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If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.Goethe

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Yes to the Mess

Yes to the Mess

How to draw inspiration from jazz music to reconcile individual creativity and collective performance in business?

Author(s): Frank J. Barrett

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

Date of publication: 2012

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What does jazz have to do with the management of business organizations? At first glance, not much. Yet, jazz in itself represents a form of very free and yet highly codified organization, from which companies that want to be more agile can take inspiration. Frank J. Barrett is himself a management professor and jazz musician. His intimate knowledge of these two disciplines enables him to draw interesting parallels. We have already heard of examples of certain improvisation practices applied to business, such as IBM’s “Innovation Jams.” But Yes to the Mess goes further than that. The author deeply explores how professional jazz bands operate. He deciphers the implicit rules, mindset and behaviors that allow great musicians to reconcile individual improvisation and the consistency of a collective piece of music. Rather than being a matter of chance or innate talent, he shows that the exceptional performance of these players is the fruit of hard work and self-discipline which can be transposed to the business world to reconcile creativity and performance, individual excellence and collective success.