March 2015 | Volume 8, Issue #5    
In This Issue
The Alisdair & Brian Show - Sat, Apr 18, 2015
Provocative Jazz Quote of the Month
Great Jazz for a Great Cause
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When Jill and I were in New Orleans earlier this year, we spent some time rummaging around the book store that occupies the ground floor of William Faulkner's house in the French Quarter.


I found a gem. It's a volume called Jazz Poems in the Everyman Library series. One of the favourite lines I've found so far is from Maxwell Bodenheim's 'Bringing Jazz:'


Burning up the pain into a gale of jazz


That's great poetry for improvement artists. You feel the pain of the problems you face, but you do not let yourself be defined and debilitated by it. You burn up that pain in passionate conversations about possibilities. They form a gale that blows away some of what's causing the pain and leave the jazz of constructive conversations to work its magic.


Those conversations work best if they have a poetic focus composed of the most powerful words that give voice to your purpose. This works for organizations and for individuals. I spend whatever time it takes in consulting and coaching to provoke my clients to find those words and create that poetry. In jazz terms, this poetry becomes the chord or core chart around which the practicalities are developed, explored, and played.


I'll use my own chord chart as an example:


I convene SMARTer conversations that generate flourishing communities


There is a keynote speech in every one of those words. They have swirled around and stimulated my work for the past five years. Prior to that, various other expressions of poetic purpose moved me forward.


When I am feeling the pain, when lose my bearings in the midst of conflict and resistance, I take three deep breaths. On the inhale of each breath, I say calmly to myself, "I will convene a SMARTer conversation," and on the exhale, I say appreciatively to myself, "in order to generate a flourishing community." That simple little breathing exercise shifts my attention to the poetry of my purpose and encourages my energy to flow there.


That community you are generating may simply be between two people, or it may be with a small team sitting around a board table, or it may be among a group of 100 colleagues engaged in a complex organizational change project. The size of the group does not matter. The poetry of the purpose and the emotional clarity of the expression is the real key to aligning the practicalities into successful execution.


In the next Jazzthink E-Zine, I will pick up on how the practicalities flow from the poetry.


As always, if you think Jazzthink can help provoke the poetry and practicalities of improvement in your organization or in your leadership, get in touch with me to explore the possibilities further at






The Alisdair & Brian Show - Sat, Apr 18, 2015


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Provocative Jazz Quote of the Month

The theme song from Selma - Glory - won the Academy Award last month. The performance of that song at the Oscars moved the audience deeply and brought them to their feet in appreciation. It's not really jazz - more an intriguing blend of rap and gospel - but it resonates powerfully with the spirit of positive freedom that nourishes the jazz community. Here's some of the poetry in that song that inspires me to engage in the practicalities of improvement artistry.


We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through

Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany

Now we right the wrongs in history

No one can win the war individually

It takes the wisdom of the elders 

and young people's energy

Welcome to the story we call victory

Comin' of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory


It speaks to me about the power of music to see the dream through in the midst of things that make you bleed. It also speaks about the need for community in bringing about any significant improvement. And it speaks of the energy that leads to victory.


Great Jazz for a Great Cause

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