Today the world is flattening. Especially among people who are connected online, language, fashion, crafts, music, and stories are shared across the globe in record time. There is at least one challenge with flattening. That is the potential loss of variance.
Variance is the idea that even among core competencies there is room for variety. For instance language is fundamentally a form of communication, but there have arisen many forms of language-based communication around the world. In the arts – visual arts, music, film, dance, fashion – variance is what provides stylistic variety even within established forms. Variance allows for the exploration of new ideas that spring from established norms. Variance is also what allows for the birth of what end up being entirely new forms.
Tension arises when variance is disallowed. The forms we know become so rigid that no deviation from the norm can happen. Instead of exploration, a culture of oppression is established.
Understanding value sets can help here. Values are those thing that we hold as formative and unchanging. They are our guiding principles. These provide the bedrock upon which variance can occur. Without a set of agreed upon values, variance can seen as dangerous. A variance in expression may be seen as a variance of values, making the system feel unstable. However with a set of agreed upon values variance in the expression of those values may be seen as good and celebrated.