Music as our Metaphor
Our name has its roots in music because music is a metaphor that speaks to the rhythms of life. Each note, in and of itself, has a beauty and presence of its own. The challenge is to arrange the notes in our organizations, our communities, and in our lives in ways that inspire and move us toward higher levels of performance and impact. That’s easier said than done.
Music is a perfect way to describe how we understand our mission. Great musicians will often say it is nearly impossible to play the same piece of music, the exact same way, every single time. Music is shaped by circumstance.
As we think about our work, we think of jazz. Wynton Marsalis once said, “Jazz…is an art form that can give us a painless way of understanding ourselves. The real power and the real innovation of jazz is that a group of people can come together and create art, improvised art, and can negotiate their agendas with each other and that negotiation is the art.”
Like jazz, life is also about negotiation. Life requires us to repeatedly negotiate a world increasingly marked by changing circumstances.
Our approach borrows many of the principles and lessons from jazz as a method to better understand how to bring out the best in people, despite the circumstances. Jazz represents the harmonious combination of disparate elements, and the combinations change as the environment changes. Like jazz, many of us are forced to perform in environments where there is no formal sheet of music and where the tempo and the quality of play are determined less by a conductor and more often by external forces.
Today, our world looks less like conductor-led orchestras and more like jazz bands where leadership and performance are shared and where agility and improvisation are the expectation.
HOW WE APPROACH OUR WORK
Symphonic is an aspirational word. It describes a “harmonious arrangement” or the “interweaving of disparate parts.”
A symphonic strategy™ takes the individual, autonomous parts and positions them so they complement each other. Symphonic strategies represent the harmonious arrangement of your gifts and talents. They are mission-centric and purpose-driven. They have the power to capture our attention and activate our imagination. They enable us to see the impossible, to play from the soul, and to move the crowd.
Symphonic strategies™ are designed to bring out your best—regardless of the circumstances.
We have a few go-to strategies that we prefer to use in our engagements and you can read more about some of them below.
Foresight relies on an ability to anticipate what we describe as the cascading impact of an action or event. Foresight is a forward-looking approach that envisions several possible futures. It allows us to present you with choices and decisions you can make today that are designed to influence your experience in the future.
Framing is an approach we use to help you understand your circumstances from different vantage points. It draws on a positive and optimistic view of what’s possible. Frames can help you interpret the meaning of critical events and situations, and they can inspire and trigger action when crafted appropriately.
Design thinking is a problem-solving approach that places you, the individual, at the center of the process. We like to employ design thinking in our work because it leads to solutions that are informed by the unique features of your environment. With design thinking, the circumstances matter, and the solutions must properly reflect how you will interact with those circumstances.
Appreciative inquiry is an approach or a strategy that builds on what’s positive. It’s often described as a strengths-based approach because it truly seeks to accentuate what’s working. We routinely approach our work by looking for ways to enhance the assets available—in people, in organizations, in communities, and in systems.