The Art of Listening

I met Dame Evelyn Glennie recently at an event I was invited to at The Bank of England. A remarkable dialogue took place about the gentle art and discipline of listening, expertly organised by Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at BoE.

Evelyn Glennie has been deaf since her teenage years, yet she developed as a percussionist and ‘feels’ sound through her body.  She opened the 2012 Olympics using the Aluphone:

Why then would The Bank of England have someone from such a different world come to address an invited audience?

Glennie talked passionately about the art of listening. All businesses could improve their abilities in this area, especially as the speed / rhythm of business continues to increase and that decreases the spaces for meaningful conversation. I have experienced this at first hand through my work with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee member at the Bank of England, himself a musician, and via 25 years of consulting with a huge range of businesses and organisations.

Much business conversation is really discussion, based on the root form of percussion or “to beat around”.  Whereas physicist David Bohm talks of the need for dialogue, where there is a genuine enquiry.  Complex business issues demand dialogue more than discussion and yet most businesses are time limited so issues tend to be beaten around rather than relying on more skilful inquiry.  I call such issues “wicked problems” and they require high level listening, collaboration and complex problem solving skills.

Music, simply stated, is applied physics. Banks run on mathematics and science but the gap between music and mathematics is mostly an imaginary one, installed at an early age when we are judged to be more arty or scientific. At the highest levels art and science are often indistinguishable. Our job as leaders is to “improve the signal : noise ratio” in business.  This of course can be done badly by shutting down conversation or improving our abilities to hear … this, itself opens up a much wider dialogue …

Thus business could learn a thing or two from music and vice versa.  Hats off to The Bank of England for hosting such an engaging event as part of their outreach series.  Here’s a TED talk from Evelyn Glennie, where she elucidates further on the gentle art of listening:

***********************************************************************************************

Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Speaking and Conference facilitation and Human Dynamics – Business and Organisation Development. Check his books out on Amazon:

Transferable lessons for business from music

Advertisements

SKETCHNOTE BLUE

Simon Heath’s work in corporate graphic illustration – an absolute joy. Contact him for your next conference at sjheath@live.co.uk, or for a full assault on your synapses, hire Simon and myself for some “Art, Business and Rock’n’Roll” at your next conference.  Our next booking is in New York with a Pharmaceutical Company for an innovation summit.

The Heart and Soul of OD – An interview with Fuchsia Blue

Fuchsia Blue

The other week, I was privileged to interview Julie Drybrough of Fuchsia Blue.  I am absolutely made up with the work of Simon Heath who sketchnoted the film in his blog at SKETCHNOTE BLUE.  Simon may be contacted at sjheath@live.co.uk for his incredible work.

The dialogue was wide ranging and we learned the following things from this:

About Organisation Development

Boards are often unaware of the habitual patterns of communication.  Julie employs a range of Organisation Development practices to help boards make the most of their time together, such as process observation and feedback.  The Organisation Development Matrix that I have found to be of great use over time is shown below:

The OD Matrix

The OD Matrix

About Dialogue

Dialogue differs from discussion, in so far as it is a much deeper form of conversation that leads to much better results.  It turns out that we have both travelled similar roads around the work of Physicist David Böhm and Peter Senge.  If you want to have more productive conversations about important things, a study and practice of dialogue is essential.

About Emotional Intelligence

Julie differentiates the idea of being human at work from ‘human resources’.  If human beings are our greatest asset, we make a big mistake by treating them as human resources.  This requires leaders to possess and demonstrate emotional intelligence, having mastery of themselves and being aware of their own impact on others.  More on this aspect at Emotional Intelligence.

Julie may be found on Twitter at @fuchsia_blue  and works predominantly in the public sector on Organisational Development Strategies and Practices.  I’m looking forward to finding an opportunity to work collaboratively on dialogue using music in the future.  Let us know if you wish to advance this proposition.  Since Julie hails from Scotland, we must mark the occasion with some music from that Big Country:

******************************************

About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk