A while back, I explored the business blues in a light-hearted fashion. I was surprised and delighted at the reaction to this in my personal e-mails. It seems that somehow, I struck a chord (or perhaps three - musical in-joke for the blues players out there ! :-) ). I was told that a number of major companies have used music in a cathartic way to ‘purge their business demons’, by ‘getting it all out in their blues’. Take a listen to this clip from BBC Radio 4’s Flagship ‘Today’ Programme. Even John Humphries succumbed to my post in The Financial Times on the credit crunch blues:
To be more serious for a moment, here are some causes of ‘The Business Blues’ with antidotes. For more like read “The Music of Business”
1. Badly designed work and jobs – The antidote is simple to say but a little harder to apply. Basically, design jobs using the wisdom of Herzberg’s work on satisfiers and dissatisfiers. Take a look at the work of Hackman and Oldham. This is explored in more depth in Punk Rock People Management.
2. An over-focus on measurement and objectives – What get measured gets done. The corollary of this is that what is hard to measure may get ignored. Everyone needs objectives to keep focus, but I would rather have open heart surgery without an anaesthetic than have 7 pages of specific objectives, critical success factors and key deliverables as I have seen on some occasions. Appraisals and objectives are all about focus, not shopping lists that rival the length of ‘War and Peace’.
3. Poor leadership and management – It’s all too easy to then suggest that the antidote is to plug in some good leadership and management, almost like an I Phone app, yet this is a subject that requires more than a couple of lines to explore. Plug and play may work with memory sticks but it does not in the world of business leadership and management.
I’ll leave you with Jimi Hendrix and Prince playing the blues. These versions of Red House see Hendrix and Prince in rare moments of reflectivity. The playing is thoughtful and poignant. In my humble opinion, Prince is Hendrix plus much better lighting ! 🙂 – there is an obvious musical influence but Prince has vastly improved the presentational aspects of his work across 30 or so years. What do you think these two pieces? Post your thoughts on the blog comments page. To read previous posts on the genius of Prince see At The Hop (Farm) and Prince on Improvisation and Ingenuity. Coming up soon, a post on Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck with respect to innovation style.
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