Writing and performing songs improves your work results!
The CEO comes on to the stage at the annual meeting and starts in on a cryptic introduction—"Today we have something very special in store for you." He's standing at a mic in front of drums, amplifiers—a whole band setup. "We've got a band that's a little different; they're a group of skilled musicians and business consultants, and they're going to lead us in a special process. They've been featured on CNN, Fox News, NPR, and in Fast Company and Fortune magazines. They've done their magic with companies like..." and he drops 5 or 6 Fortune 500 company names—"GE, Microsoft, AT&T, J&J," etc. He finishes his intro, and the people still don't know what's going on.
The band breaks into our opening song; we're rockin' but they're probably wondering what's going on. When the song's over the band plays a rock version of a fanfare, and then drops down low. The MC steps forward. "Welcome to Face The Music. Tonight you're going to have a unique opportunity: You will have the chance, in collaboration with your teammates, to write and perform a song about your work at ABC corporation." "OK," they're probably thinking,
"Why would I want to do that?!"
Well, why would you want to do that? What is the business case for songwriting? I mean, these people have intense jobs, they have a lot of responsibility; they have 112 emails in their inbox. Why take their precious time together after they've traveled to wherever they are from all over the world to make some lyrics, get up on stage, and sing a song? They're not musicians, songwriters, Grammy hopefuls; they are research scientists, regional business leaders, VP's of sales-HR-marketing-technology planning-whatever, project managers—whatever the group.
The songwriting process in the teams becomes a mini business simulation. The teams have to deliver a product—their song—in a limited amount of time, with the resources available. In order to do that they have to quickly access what their resources are—talent, time, the FTM workbook and coaches, the ideas they have, and the experiences they have together, both at the event/training they are at, and back on the job.
They swiftly create a project plan for how to use the time: agree on what to write about (they have already had time to define and discuss themes and issues), choose roles for the project—moderator, timekeeper, scribe, choose a name for their band (team), decide what kind of song style/genre to write, generate lyrics, refine and edit, decide who's singing what (any choreography?), and rehearse. Whew! It happens fast; just like at work.
The traits that will help them be successful are some of the same traits that will help them be successful at work: They need to communicate, collaborate, be creative; generate, evaluate, adapt and develop ideas, listen! Manage their time and resources, and use talent effectively. Being innovative helps their group stand out amidst all the others. If they become aware of how they are feeling, both about the issues they writing about and the process itself, it adds dimension and impact to their song; the audience connects and relates to it, and this connects to the emotional intelligence work that many organizations are doing.
The more quickly a group can come together as a team, the more effective they are going to be. They have to demonstrate leadership—and also "followership" in their group process. They have to make decisions along the way: "What are the criteria, how do we decide, what do we do to resolve disagreement?"
Gizmo of the Month
Creativity Is Not The Same As Innovation
Customer Manufacturing Update
(Recently Face The Music started a Q&A in our Newsletter. We were honored when marketing specialist Mitchell Goozé signed up for the first round of fielding your questions. As we are doing a round robin of sort, we will be featuring a new consultant in next month's newsletter. In the meantime, enjoy this article by Mitch.)
Back in the early 1980s Roger von Oech got everyone excited about the power of creativity. His book, A Whack on the Side of the Head, was a business best-seller as many CEOs believe that if their people were more creative, the company would perform better. Truth of the matter is that most companies do not lack for ideas, or even great ideas. They lack the ability to execute on those ideas, or the few right ones.
Paul Currant wrote an intriguing blog post: "Why Companies Shouldn't Hire Creative People." He tells a story of a prior and successful boss of his who realized the company she had been hired to turn around did not lack for creativity, they lacked for execution. It is also likely that her preferred behavior style was not a creative either, so she pushed the company to do things that were comfortable for her, and right for the company.
Innovation, the engine of competitive advantage, is not just about creativity. It is about taking new ideas and DOING something with them.
Mitchell Goozé (honored speaker at the Commonwealth Club) is the president and founder of Customer Manufacturing Group. His broad scope of business experience ranges from operations management in established firms, to start-up and turn-around situations and mergers
There is also a powerful aspect that the spirit and fun that they are having while working on this project helps them to bring more of themselves into it. Imagine bringing that to your work; it takes it to another level entirely, and this process gives them the experience of working together in just that way.
