Episode Description

Jazz & Management: a new Art of Collaboration

Our workshop Jazz and Management proposes the Jazz "Combo" as the perfect metaphor of a new Art of collaboration deeply needed in this new world and based on values that truly serve value creation. The jazz combo metaphor allows a better way to look at our turbulent time than the symphonic orchestra. It is the living embodiment of the principles at work in organisations that are performant, innovative, inspiring, adaptative, resilient, able to accept risk and navigate in an ocean of uncertainties. The workshop makes the parallel between  Jazz combo  and collective creative intelligence at work, focus and freedom at play, improvisation within structure, etc. exactly as a team of people involved in "projects" who wish (and can) become a creative and generative force. Here is an extract.

Episode Transcript

Transcript of Jazz and the Art of Collaboration - en cours de création

Hello, my name is Jean-Louis Baudoin, and I am the CO creator of a workshop called Jazz and the art of collaboration.

We created that with an info foam biter a few years ago. And I am particularly suited to talk about jazz because I am a jazz musician. And I go back a long way into the jazz story and practice. It all started in 1949. I was 14 at the time, so guess how old I am today. The gift I received from my uncle for my birthday was a record by a saxophone player from America called Charlie Parker. And Charlie Parker was a saxophone player who played saxophone like nobody had played before. And he was involved in a movement with a few others like Dizzy Gillespie, Jones monk, and others called Bebop. Bebop was a new style, a new way of looking at music of playing it of harmonizing creating realms showing how reactive progressive and creative jazz was. I was fortunate enough to live in a city called Liège in Belgium. And Liège at the time was the capital of jazz not only of Belgium, but of Europe involved a number of good musicians who became world famous like publishers, like Rene Toma, like Jake belcea. And through my uncle, I knew all these guys and went to jam sessions and watch them play and became pet friendly. And one day I remember going into module me, you know, you should play the bongos because Afro Cuban jazz is fun. And we don't have any Bongo player around. So why don't you play the bongos so I bought some bongos and started playing, and had a radio broadcast in, which was fun. And we went on from there to drums, and I played drums for a while. And one day I was in a gig and bass player didn't show up, he was sick. And the piano player told me Shall we pick up the bass and play the bass and so I can't play the bass as well, don't worry, you pull the strings and, you know, see what happens. So I plugged the strings, and apparently it went well, because nobody complained. So during my Law Studies at the University of Lethbridge, I had five years of a lot of free time to study the instrument, practice it and play in local clubs and jam sessions and orchestras and became a rather good bass player and played with top notch musicians in festivals like umbrella to world famous in the 60s, and had a good time doing that. What happened then is, as I grew up, and became a little bit more conscious of processes and ways things were going or, and my studies also helped me, I realized that jazz was a form of miracle of human relations, jazz meant that people who've never met before, who belong to the category of jazz musicians can get together, having never played together and can play in a very constructive, fun and interesting way. Although they have not rehearsed, they have not played together before. And that really was impressive. It probably influenced my life a lot until up today, because what the workshop does is reproduce exactly what happens in a jazz orchestra. It's what I call instant inclusion. You go anywhere in the world, you're a musician, you go to a jazz club, and you say, Hello, I'm whatever, trumpet player or saxophone player, bass player from Belgium. May I sit in with you guys and play? And they usually say, Oh, yes. And ask you the guest. What would you like to play? So you say, let's say, Autumn Leaves, very famous tune and 1234. And there you are, you're playing together. You don't even know their name, and it works. So it's really impressive as a process of operation, process of sharing, process of creation, process of respect, process of fun. Two examples,

the line personally lived. One day I was in Madrid for my work, and I heard there was a jazz club called the whiskey jazz club. Owned funnily enough, it moves on to Bobo whiskey company. And I went there and sudden shut in with the Spanish music And the next day they took me out and they helped me visit Madrid, the way Madrid person would do not tourists. And another time I was in Hanoi. And Greg huben, trumpet player told me that there was a jazz club in Hanoi, called Binh Minh. And I went there and said, You know, I'm friend of Greg COVID. He had played there. I'm a bass player at maps sit in with you guys, is Oh, yes, sure, of course. And we played, and I didn't even know the name. We found out yesterday after that, who we were, and they took me out the next day to visit Hanoi, and we discover real Vietnamese food, street food and it was wonderful. So jazz is a wonderful traveling companion, and encounter companion and friendship generator. Why did we invent the jazz and collaboration workshop, because jazz seemed to us better adapted metaphor of the times we're going through now, as opposed to the pyramid metaphor that was used before. The parent metaphor is an organization with somebody at the top. It's like what the people used to call the symphony orchestra, like her bird from carry on at the top, choosing the repertoire, choosing the tempos, choosing everything and imposing his will to between 100 and 120, people who were reading scores, pre written scores, turning pages and having nothing to say about anything. The same was true with companies like General Electric, for instance, where a man like was the Herbert on carry on of industry and General Electric was to Berlin filarmonica, Jack Welch made a lot of money for the shareholders. But that was probably it. So the metaphor of jazz enabled us to move from the pyramid and the silos to the combo of jazz, which is a combination of musicians who have decided to play together around not a leader, but someone who is even better and recognized as a master and attracts young talent to play with him. In a small group. The pyramid is therefore abandoned, the pyramid being characterized by command and control, as we saw, and the combo being characterized by focus and freedom. And I may want to go a little bit more deep, deeply in the notion of focus and freedom. There are four elements that are important to consider when you talk about jazz as a jazz metaphor. The four elements are the following First of all, is the mastery, mastery of the instrument. The second is the focus. The third is creativity and freedom. And the fourth is the playing together, I may, I'd like to go into more details for each point. First of all, the mastery the mastery, of course, if you are not a master of your instrument, and music reading, you have nothing to do in a jazz combo. So forget it, so that the technique is no longer an obstacle, but a source of freedom. And Liberty. Mastery is key to a relaxed approach to producing, performing and making things happen.

