Collective Resonance in Action
Issue 34 – November 2014
IN THIS ISSUE
We live in an oscillating universe of infinite possibilities. We are vibrational beings. We resonate. We travel through multi-dimensional entangled filaments of light. We are navigators on a vast ocean energy and sound. We hyper-leap through synaptic vortexes surrounded by entangled webs of illuminated light filaments. We are light beings of infinite possibilities dancing to the sounds of a musical universe.
Always re-thinking about what it is we (Face The Music) do in various and new frames of reference, my favorite new frame is considering our work as facilitating "collective resonance". The word resonance means "re-sound," which indicates a flow of vibration between two or more things.
Although "Collective Resonance" may sound like a great title for a New Age book, there is quite a foundation of scientific research on the subject, and anecdotally, if you've ever been in a group that achieved this state, you know what I'm talking about. It's the experience of jamming together, listening, creating, supporting, and responding in real time; you almost know what's coming next, and the thoughts and ideas that emerge in your mind are often expressed by others that you're jamming with—they don't originate from "I/me", they are being co-created in concert with the group. It's a great feeling, and very productive and innovative, as well as establishing a sense of purpose and co-ownership.
On the other side of the coin, you can probably think of many examples of collective dissonance (in organizations, politics, personal relationships)—unaligned, not listening—the musical equivalent of playing together in different rhythms and keys while supposing to be playing music that will be listenable to your audience. We mistrust others in personal dealings, and group dialogues on important issues that affect our collective future are marked by skepticism and competition for perceived scarce resources. At times deliberately adding discord to others' expression to sabotage their music.
"Having FTM as part of one of our retreats was absolutely a wonderful experience. The session included fun, team-building, and a boost to management and staff creativity. It helped to generate an environment open new ideas, and helped our team to take our professional challenges to the next level. Additionally, it generated an amazing set of memories to the whole group."
Global Financial Institution
"Congrats, Paul, we
enjoy working with you."
Chairman and Founder
The Prouty Project
"FTM was a significant part of the history of the BPI Senior Executive Board having kicked off our founding session and co-creating our Board songs around the Organizational Blues. We all bonded, engaged, participated and became more of a cohesive and fun living group thanks to the methods and practices of our good friends at FTM. Happy 15th Anniversary!"
founder and CEO
Best Practice Institute
"Face the Music is an innovative and creative force. They unleash the potential creative expression of a group and highlight the unwritten rules of an organization so that all involved laugh, share and move forward to a higher place. I have worked with Paul and his merry team since 2003. They are timeless and just as relevant in this global environment as ever."
Richard A. O'Leary, Ed.D.
Corporate VP, CHRO
on organizational collective resonance:
Achieving true collective resonance can be considered much more important than superficially agreeing to the simple formulation of a statement describing a shared vision. Real collective resonance ensures that common vision is both created and shared by all the personnel of an organization. True collective resonance allows a real multiplication of all the personal energies and creates the ideal conditions for the surfacing of ownership, creativity and emerging solutions.
The more a group is present to their interpersonal resonance and the one shared with their environment, the more they will be in a position to perceive and welcome emerging forms, alternative realities, original perspectives. From these new forms, realities and perspectives will surface an original range of fundamentally sustainable solutions.
In a large organization, with fifty or a hundred thousand people, how can one make an effect on such a large sample? Through all of their interfaces and interactions, all of these people are in some phase of sympathetic vibration with one another, interconnected by phone calls, email, meetings, the sound of each others voices, PowerPoint presentations, hold music, telecasts from the CEO, background music in cafeterias, the cities they are located in, and basically everything that happens in connection with doing their jobs. It creates the collective resonance (and dissonance) that is the ongoing music of the company. As we say: "Your Work is Your Song". And the key is to consciously create the kind of music you want to be a part of.
The DNA and orchestral conducting of this song come from the CEO and their leadership team. Through their internal processes and interfaces, they create the tone and rhythm that will be replicated throughout the organizational system. "There is a very high degree of mirroring or reproductive coherence of processes within different sub-systems of an organization. These processes seem to be almost directly related to the processes in the 'meta system'." (
The practice of Whole System Transformation, pioneered by Roland Sullivan, suggests that you can change your song. "WST realizes the need for change, and suggests an approach that reinvents the organization itself. Whole Systems Transformation is not just a transformation of all systems in the organization; it is the reinvention of an entirely new system." (
Whole System Transformation, 2012
). Working with the leadership team to write a new musical score and reinvent their system, and then to engage large groups to co-create the themes, harmonies and arrangements that generate the new collective resonance.
