The Role of Rhythm
In the beginning, there was noise. Noise begat rhythm, and rhythm begat everything else. — Mickey Hart, Drummer for The Grateful Dead
Rhythm is pattern on repeat. Rhythm unites and aligns. In its absence, there is chaos and randomness.
Attend any concert and you can see the affects of rhythm on a crowd. Turn your attention from the stage to peer on the crowd and you are likely to experience the beauty of fans bobbing in unison, weaving a live tapestry of art.
Rhythm speaks to the soul of humanity.
It’s a craving we all have and share. Sure, we like a break from routine and monotony, but if we take too long of a break we look to find a way to reconnect to it.
Nature has rhythm.
- Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.
- Night and Date
- Death and Life
Rhythm brings sanity, expectation and connection.
It holds our attention and reminds us that if we miss something, the chance will return.
I believe that’s why project delivery processes like agile are so successful. Yes, there is value in iteration, adaptability and tight feedback loops, but it’s the cyclical nature of the process that I think attracts so many people.
Rhythm is where we connect. We find comfort in the expectation of repetition. We can synchronize ourselves with others. We see that we are not alone and that rhythm acts as a binding agent between us.
Rhythm allows outsiders to see what’s happening. It grants visibility and order an otherwise random situation. If you want to move a crowd, begin to clap rhythmically for a period of time. You will get attention and you might just get a crowd clapping along with you.
Why does it matter?
It matters because this is how we work. It’s how your team unites. It’s what they need and expect.
As a leader, you must find and define a rhythm and cadence for your organization. And, that cadence must be visible and felt.
The organization must see the undulation.
It could be meetings, it could be emails, but you have to build that into your culture. It’s the glue to an otherwise random experience at work.
That’s why company roadmaps work so well. They align themselves to the cyclical rhythms of the business.
Use different rhythms for different purposes
Rhythm is not just a regular consistent beating drum.
Thump Thump Thump
No, rhythm can take many shapes.
Alternating, off and on. Bringing with it the space to breathe and rest between beats.
Progressive, a beat that slowly gets faster and faster. You have experienced this gradually move to faster and faster, yet still rhythmic.
Some would even argue that randomness is a rhythm in and of itself. Suggesting that everything is rhythm even chaos.
Math an appropriate rhythm to the goals of your business.
Are you working towards a product launch? Employ a progressive rhythm to build anticipation and excitement. This works both internally and externally with your customers.
Are you looking to create a sustainable pace? Build an alternating rhythm of faster pace, followed by slower space to infuse breathing room and creativity.
The important thing is that you define them and make them known to your team.
Look for the natural rhythms
Just like nature has natural rhythms, so do organizations. Leverage them to your advantage.
If you are an e-commerce business, when are your natural busy seasons?
If you have a large employee population with children, when are parents likely going to need a break?
There are all kinds of rhythms and you can leverage the power in rhythm by making them known and visible.
Rhythm is life. Your people crave it. Be the drummer and start beating the drum.