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December 2009 | Volume 3, Issue #6

In This Issue
Jazz in Fordham's MBA Program
Jazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month
What are People Saying about Jazzthink
Church at Christmas with Melody Daichun and the Jazzthink Trio
The Cellar Jazz Club
Quick Links
The Conference Board of Canada released a report on November 16, 2009, that found that various generations in the workplace have more in common than previously thought.  Specifically, all generations expect respect, flexibility, fairness, and the opportunity to do interesting and rewarding work.  These common values form the foundation of a vibrant and flourishing workplace for any organization.  Honouring them and convening conversations among generations on how to innovate around them for improved customer satisfaction is the primary responsibility of leadership today.
David LaPiana, in a recent report focused on the nonprofit sector but applicable across the organizational landscape, argues that to thrive everyone "must become futurists" in the sense that they all must be curious and willing to take astute risks.  It is our responsibility to envision and shape futures ourselves, rather than waiting for others to do it for us.  Co-creating the future, with all generations thinking and creating together through compelling conversations, is the true source of innovation that sticks, of continuous improvement that finds ever more effective ways of delivering the core values we hold in common.
Compelling conversations - ones that attract attention, cultivate interest, gain respect, and generate action - require deliberate practice and patient persistence.  Leaders do their work with and through other people by convening such conversations on an ongoing basis, one conversation after another, as the desired future is co-created through the conversations.
It is a lot like jazz.  When I asked jazz musicians about the core values identified in the Conference Board study, they were very clear.  They had the greatest fun playing with people who respected them, showed flexibility in appreciating their contribution, were fair in providing space to perform, and did interesting and rewarding work.  And age didn't matter.  The foundational values did. 
There are significant differences among the generations in the ways these values are understood and lived out, but to convene conversations that are clearly grounded in the values themselves offers the best approach to working through whatever differences exist in your organization and discovering your optimal flow of collaboration across the generations.


Brian Fraser
Jazz in Fordham's MBA Program 

FordhamJohn Hollwitz (far left in photo), Professor of Management at Fordham University in New York City, is using jazz in his orientation for Fordham's MBA program for mid-career executives, taking them into the Lincoln Centre and hooking them up with jazz groups.  They experience improvisation as a means of forming cohesive groups that must work together as a team and perform in high-impact, high-energy setting.  Click here to listen to a fascinating interview with Hollwitz.  Remember, Jazzthink can do the same for your organization. 

Jazz, Leadership, and Teamwork Quote of the Month

I ran across a blog entry written by Stephen Shapiro, author of 24/7 Innovation (2002).  He is another fan of Frank Barrett, a jazz musician and professor of organizational development who wrote what I still consider to be the seminal article on jazz and organizations back in 1998.  Here's part of what Shapiro had to say about innovation and jazz in organizations after attending a seminar that Barrett gave at Harvard. Click here to read the whole blog.
... we need jazz-like organizations. Innovation is not random. In fact, it emerges best when there is a structure to nurture it, much like jazz in the world of music. Jazz is heavy on innovation ('improvisation' in musical terms). Just as innovation is not random, neither is improvisation. Jazz has a simple structure, like 12-bar, B-flat blues. It has a rhythm, chord progression, and tempo.

Businesses need much the same to succeed: Simple structures that allow innovation to emerge, in the moment, when it is needed most.
Leaders have the responsibility to provide both the structure and the space for their teams to innovate in this way.  They do it one conversation after another, creating a working environment for their teams that encourages and appreciates all the wisdom the room.  Read Barrett's article to get a richer and deeper understanding of how this dynamic works in your organization.  

What are People Saying about Jazzthink

Our new division is off to a great start! Through an interactive presentation, Brian and Jazzthink set the stage for everyone to identify with their team and communicate to others. Against the backdrop of the jazz trio, Brian solicited wisdom from everyone, encouraging them to identify the characteristics of good conversations.  Our young division was energized and coalesced around the idea of using conversations as a means of moving forward.  Brian was inspirational.

Bena Luxton,
Project Manager, Corporate Project Management Services
Business Transformation at ICBC

Happen Vancouver had the pleasure of welcoming Brian Fraser back to speak in November 2009.  Brian's communication abilities are really second to none and he brings so many benefits to a diverse audience.  His unique approach to coaching and assisting people in transition are both thought provoking and insightful.  Brian ensures that everyone leaves with something meaningful to themselves through the art and 'music' of his own collaborative communications expertise.  His messages and wisdom were inspiring to us all!
Kim Conroy & Lorna Anderson
HAPPEN Vancouver
Church at Christmas with Melody Daichun and the Jazzthink Trio

As I mentioned in my last e-zine, I'm going back into the parish half-time at Brentwood Presbyterian Church, 1600 Delta Ave., Burnaby, BC.  On Dec. 20, 2009, at 4:00PM, we are doing Jazz Vespers for Christmas with vocalist Melody Daichum (Juno and National Jazz Awards nominee) and the Jazzthink Trio (Cory Weeds on sax, Bill Weeds on guitar, and Doug Stephenson on bass).  Please join us for some Christmas spirit and cheer.  Click here for more details.


Enjoy Great Jazz in Vancouver 

The Cellar Logo

 "Vancouver's answer to the Village Vanguard, this small (70-seat) club/restaurant presents the best local jazz, as well as some touring acts.  Great sound, which has been used to enhance the club's record label, Cellar Live."
- Down Beat magazine's list of 100 best jazz clubs in the February 2009 issue