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.