THE MUSIC AND ENTERPRISE METAPHOR
Franco Marzo - smart management Coaching business development
What is it? Action and flow!
The final act, the concert, the performance, is also a new beginning, the moment when a song becomes reality, and is enjoyed by the audience. During the performance things change and become something else. The concert represents the present, there is no room for past or future. The time spent in preparation, planning and programming seem so distant now. The scores are already on the music stand and, except for jazz music, which deserves a dedicated space on its own, cannot be changed. The orchestra plays for the audience without thinking about the applause at the end of the performance, and a final analysis will be made at the end, a live performance is all about "here and now", a unique combination of time and place to be taken advantage of. Pure action, no time to think, totally focused on the task ahead. Experts have studied some athletes’ "great performances", their records and great victories. In technical jargon this is called, flow.
Well, among the various ingredients of this flow we find:
- Action and awareness: I know what I’m doing at all times;
- Absorbed on the task: no room for other thoughts;
- Loss of time dimension: unaware of the time passing ;
- Absence of self-awareness: I don’t consider myself and I don’t fear the opinions of those around me;
- Sense of control: Total control of my body, I become one with my instrument;
- An autotelic experience: I’m having fun, everything comes easy, just pleasure, no end no purpose.
However, a great performance stems from the best possible conditions. Among the essential factors in a great performance three stand out:
- Clear goals! The performer must know perfectly well the "score", the nature and purpose of the task!
- Perfect balance between complexity and skill! Excessive complexities lead to stress and anxiety, not enough of it to boredom; employees should not be asked either too much or too little, and remember that we are "condemned to grow", because every goal we achieve increases our skills and reduces the complexities, even leaving a small space for boredom!
- Immediate and clear feedback! Great concerts are always accompanied by an unmistakable response throughout the performance. In music, with the audience standing before you, the situation is ideal, the applause shows an immediate and explicit participation. But musicians are not satisfied, and when they can, they listen to themselves through headphones or monitors.
Each performance involves the use of a tool as well as the mind. If I have to assess a risk, design a house or sell a car, I will have tools that are more or less complex. The know-how in using such tools, then, will become an integral part of the performance. Mastering an instrument, or “sense of control”, enhances the quality of what is being played. The potential of the tools available are almost always greater compared to the use we make of them, regardless of them being computer programs, lathes, milling machines or violins. In the ability to harness a tool’s potential lies much of the quality of a performer's skill. During an excellent performance the instrument becomes an extension of the artist’s body, but for this to happen it is absolutely necessary to know and master it perfectly. Take the time to deepen the knowledge about your instruments, you'll learn to use them but also to respect them. Each of them is a miracle of ingenuity, love, curiosity, beauty and technology. Just think if you were to invent the tools that you sometimes carelessly use?
What is a performance: live production and delivery!
Play the music as written on the music score, that set of sounds that defines the overall performance of the orchestra. A live concert is the ultimate goal of those who make music, everything else doesn’t matter. In an orchestra, as in many companies, each of us plays but a small part, but the contribution that each individual part makes is very important. As a musical metaphor, I always refer to live music because that's where you see the difference between good and improvised musicians, between great orchestras and a marching band. In live music, "goods" are delivered directly, while being produced, without a safety net, right in front of the audience, no room for mistakes and flaws then, and it is also why it takes great skills and competence by all the musicians involved. Music is the only complex product that is “created” in front of an audience of hundreds or thousands of people. If you go to Murano, a few artisans may actually blow glass live for you. Even if the performance is perfect, it’s the result of a single effort. An orchestra may have 40, 60 or 80 musicians at once. Throughout the performance the concert is live, wrong notes cannot be changed or “fixed”, they remain forever, and if someone makes a mistake, it is the whole orchestra that is wrong! There is a perfect identity between each individual and the group.
Performing live in front of a wide audience involves honors and obligations. Obligations are certain and come from the necessary preparation, study and rehearsals, while the honors are rather uncertain and depend on the approval of the spectators. Needless to say, a good performance will do much in attracting and retaining fans. Someone might object that also what is being played is important not just how. Actually, a great performance is capable of enhancing any song even the simplest and most common. The same thing happens in the working place, even the simplest and apparently silly task can be performed in a fascinating way. Think of a waiter in a restaurant, his task is to take orders and serve the dishes, but how many different ways of doing it have you seen in your life? There are waiters who are a great asset for the restaurant they work in, thanks to their energy, positive attitude and qualities. In the US, a friend told me, a good waiter can earn as much as 80-100 thousand dollars a year. In my workshops, I use the metaphor of the triangle. Whoever plays this tiny instrument is a professor who has studied percussions for at least 10 years! That “ding” is rarely heard, yet it can make a difference, try it. Also those who play the “triangle” in a company deserve great respect. Even seemingly menial jobs contain energy, positivity, and just because no one expects great things from them, they can surprise and make a difference. In the next chapter we’ll discuss the “good morning” you say every day when you welcome someone or are welcomed by a receptionist. Well, I can guarantee you that from the quality of that “good morning” you can figure out how the whole orchestra will play!
How to perform?
A performance can be scholastic, “by the book” or a great “interpretation”. “Maestro” Barenboin believes that a good technical execution represents only 65% of the value of a work and a good performance is not enough to trigger the applause. The public, except when it’s a première, already knows the music, and is not interested in hearing it again for the umpteenth time. They want to feel emotions. I believe that the principle applies to any "performance", from the receptionist’s greeting to building a house. The difference, the remaining 35% of the value, is linked to the interpretation, the major lesson that music can offer when it comes to performing. The interpreter / performer acts as an intermediary of the pretium, the price, the true value of the work, the difference between success and failure. It is interesting to know that in ancient Greece the interpreter was the one who was asked to intercede with the Gods. Although “inspired”, it is clear that in the end the interpreter had to use his own “talent". Interpreting means precisely putting your own personality and talent, careful though, we're not talking about jazz, interpreting does not mean improvising or “do whatever you feel”, but putting heart and soul, love, intelligence and careful attention. There is the music score. Try to think of a task as simple as saying “good morning." There are thousands of ways to do it, try to imagine a few and you'll understand what I mean. Try to pronounce it carelessly, or with enthusiasm; with a chewing gum in your mouth or with a smile; sarcastically or hospitably. A good morning can warm up your heart of freeze it. One of the most important lessons I’ve received during my managerial training course in Volvo dealt with how important it is to greet the colleagues every morning. I was very young and eager to learn, so I carefully did everything I was taught. Well it changed my life, facilitating the creation of good relationships with co-workers, colleagues and bosses! Interpreting means to perform a task adding your own unique value. No one will say Good Morning the way you do, and this will make a difference in the success or failure of your venture!
Let the concert begin!
This article concludes a series of eight on the music and enterprise metaphor. We spoke about rhythm, melody, harmony, tone, listening, composing, music score and performance. I’d like to thank Pneurama, for having given me such space in its pages, as well as all those who enjoyed reading these articles. If you manage or simply play your instrument in a “corporate orchestra” and you are interested in deepening your understanding about “corporate music” you can visit the following websites www.smartmanagement.it, or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me at 347 23 44 109. Keep up the good work!