Jazz Up Your Business



The best performers are the jazz types who move with ease in the different sectors of the economy.” So says Vuyo Jack in his article “Why business is like producing a musical show” (IOL 2/10/2011).

He recalls an anecdote from his music production, where he depends on variously skilled players to come together and play a piece of music. A band in music terms, a team in project management terminology. Now, Leons Second Rule Of Painful Projects states that things should be written down, and so he dutifully sits down and writes the sheet music. Makes sense, right? The idea is that all the musicians will be “on the same page”.

Except for one small problem: Some of the musicians could not read music. So, he had to reduce his performance to only two songs that the musicians could remember.

It made me think back on The Great Professionalism Debate where we discussed the issue of competence and whether you need to be certified to deliver excellent work. In the case of Vuyo above, the musicians were excellent performers (he says “the bassist had only a rudimentary understanding of musical theory but had the uncanny ability to make the bass walk like a pro”). However, they were unusable to him because he could not shape their work to deliver the outcome here desired.

On the two extremes of the scale there are the guys with an ear for music but no theory to back it up, and the guys who can play perfectly if they have sheet music but their sound is soulless. In between he puts the jazz musicians, who are able to draw from both sides. They have sufficient theory to put standards together, but they also have sufficient experience to improvise when needed. Vuyo says we need more of these “jazz musicians” in our economy, people who can move with ease between the different sectors and meet the demands of various customers.

My question still stands: How much, exactly, formal qualifications do you need? Do you need a highly theoretical analyst with many qualifications, or do you need a hard worker who can do the work but is unable to understand and respond to variances.

2 Responses to “Jazz Up Your Business”

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