Thought Provokers on Productive Teamwork

Jazz musicians play from core charts – not detailed scores of every note that every instrument plays, but sparse scores of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. The musicians then improvise to create the results they want to achieve for their audiences. These thought provokers are some of the core charts we use at Jazzthink in our keynotes and seminars, inviting participants to take the ideas and improvise with them in their own situation in ways that meet their own particular needs.


Behaviours That Hinder and Help Performance

While working with different organizations, we've noticed the impact of certain styles of behaviour on the performance of the group. Whether performing service or music, cynicism, criticism, and cruising hinder the desired results of collaboration. Catalytic contribution accelerates the achievement of those results.

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High Performing Organizations

Jazzthink uses a lot of acronyms in its work. We find it helps people remember the important stuff. Here's one of the best we've found. SCORES represents the six elements evident in the High Performing Organizations (HPOs) that Ken Blanchard and his colleagues have worked with in the 25 years since the publication of The One Minute Manager. Blanchard describes them in his latest book, Leading at a Higher Level (2007). As we listen to what our clients see in the workings and wisdom of jazz, we hear them speaking of the power of each of these six elements as well. Let's explore the parallels between Blanchard's HPOs and a great jazz group.

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Optimal Team Performance: Lessons from Jazz

The Jazzthink model for teamwork is built around an acronym for TEAM: Talent, Enjoyment, Alignment,and Manifestation.

Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, in their seminal research on teams, defined teams as small groups of people "with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable." That's a pretty good definition of a great jazz group as well. Katzenbach and Smith found 8 approaches shared by successful teams, be they performing in the workplace or in the jazz club. Let's see how these approaches fit into the Jazzthink model.

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The Five Steps Towards Great Trust

Lack of trust is a subtle but powerful barrier to great results. It can masquerade behind simply adequate performance, but when the push is on for superior results, lack of trust inevitably raises its toxic head. So, paying attention to the steps to great trust pays great dividends.

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Five Healthy Signs of a Cohesive Team

Patrick M. Lencioni has written some of the most engaging books on the dynamics of leadership in organizations that we have run across in recent years. They are short, built around a single story, and filled with astute wisdom.

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Getting into the Swing of Values-Based Teamwork

Rob LeBow and William Simon discovered a University of Chicago study that collated the results from 17,000,000 surveys done in 40 different countries that sought to identify what employees wanted in their workplaces to perform at the top of their game. LeBow and Simon then did over 100,000 surveys of their own to confirm the 8 core values they found that motivated employees most.

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Jazzthink's Four Essentials of Productive Employee Engagement

Performance and results depends on employee engagement. Jazzthink has worked with a lot of organizations helping them play above their current levels of engagement and performance. Here are the 4 things we think are essential to productive employee engagement.

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SMART Performance

Organizations want improved performance, but great performance can't be imposed. It has to arise from within the people who are creating it. It has to be inspired rather than imposed. A great jazz performance offers some interesting insights into inspiring great performance in the workplace.Great performance, in both jazz and the workplace, is SMART. We play with this acronym in variety of ways at Jazzthink. The words we've come up with are Soulful, Mindful, Astute, Responsible, and Trusting. With respect to organizational performance, here's one of our improvisations on this set of ideas.

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