What Can Jazz Teach Us about Business?

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You might not think that jazz and business have much in common, but a business professor who moonlights as a jazz pianist begs to differ.

Frank Barrett, author of “Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz,” makes a convincing case that the ability to improvise and collaborate in the face of constant change is as important to business people as it is to jazz musicians. So sit back, listen to “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis or another jazz favorite and contemplate some tips gleaned from Barrett’s work:

Deviate from routines. Rote activity doesn’t lead to the path of innovation or disruptive technology.

Make plans flexible. Written strategies must allow room for flexibility to ensure freedom to collaborate and discover.

Don’t seek linear growth. A jazz-driven approach requires the constant revision of assumptions and lessons learned from failure.

Anticipate change. If you’re ready for change, you can respond more effectively when it comes.

Maintain baseline expectations. Even while embracing unconventional approaches, standards still apply.

Adapted from Ten Leadership Traits Learned from Jazz at CIO Insight.