The Jazz combo teaches us how to succeed. Each participant’s contribution is essential. The total product is greater than the sum of its parts. The Jazz combo is a model for success of our networks of various views. Jazz combos work because they have overcome the two great polarizing barriers to problem-solving: “Othering” and The Zero-Sum Game.
The music of Jazz combos requires disparate elements: melody, harmony, rhythm, and improvisation. The participants play various instruments and contribute different elements to the endeavor.
The component that participants contribute are complimentary to one another, not competitive. If one member is characterized as the other or if the Zero-Sum Game surfaces, the music would fall apart.
In our functional networks and communities, we require strong individuals with contrasting skills and elements, cooperating; not dominating. The total product is greater than the sum of component parts.
The problem of “Othering” . “The creation of “The Other” is done by highlighting their weakness. Indeed, as defined by Martin Jones et al., ‘…othering is a term , advocated by Edward Said, which refers to the act of emphasizing the perceived weakness of marginalized groups as a way of stressing the alleged strength of those in positions of power.” “Othering” can be done with any racial, ethnic, religious, or geographically-defined category of people”.(1)
The problem of The Zero-Sum Game:”a situation in which each participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s)” (2) In this type of encounter, to have a “winner”, there is a “loser”.
In our network’s daily function, just like the Jazz Combo, “othering” and Zero-Sum defeat us before we start.
Call and Response: In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first. It corresponds to the call-and-response pattern in human communication and is found as a basic element of musical form, such as verse-chorus form, in many traditions. (3)
Long before Jazz, call and response has been a fundamental component of cooperative networking. In our constructive discourses, as in the Jazz Combo, a viewpoint of a participant is “called out” followed by a “response” with an alternate and enhancing contribution.
For day to day network’s to function, just like the Jazz Combo, “othering” and Zero-Sum defeat us before we start. One should keep constant vigilance to prevent these barriers to success away from our discourse.
Charles Clanton Rogers August 2015
(1) Martin-Jones, David (2002) Becoming-other in time: the Deleuzian subject in cinema. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
(2) In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which each participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Thus cutting a cake, where taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others, is a zero-sum game if all participants value each unit of cake equally . Wikipedia
(3) Call and Response, Wikipedia