Friday, March 25, 2011

Creating Harmony in Your Business (The Music Paradigm)

My Music Paradigm Experience with the Richmond Symphony
Bobbie Barajas
Music Director,
WCVE Public Radio

I have attended concerts by and have “conducted” (Celebrity Maestro) the Richmond Symphony.  I have hosted live broadcasts by my favorite orchestra.  I’m happy to say I’ve even become personal friends with members of the orchestra and its staff.  My last symphony wish was to one day sit within the body of the orchestra as they played.  On March 22, 2011, my wish came true when I experienced The Music Paradigm with the Richmond Symphony. 

What is The Music Paradigm? In a nutshell, it proves what I have always believed; that there are lessons to be learned through music and music makers and that these lessons can be applied to every aspect of our lives including our careers.  Conductor Roger Nierenberg, the creator of The Music Paradigm, recognized this too and created a program to help businesses learn to “play” as sweetly as any talented orchestra.  The analogies between orchestra and conductor to business staff and managers are tremendous and obvious to all who attended, whether musically inclined or not.   

Here’s how it worked.  Attendees were invited to sit in designated chairs spread throughout the body of the orchestra.  We weren’t sitting along the perimeter of the orchestra; we sat elbow to elbow with musicians.  From this vantage point, we could appreciate the skill of the individual.  At the encouragement of Maestro Nierenberg, one noticed the skill of each section.  You could see the non-verbal communication that takes place between players.  It became apparent to the eye and ear that each section took turns supporting the other when the whole of the orchestra made way, for example, for the flutist to take her solo.  Most of all, you began to realize that although playing very different parts, the individuality of the players came together in perfect harmony to create the kinds of sounds that can transform the soul.  Once you snapped out of the musical trance, you couldn’t help but think of your office.  Do we communicate well?  Do we reference our managers?  Do we support each other and our fellow departments allowing them to shine?  Is the work we do as a team transformative to our companies and to the communities we serve? 

Standing on the podium leading both orchestra and audience was Roger Nierenberg, who demonstrated different management styles through his craft as a conductor.  We all spotted the micro-manager in an instant when Nierenberg conducted each and every beat while exaggerating every accent played by every single player.  Annoying!  The lackadaisical “there-in-body-only” manager made an appearance and was quickly recognized.  Members of the orchestra were asked to comment on the various styles of conducting (managing) and the response to this style was “I just started to ignore you and think about lunch.”  It’s easy to laugh about a comment like that in this situation but then you remember why you’re there and wonder “how many of my employees have been thinking about lunch because I wasn’t truly present in a meeting?”  Not so funny anymore. 

The biggest lesson for me was that a leader should be able to provide their staff with a clear vision of where the team is going, providing guidance when necessary, but otherwise, trusting the team to do the job they were hired to do.  In theory, we all know this but when you see it come to life through The Music Paradigm, it’s a whole new ball game. 

Other blog posts of interest on The Music Paradigm experience:
John Bryan, President, CultureWorks

Olga Molnar, Research Manager, Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc.

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