Friday, 22 July 2016

Lessons from Wagner about innovation: 9. do something concrete and obvious that gets a reaction and eventually encourages change

Wagner put the action and narrative of his music dramas above all else; an audience was not to be distracted from the action unfolding upon the stage.

How best to make this happen? How best to make sure audiences and performers got the message?

Wagner did something concrete and obvious: he redesigned and rebuilt the orchestral pit, hiding the conductor and orchestra from view.

This caused some extreme reactions. On seeing the newly constructed pit which would hide him and his orchestra from view, Auguste Vianesi (the first Music Director and Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, New York) demanded that it be demolished and replaced with a traditional space which put his conducting front and centre of the action.

This was duly done, but merely one year later Vianesi was gone and a pro-Wagner conductor (Anton Seidl) had replaced him.

And the hidden orchestral pit had been reconstructed!

Doing something concrete and obvious that initially caused a negative reaction eventually resulted in, what was for Wagner and his supporters, a positive change.

What concrete and obvious things can you do to ensure people 'get the message' about your idea or innovation? If what you do is concrete and obvious enough it will get an initial 'knee-jerk' reaction, which is likely to be negative. Be prepared to wait a while. If your idea is a good and useful one, initially unfavourable reactions may well transform into lasting and positive change.

(To read more posts in this series go to the July, August and September 2016 Blog Archive.)

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