The second, which I want to talk about is focus and focus takes many shapes. Focus is may be on the sound of the group. How are we going to sound different? Original, interesting, the focus may be on the repertoire. How are we going to identify ourselves with a certain type of composition, a certain type of sound, the focus may be on the number or the tune, we're going to play next. And the focus may be on the tempo, the key, the rhythm, and the difference between the tempo and the rhythm is interesting. Tempo is the speed at which you're going to play number 1234 or 12341234. That's tempo. Rhythm is the style of rhythm. Are we going to play let's say a famous tune called autumn leaves? Dada Dada Dada Didi? Are we going to play it in G minor in E flat? let's all agree on the key, let's agree on a tempo. And let's agree on a rhythm. So, example, da da, da, da, da, da, da, da, that's the tempo. And we decide to do the introduction in Afro Cuban, da, da, da, da, da, da dun, dun da, da, you see the difference. So all these elements are elements on which to focus on focus, very important. The third element is freedom. Now, what is freedom? Freedom is the Liberty you have within well identified constraints. And the constraints we just talked about some of them, the key, the tempo, the rhythm, another country may be the audience, are we playing for people who know or are mature, etc, etc. Freedom is something that makes things possible.

It's freedom is not chaos, freedom is organized Liberty within well identified constraints. And then when you have that freedom, you can play well, and actively and precisely without taking any risks of being outside of the limits.

And the last element is the playing playing together is involves many things. First of all, the playing together means that you are serving a whole W H, O L. E, we're not talking about golf here, serving the whole means that you're at the surface of the orchestra of the sound of the cetera, sharing the hole, you have to be exactly aware of what's happening, you have to be bringing your whole self to the scene, your best self, your generosity, your friendship, your authenticity, and the trust, you can develop for others on you. There is nothing worse in a band that people competing to be the star. I was in groups like that. And it's really difficult. We live that in savy when we were with Eric levy playing industrial and we were a very good trio, and then came in American trio, who asked if they could play a tune, and they were competing, the bass player was trying to be better than the drummer, who was trying to overtake everything and be better than both a pianist and a drummer. It was horrible. So bringing playing together is really key. And the the only way to play together is to trust to respect to listen carefully, to bring ways of making the other shine. And moreover, in the combo, you always have a peace of stardom, because you solo at one time, and your solo is you your moment of glory. So that's exactly what jazz can do for you is a new way of working together in total respect in fun, which is also a dimension, which is important and rarely found companies and believe it or not, it works. And it has worked for years because over 30 years ago, people like Ricardo Semler in Brazil, for instance, had invented a sort of liberated company and invented the concept of industrial democracy, the origin of the liberated company, which is so popular now, and illustrated in the book, by this young Belgian, and another guy in California, by the name of Chris ROFR, had invented the self management concept. In the company, everybody was his own boss, there were no titles. There were no no special privileges. Everybody had the right to sign a check for a useful tool for the exercise of their job. So now we're rediscovering things that existed a long time ago. And it worked. People are still doubting because command and control is still a very strong principle of management. And to tell you how striking and shocking the Chris roofer was at the time of guru of management by the name of Gary Hamel wrote an article in the business review of the Harvard University which is not a fanclub, as you know, and he wrote a book called an article or other called Let's fire all managers, which raised a few eyebrows. So that's what I have to say about our workshop, the workshop jazz and collaboration enables to jam together, have fun together. And we've practiced it in many companies so far. And we got wonderful results and smiles on faces, which is important. I remember when one case we were working with a huge group of 50 people working on 14 projects. And we were talking about jazz and everybody was listening carefully in one guy was smiling all the time. So at Question time, I asked him, Cesar, why are you smiling? So is it because what you're telling us is so wonderful. And it's such an ideal? And I say, Well, are you working on a project said, Yes. What kind of project is that? What's the name of the projects it? Well, it's Project 85, slash 92, slash four. And I said, Gee, that's exciting. You know, you wake up in the morning, and you say, I'm working on projects on so so so. And what's the project about? And he said, Well, we have invited a tile, which is going to this assay fried rain. She's great.

You know, it's wonderful. Why don't you call it thinking in the rain? I'm thinking in the rain, and he's laughing. Everybody left? Good like that. Should? Yes, I do. Do you need a drummer? And should? Yes, I'd like to have him why because he keeps time is good at delays. It's good, you know, working weeks and so forth. Fine. Well, you'd like a bass player said yes, I'd like him. Why? Because he sends good vibes. Okay, fine. You need a piano player. And in 15 minutes, he had a team of quote unquote, metaphorical musicians, all smiling and looking forward to jamming together.

That's what it's all about.

John Carter

Entrepreneur & Podcaster

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