Intersection of Right & Left, Yin & Yang, Innovation & Standardization


My, my!  What a mashup.

In his daily reflection today, Fr. Richared Rohr offers a perspective on the socio-political evolution of the “right” and the “left” (see Daily Meditation: Power and Powerlessness / Right and Left — July 3, 2012.)  Fr. Richard (often) illuminates the dichotomies that somehow seem to comfort us, as we gain a sense of belonging to “our” group versus “theirs,” and how that dualistic thinking obscures from us the truth that emanates from understanding, compromise, and holding apparent opposites in creative juxtaposition.

Dualistic dichotomies appear everywhere.  In politics, there’s Right versus Left.  In Eastern philosophy, you have Yin and Yang.  In society, Masculine and Feminine (aka, Mars and Venus).  In organizations (among other things), are Innovation versus Standardization.

Standardization does appear to contradict Innovation.  Standardization strives for efficiency and quality assurance by attempting to align all employee behavior with (what are understood to be) “best practices” in a particular area of effort.  Innovation conspires to respond ad hoc to customer needs, regardless of what the “standard” is.    Are both “good?”  Of course!

One could polarize these two concepts, and potentially err by becoming too rigid (and hence unresponsive to changes in the customer environment) or too “creative” (reinventing every process every time, without thought to experience or cost or quality).

The balance, it seems, is in the middle – the grey area that is only trod with complete appreciation for the value of the opposite.  We see this in politics, where increasing polarization of the electorate and the officiate have nearly frozen progressive leadership in state and federal circles.  Eastern thought has always maintained that the flow between Yin and Yang (and therefore Masculine and Feminine, in some ways) is a complementary process that issues harmony.

Standardizers need to value the benefit of creative problem solving, especially when the circumstances change.  Innovators need to test and share their one-off solutions with a wider audience, and rigorously encourage adoption as the “new standard” when successful.

Let us virtually cheer innovation.  And standardization.  And especially both Yin and Yang.

1 Comment

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  1. Travis

    I would be interested in the follow up of the binary relationships in Western Culture, the relationship of “or” as in this or that, and the non-binary relationship found in multiple Eastern cultures in the relationship of “and” which would be interesting in your theological pursuits, e.g. Hinduism is polytheistic and monotheistic, Jesus is fully human and fully divine…etc. The Taoist concept of Yin & Yang, is taught as an expression of the seemingly contradictory states of being within one’s self, both residing at the same time. A man is both masculine and feminine and would be considered less of a man if he did not have both.

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