Recently, I had the good fortune of seeing Sonny Rollins in concert. Any one member of Sonny’s band would hold the stage on their own.
Sonny Rollins was the drawcard but the concert was not just about him; the band collectively made it about the music, together as a whole, not any one individual. Obvious solos abound but mini-solos and subtle by-lines ran through the various cuts and all throughout you could see musicians seeing, feeling, expressing in response to the others. Two hours flew by like it was only 20 minutes – no breaks, very little jabber, just pure enjoyment.
Watching them reminded me how we strive to bring together our various operational and project teams.
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Huh? I thought you were talking about Sonny Rollins? What does Jazz have to do with teams?”
Watch a good jazz band and you’ll see a team collaborating and sharing the whole. Watch a tight, outstanding, mind-blowing group and you’ll see magic happening and the outcome is on a whole different level.
How do some groups achieve magic? Watch and learn from the greats… you’ll see they LISTEN to each other and their whole blend. The spotlight is SHARED and they aren’t afraid to TRY. Innovation is part of their nature; dare I say habitual. They display emergent behaviour – complex patterns arising from simple interactions.
Jazz is characterised by improvisation, syncopation tied together by regular underlying rhythm(s). As the team lead or manager, we do whatever is needed to help maintain the underlying directional beat while the overall team contributes their various melodies, counter-melodies and rhythms. We don’t insist on keeping the spotlight or insist on being the only one driving the beat, but work alongside those that we lead. And like a jazz group, a well performing team adapts as the situation morphs and different voices emerge.
Magic doesn’t happen often enough and never happens on its own but the magic is there.
I believe in magic.