. It was in France (Paris) that Stravinsky found an audience willing to hear his latest masterpiece: "The Rite of Spring".

As you start to hear and see "The Rite of Spring", just allow yourself to relax and completely focus on the sounds and the dancing and let your mind wander...

I don't know what did you feel while listening to Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" (I would love to read about it in the comments area!) but on May 29 1913, the audience of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris started a RIOT!

"Opposition to Stravinsky's work literally happened within the first few minutes of the piece as members of the audience booed loudly in response to the inharmonic notes accompanying the unrecognizable bassoon's opening solo.
As the ballet progressed, so did the audience's discomfort. Those in favor of Stravinksy's work argued with those in opposition. The arguments eventually turned to brawls and police had to be notified. They arrived at intermission and successfully calmed the angry crowd (yes, the show wasn't even half way over before people were throwing punches). As the second half commenced, police were unable to keep the audience under control and rioting resumed."

Just like happens with all who are ahead of their time, people in 1913 were not ready to hear and see Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring". However, in spite of the what happened in 1913 "today, it is considered to be a milestone in the history of ballet. It has become a regular work in many ballet companies' repertoires. The music has been used extensively, as in Disney's Fantasia. It has also inspired composers like John Williams (Star Wars) and Jerry Goldsmith (Outland)." [1]

What does this mean to you?

And why should you care about some guy in 1913 that produced some crazy sounds and imagined a funny ballet?

YOU should care if you're serious about innovation! If you're in the "ME TOO" business I'm sorry to have wasted your time. But if you're in the innovation business as I know you are, you should care about this work.

Innovation is not about making something better or faster or anything that ends in "er" for that matter.
Innovation is not something that you do at the end of your product lifespan. Innovation starts before the product even exists. It starts when you have a vision about something so revolutionary that people won't forget it.

Innovation is about changing the World! And that's exactly what Stravinsky did and so should you!

Who are you making angry?

No one? I'm sorry but you're not innovating. Doesn't mean that you can't be successful. Probably you're competing on price, it's a margin pressure tactic, and maybe you're doing fine but... you're not innovating and most certainly: you're not changing the World!

Innovation makes the the status quo very angry because the status quo hates change! So, if you don't hear any complaints about what you're doing... that's a strong sign that you're not changing the game. You're playing it.

Don't be afraid to polarize people! Great products polarize people all the time. Not everyone believes that the iPad is the best technology product ever. And that's OK because Steve Jobs doesn't want to please everybody. He wants to please Apple's fans!

Don't try to please everybody because it's impossible! Make your fans happy and let them tell the World how great your brand is!

Blow expectations away!

"Harvard University Professor Thomas Kelly suggests that one of the reasons that the Paris premiere of "The Rite of Spring" created such a furor was that it shattered everyone's expectations." [2]

Not everyone can look at things the way they are and see them the way they could be. That's why sometimes someone comes and blows our expectations away.

Don't create something that we can already see it happen or, even worse, that we already have. We want you to be successful so give us something that we didn't know it could exist but we need it. In fact, we want it!

Another important thing: you don't need anyone's permission to do it! Just get going!
Don't expect to talk about something revolutionary and hear people say "Yes! That's a great idea! You're a genius!". That's not going to happen! What's probably going to happen is this: they'll tell you that you're crazy and you're better off doing what everybody else is doing. What are you expecting from the status quo?

Here's some examples about the status quo advice about innovation:

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
~Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
~ Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.

So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’
~Apple’s founder Steve Jobs tries to get Atari and HP interested in the Machintosh.

We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.
~Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.


Great visionaries are ahead of their time.

They look at things the way they are and see them the way they could be.

They don't want to please everybody. In fact, they don't care if their innovations are making some people angry. They just do it.

They blow expectations way by changing the World as we know it.

I hope that this article inspires you to use your creativity and change the World because we really need you to do it!


"God gave Artists the gift of making us dream while awake"

[1] Green, A.(2011). The Rite of The Spring Riot, 1913. Retrieved June 19, 2011 from http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/20thcenturymusic/qt/rite-of-spring.htm

[2] Kelly, T. (1999). Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of The Spring". Retrieved June 19, 2011 from

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