I was really happy when my Editor at USA Today gave the me the opportunity to review Frank J. Barrett’s new book “Yes To the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons From Jazz”. (Click here to read review).
That’s because I’m not only a jazz fan and singer; but also because I programmed music for businesses and homes worldwide for more than 10 years, when I worked for AEI Music/DMX in Seattle.
Through classic jazz at Talbot’s, Smooth Jazz at Hilton Garden Inn, Bossa Nova at World Market, and electronica-laced Acid Jazz at Polo Ralph Lauren; the colorful palette of jazz, and jazz-hybrid styles helped me paint unique and compelling audio brand images for my clients.
Programming music for business also taught me how working for a company that adopts the collaborative and improvisational jazz mindset, can lead to increased creativity, innovation, and harmony in the workplace.
So, when I read “Yes To The Mess”, I had the most amazing “ah-ha!” moment. What Frank Barrett outlines in his book, is exactly what I experienced in real life at AEI/DMX.
I was lucky to have bosses who would collaborate instead of dictate, to have co-workers who would share, instead of compete, and to work in an atmosphere that encouraged individual creativity instead of corporate conformity. This collaborative, improvisational, and jazz-like approach, helped us create unique and compelling signature sounds for our customers.
But, it wasn’t all collegial bliss and Kumbaya. Sometimes there were rather vigorous disagreements, snarky comments, and system meltdowns. Sometimes, it seemed to be completely out of control; exactly the kind of creative “mess” that Barrett explores in his book.