The old saying goes, “The only thing constant in life is change.” And with the current pace of change in the workplace, there is a demand for businesses to be ready for anything and everything. In order for business leaders to thrive in today’s market, they must be receptive, responsive, and adaptive. But how can business leaders prepare themselves for the unexpected?
Frank J. Barrett, professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, suggests that business leaders take a cue from jazz musicians and practice improvisation.
In his article featured in Fast Company, Barrett explains how the skills jazz musicians develop while improvising can also be helpful working in the office. Through improvisation, one nurtures spontaneity, cultivates creativity, encourages experimentation, and facilitates dynamic synchronization—all traits that are becoming increasingly necessary to succeed in business. By harnessing these qualities, businesses will be better equipped to tackle challenges that come their way.
Barrett proposes the following practices to help business leaders replicate the environment of a jazz band jam session:
Treat each task as an experiment
Every time a jazz musician improvises with a band, he/she tries different combinations of notes and rhythms over the chord changes of a song. As the musician performs, he or she is aware of his or her actions, listens to what works musically, and is receptive to others’ responses. Each spontaneous composition, therefore, becomes a learning process.
By adopting this experimental approach for the office, Barrett believes you will obtain a mindset focused on discovery. Because you are constantly proposing new ideas and testing new hypotheses, you are more receptive to different ways of thinking and encourage breaking the routine. By consistently approaching projects through this process of trial and error, you become more aware of yourself and your own experiences, and you consequently learn more. Read the rest of this entry »