Great. But how do we get that to transfer to back on the job when they leave this meeting or conference, this special environment, and go back to the full tilt boogie of the work situation? The experience itself starts that process; we did it, and got a taste of some new possibilities. The next step is to look at the experience and work on transforming it into learning. Usually the next morning, we hold a review or debrief. What did you like, and how can that transfer? What tendencies came up that tripped up or slowed the process, and how are those showing up at work? What changes can we make to make our work more like our song?
This process has helped create dramatic shifts in a variety of situations in organizations: merger integration, executive development training, culture change initiatives, annual planning, sales meetings... Inviting people into a process that engages them creatively, challenges what they think is possible, and connects them powerfully—that's why you want to do that.
11 Leadership Lessons from Jazz Musicians
Jazz musicians are agile and dynamic.
They are gracious--but not shy. Here's what you can take from the stage to the board room.
Just as you'd learn a great deal from a trusted advisor, so too can non-traditional sources help you to expand your knowledge base. Jazz musicians are agile and dynamic, carrying their group's song and themes through the diversified landscape to the end. Quite frankly, I don't know anyone better to provide leadership advice than a professional jazz player for this very reason. Here are some powerful takeaways I've picked up along the way from incredible musician leaders--let these lessons shine at your business, and your cube will get a lot swankier.
1. Playing it safe gets you tossed off the stage. Some executives would say that in today's turbulent economy, takings risks isn't wise. If you don't take risks you'll never excel. Playing it safe all the time becomes the most dangerous move of all.
2. There are no do-overs in live performances. For every hour in a "performance" setting, you should spend five hours practicing. Athletes do this, musicians do this--muscle memory is no different in the board room, in front of a new client, or with your team. So why aren't you doing this?
3. Listening to those around you is three times more important than what you play yourself. If you're the one talking all the time, you're not learning anything. Listen, absorb what you hear, and use the information to make a conscious choice about whatever you're facing.
4. There's a time to stand out as a soloist and a time to support others and make them shine. You rocked a project--nicely done. Praise is well-deserved. However, as a leader, it's more likely the case that your team members rocked a project, together. Susie was on top of her game with the slide deck? Tell her--and tell the client. Johnny couldn't have articulated the challenge to the press any more astutely? Refer back to his commentary as a stellar example. When you can share the wealth, everyone wins.
5. Expect surprises and adversity, since jazz (and life) is about how you respond and adapt. If running a business was always smooth sailing, everyone would do it. That being said, the old adage explains that "a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor." Anticipate hurdles and maximize your team's effort to jump over them.
6. Know your audience. If you're playing for a group that's looking forward to something slow and calming and you get on stage and play a wild and crazy, upbeat riff, nobody will dig it--even if it's a well-crafted piece. Your customers are the same. If you're not working to provide them with something they want and need, you're doomed to fail.
7. It's always better leaving people wanting more, rather than less. Of course as you live and breathe your business, you have a visceral urge to share every piece of minutia with anyone who asks. Don't. Instead of pouring it all on at once, give people a teaser, so they crave the next bit you explain. In similar fashion, don't try and launch 15 products at once for a new line; start with one or two to get people begging for more.
8. The best leaders are those that make others sound good. Big band leaders bring out the best in their troupes--during a sax solo, his job is to make sure the drum line supports the sax player with a quality backdrop to make the riff shine especially bright. Are you putting these pieces together on your team? Where could someone excel that they're being held back? Shatter those boundaries and encourage creativity to soar.
9. Pattern recognition is easier than raw genius. If you drive the same way to work every day for a year, you're bound to learn about--and avoid--the pothole on Main Street that you pass each time. Jazz is no different; if you've played combinations countless times, it becomes second nature to pair new things together based on previous patterns. So too in business, seasoned executives and professionals have seen so many types of people, deals, projects, and processes, so it becomes much easier for them to avoid these proverbial potholes, rather than having to start from scratch every time.
10. Shy musicians are starving artists. If you're playing a gig, you get paid when there's butts in seats, so you can't be shy in telling people about the upcoming show. Why haven't you been this bold in your new product launch? Are your employees evangelical about your company's culture? Are your vendors singing your praises?
11. Keeping it new and fresh is mandatory. Jazz has its roots in real-time, collaborative innovation, just like the act of starting and growing companies. If you're not actively seeking new challenges and ways to expand your horizons, you are automatically falling behind.
Legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck put it best, and his words resonate not only on stage for musicians but also in life for business leaders. As he so eloquently described it, "There's a way of playing safe, there's a way of using tricks and there's the way I like to play, which is dangerously, where you're going to take a chance on making mistakes in order to create something you haven't created before."
What event, initiative or challenge do you have coming up that Face The Music can add value to?