September 2007 | Volume 1, Issue #3

In This Issue
Quote of Note
Recent Writings
A Fun Place
Upcoming Events
Quick Links

Many thanks for your continued interest in Jazzthink.  Over the summer, both reading and conversations have confirmed my convictions about the most pressing problems facing organizations and their leaders today.  They are directly related to the changes arising from:

  • growing diversity,
  • surprise crises, and
  • increasing complexities.

In such a working environment, jazz provides some profound lessons for those willing to learn to thrive through the turbulence.

Quote of Note

"The mechanistic, bureaucratic model for organizing - in which people do routine, repetitive tasks, in which rules and procedures are devised to handle contingencies, and in which managers are responsible for planning, monitoring and creating command and control systems to guarantee compliance - is no longer adequate.  Managers will face more rather than less interactive complexity and uncertainty.  This suggests that jazz improvisation is a useful metaphor for understanding organizations interested in learning and innovation.  To be innovative, managers - like jazz musicians - must interpret vague cues, face unstructured tasks, process incomplete knowledge, and yet they must take action anyway.  Managers, like jazz players, need to engage in dialogue and negotiation, the creation of shared spaces for decision making based on expertise rather than hierarchical position...."

Frank Barrett           

Frank J. Barrett is one of the pioneers in linking jazz to organizational well-being and remains one of the best of this small band of thinkers.   For the full text of his "Creativity and Improvisation in Jazz and Organizations," Organization Science, 9 (1998) 5:605-622, click here. Barrett now teaches in the School of Human and Organizational Development at Fielding Graduate University.

Recent Writings

"The Workplace as a Jazz Club," HR Voice, 30 (July 27, 2007) 3.


How about imagining your workplace as a jazz club? Yep, a jazz club!  Sound outrageous enough an idea to explore? Let's try it. Read more ...


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"Nonprofit Board Members as Jazz Musicians: Leadership Lessons from the Masters of Change and Surprise," Charity Channel, Nonprofit Boards and Governance Review, Wednesday, August 8, 2007.


Accountability accompanied by agility and adaptability are the prized skills in nonprofit management these days. But is there an image that would help nonprofit board members, whether volunteer or staff, understand how best to exercise responsible leadership in such an environment? Let me suggest a provocative one - the board member as jazz musician. Read more ...

A Fun Place
The Best Jazz in Vancouver
Cory Weeds heads up the Jazzthink Trio and also owns the best jazz club in Vancouver - The Cellar. Why not get together with some friends and enjoy some great food and music.  June is Jazz Festival month, so click here to find out what delights The Cellar has in store for you!  This September, I highly recommend Wednesdays at The Cellar with vocalist Melody Diachun and her group - Doug Stephenson on bass, Tilden Webb on rhodes, Cory Weeds on saxes, and Gilberto Moreaux on drums. They are the artists in residence for the month.

Brian Fraser and the Jazzthink Trio presented their "Jazzing Up Your Team" session at our recent sold-out networking event, "Jazz in Spring".  The mix of music, conversation, and best-practices ideas provoked us to imagine teamwork in a whole new way.  The link Brian drew between jazz and communication styles gave us practical tools to use right away.


Trina Wright,

Manager, Member Relations - Coastal Vancouver

British Columbia Human Resources Management Association

Upcoming Events

Join us on Thursday, September 20, 2007, when the trio and I do the Spirit at Work Luncheon in Vancouver on "Jazzing Up Your Leadership: Spirit and Swing at Work."  It runs from 12:15PM until 1:30PM and is in one of the conference rooms on the main floor of the Terasen Building at 1111 W Georgia (at Thurlow).  The cost is $15 for members and $20 for non-members.  To register, click here.


On Tuesday, September 24, I will be doing the closing plenary at the BCHRMA Northern Creating the Workplace of the Future Symposium at the Prince George Civic Centre on "The Workplace as a Jazz Club: Four Essentials to Employee Engagement."  To find out more and register, click here. 


On Thursday, September 27, I will be doing a plenary at the BCHRMA Interior Creating the Workplace of the Future Symposium at Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon on "The Workplace as Jazz Club: Four Essentials to Employee Engagement."  To find out more and register, click here. 


On Wednesday, November 7, I will be doing the closing plenary at the BCHRMA Island Creating the Workplace of the Future Symposium in Parksville on "The Workplace as Jazz Club: Four Essentials to Employee Engagement."  To find out more and register, click here


Some Tuesday morning in November or December 2007, the trio and I will be doing a Vancouver Board of Trade Manager's Toolbox on "Jazzing Up Your Leadership: How Effective Leaders Engage Colleagues."  We'll provide the link to register in our October e-zine.


On Thursday, December 6, 2007, I will be Long Beach, California, doing a session on "The Nonprofit as Jazz Club" with a trio headed up by Jeffrey Wilcox, President of Executive Consulting.  I'm proud to be associated with Jeffrey in these early stages of bringing Executive Consulting to Vancouver.  Find out more about Executive Consulting Canada by clicking here.


On Saturday, January 12, 2008, from 9:30AM - 3:30PM, the trio and I will be doing a benefit workshop for the Vancouver Chapter of the International Coach Federation at The Cellar Restaurant/Jazz Club at 3611 West Broadway in Vancouver.  It's called "Jazzing Up Your Personal Growth: The Art of Saging."  It will explore lessons we can learn from jazz about acquiring wisdom in the arts of life.  Registration information will be in the October e-zine.


I do hope to see you at some of our scheduled events this fall and would also very much like to work with you in your own organization.  Drop me an e-mail (fraser@jazzthink.com) or give me a call (604-862-6414) to explore how jazz can provoke your thinking about improved performance.


Brian Fraser

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