Frank Barrett – Jazz Improvisation

mickyates ideas, Inspiration, leadership Leave a Comment

I was lucky enough to share a glass of wine with Frank last week, although unlucky to miss his performance (you may know he is a professional jazz musician as well as an AI / Organizational expert). In “Creativity and Improvisation in Jazz and Organizations: Implications for Organizational Learning,” a 1998 article, he notes that the following features of jazz improv are helpful to us org design mortals …

  • Interrupt habits
  • Embrace errors as a source of learning
  • Allow maximum flexibility through minimal structures
  • Continually negotiate toward dynamic synchronicity
  • Rely on retrospective sense making
  • Be a member of a Community of Practice
  • Alternate between soloing and supporting

Now, I know how to interrupt, and I have to face a lot of my own (and other people’s errors). But it seems to me that “alternating between soloing and supporting” may be the real magic. And being a “member of a community of practice” is a pretty close second. Check out Etienne Wenger….

Perhaps that is why Frank and I talked also about the legendary Cream (who are briefly reuniting at the Albert Hall next week – and we failed to get tickets!). Can you remember the 60’s?

Genghis Khan

mickyates leadership Leave a Comment

Just finished watching a one hour documentary on Genghis from the BBC. Well produced, and quite riveting. Did a good job on explaining Genghis’ superb generalship (no, I do not approve of his violent methods, but you can’t help but admire his strategic thinking …), but only really hinted (I guess because of the time allowed) at the “civilian” infrastructure he put in place to hold the empire together. Would have been worth two hours of filming!

I quite like the “guide to management” Jennifer Quinn of the BBC wrote alongside the program.

  • Profit share
  • Hate office politics
  • Run a meritocracy
  • Embrace change
  • Think ahead

Nothing new under the sun?