Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking Care of Business; JUST THE JOB

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking Care of Business; JUST THE JOB

Article excerpt


Once 'too wacky' for business, jazz improvisation has new parallels in the corporate world, says Tina Bexson THINK of jazz. Think rhythm, communication, interpretation and improvisation. Then think of the relationships and dynamics of your workplace. Notice any comparisons? You should.

According to forward-thinking management gurus, the jazz metaphor is now especially relevant to what people want, need, and increasingly do at work.

As the American leadership consultant said, "Running an organisation is like leading a jazz ensemble; it's all improvisation." In the past it had been described as being "akin to conducting a symphony orchestra".

Over here, Dominic Alldis, a London jazz pianist and composer, is giving presentations to companies and business schools using music as a metaphor for a range of organisational issues such as teamwork, leadership and, most of all, creativity. Many of his eclectic mix of clients, including Barclays Bank, Diageo, Mars, New Look, the Work Foundation (formerly the Industrial Society) and Cartier, are now using the information as part of their training packages.

"When I approached them three years ago, I wouldn't even get a letter back," says Alldis. "It was seen as too wacky for them, but now there is lots of interest.

"Music is a universal language for communicating ideas and emotions, and musical concerns such as technique, listening and preparation all provide a stimulating insight into familiar management concerns."

In the leadership presentation, Alldis contrasts the role of the conductor in an orchestra with how leadership functions in jazz. He reveals how the orchestral metaphor is old and hierarchical and how the jazz metaphor of leadership is more rotational and empowering where people build on each other's ideas. "Metaphorically you can say everybody wants to be a jazz musician.

Everybody wants that kind of freedom and creative input. …

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