Disruptive Innovation… in Music?

Pitch PerfectOver the holidays, I had the chance to see a number of movies. Most of them were with the intention of enjoying awards shows, but some were meant to just be, well, fun. I had heard really good things about one movie in particular and I enjoyed one of the actresses (Anna Kendrick) in another movie (Up In The Air), so I thought I’d give it a chance. The movie I’m talking about: Pitch Perfect.

This is a movie about a couple of different things, but I want to focus on two aspects of it. The first, is that Beca (Anna Kendrick) wants to produce music. The second, the a cappella group, the Bellas, sing. The plot of the movie centers around the second point, the Bellas, and their attempts to makeup for their embarrassing showing at the prior year’s championship. Beca gets recruited to be part of the Bellas and comedy ensues.

While singing for the Bellas, Beca has lots of great ideas for how the Bellas could be better, but because of the dictator-like leadership style of the person in charge of the group. Towards the end of the movie *spoiler alert* the leader of the group and Beca have a reconciling of sorts and Beca is able to infuse the group with her ideas. Naturally, this allows the group to impress at the championship and finish in first place.

There’s nothing immediately out of the ordinary about this plot, but if you look closely, you’ll see that there’s a bit of disruptive innovation happening. That is, Beca, with her off-the-wall ideas and new style, brings a dash of flavor to the group’s old ways of doing things. As a result, the group has a wowing performance because no one had ever heard those kinds of sounds mixed together or seen someone perform in that way (in a cappella). The key part of that last sentence is — in a cappella. Sure, people have been mixing music for quite some time in other areas, but no one had seen it before (at least in this movie) done in a cappella.

So, why is this important? Because some of the best solutions to problems usually don’t come from within the field. There usually has to be some kind of cross-disciplinary flavor to the solution. Disruptive innovation is everywhere today. Your idea may just be a million-dollar one… but you could be applying it in the wrong field.

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