How much resonance and dissonance is happening in your workplace? And is there a process that resolves dissonances into harmony, like the end of Gershwin's
Rhapsody in Blue
? Or do they linger and fester, as everyone attempts to ignore them like someone in an apartment near the el train does? Our bodies and nervous systems can be tuned like musical instruments. We can align our resonances like an orchestra, tuned to the same note. There is the potential for a powerful collective resonance inherent in every collection of humans, and the key is to take up your instrument and change the song.
As LinkedIn has reminded us, FTM is celebrating our 15th year of doing business with some of the most innovative and successful people on the planet. We started out using the blues as a vehicle for conference and business meeting participants to speak their truths about what was happening in their work. We caught some scuff from certain prospective clients about the blues. Some clients perceived us as risky and were concerned that doing a song writing workshop using the blues would just get people whining about their jobs. (As we like to say, "That's country music, not the blues").
This writer recalls a story of one of the largest Pharma's of the day using FTM for a
. It's lunchtime in NYC. We're at the Hudson Theater, home of the original Tonight Show. It's a gorgeous and timeless venue with 250 participants ready for a spectacular FTM event. There's one catch, our client is very stiff and is playing it very, very safe. Our whole show (that we're about to perform) has been censored by the lead team. We were not to play any songs with any hint of:
• Sexuality - "She's my sweet little baby, I'm her little lover boy", (
Stevie Ray Vaughan
• Violence - "You upsets me baby, yes, you upsets me baby, Well I've been hit by a fallen tree, woman, what you do to me", (
• Curse words - "Damn"
• Negativity - "They call it Stormy Monday". (
T Bone Walker
We were left with playing a song called "Funky Wardrobe Blues"; I believe the title says it all. We had our hands tied behind our backs (talk about the blues!). Next was the song writing, to our surprise what transpired was the power of music: when the participants hit the pads (not iPads it was early 2000) with pens writing songs and then performing them, the theater came to life. The event (against all odds and with no oddities) was a total success. The division leader actually apologized for the lead team's repressive requests, and they were elated with the outcome.
While reminiscing with some clients about their events recently, we got the before and after stories about how they felt going in to their FTM events and the results, outcomes and reverberations.
1. Client contact: Ginger Gregory
Event Location: The Chatham Bars Inn, MA.
What FTM says about event
Part of the reason they brought us in is that they wanted their research scientists to up their presentation skills so that they could communicate the outcomes and values of their research more skillfully. They were stone cold at the beginning of the program, but by the end were all over it. As I tell the story, I had trouble getting back to my room afterward because so many people wanted to buy me a drink and tell me what a great time they had.
Client reaction to event
"I was a bit skeptical about how the blues would help energize and re-focus a group of scientists but was fully converted after the FTM session! The process brought out immense creativity, focus and engagement which provided invaluable guidance for months and years to come." (
2. Client contact: Ipek Kursat
Company: Large global trading and agriculture company
Event Location: Oak Ridge Conference Center in Chaska, MN
What FTM says about event
Group was nervous about the stern big boss and how he might react to them singing the blues about their issues. Had a breakthrough in their relationship with him. Minnesota was cold.
Client reaction to event
"We had a Face the Music afternoon at one of the sessions of an executive development program that I managed for a global ag and trading company. The top of the house taught at the program, and we had a senior executive for that session, who was known to be a rather grim guy. So my staff were somewhat anxious about doing a blues session with him there, to say the least. I had worked with the band before and felt pretty relaxed. Well, at the end of an afternoon of blues, this executive was everybody's pal - and people felt safe to tell him some difficult truths, both in the songs they wrote and over a glass of wine afterwards." (
The above is taste of what it can be like to have an offering like FTM and have someone at a company who actually believes in it. That risk taker, as many risk takers do in life, comes out looking like a hero. FTM thanks all those risk takers that have given us an opportunity to help their company. To the ones who didn't take the risk, no worries, rejection just makes our business stronger. Right?
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up
that Face The Music can add value to?
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