Miles Davis had a lot to teach to today’s managers. According to Frank J. Barrett, jazz musician and management scholar, improvisation, that becomes art in jazz, has become fundamental for today’s business.
In his book “Yes to the mess”, Barrett highlights how improvisation needs to have the necessary room within organisations. Creating a common groove allows to respond promptly to the best ideas, working in group while creating on the spot.
This is what Miles Davis did when he recorded on the spot one of his most famous quintets, giving musicians sheets to read in studio. That was a recording in which everyone got inspiration from others to create something that stemmed from common creativity.
Unlearning routines and acting on the spot makes it possible to everyone to discover everything simultaneously, learning to enjoy uncertainty. Without fears, but working on it for one’s advantage.
However, a good jazz improvisation requires some mistakes. Useful mistakes, to learn from not to make them again in the future, in what Barrett names “the aesthetic of forgiveness”, which takes steps from Miles Davis’quote: If you don’t make a mistake, it’s a mistake.
Today’s management, in a time in which adaptability and flexibility are increasingly required, needs a structured improvisation, framed in an agile corporate setting, in which leaders – like jazz musicians – know the art of improvisation, unlearning routine and experimenting simultaneously, supporting one another.
“Learning to unlearn”, when creativity needs to go faster than fixed procedures.