Contriving intelligent strategies, optimizing structures, perfecting processes and control mechanisms are not sufficient any more in our globalized and rapidly changing world. Those organizations will develop which are open and flexible and focus on people.

If I ask the participants of my Jazz it! workshops after a groove exercise when they last experienced »groove« in their job, I get moving replies. For one person, it was when team members took the initiative and helped out in a critical situation. For others, it was the energy of their team at the turning point of a transformation project. Or it occurred at a meeting of executives when a common spirit could be felt.

All of these depictions have one thing in common: A special, even touching energy and a great feeling of cooperation. To sense groove in an organization, it needs flow as well as rhythm: Flow describes a quality of cooperation in which the people involved are completely absorbed. Rhythm (pulsing, timing) provides the required »stream bed« for flow. In excellent jazz bands, the music and the ensemble are grooving. The musicians are together in rhythm and flow.

Where groove is present, motivation, achievement potential and performance of people abound and thus the preconditions for sustained growth are favorable. What can organizations do that it becomes a permanent companion?

The New Normal

Permanent change is the (continually new) normality in the world of organizations. How to handle it, will be increasingly decisive. Traditional management concepts are not effective any more. The ability of adapting quickly to changes or driving them ahead, continuous innovating and learning is required. The strength to do this must be derived from your own center, from your own people. Their potential is to be promoted in an optimum fashion. This means giving people more (co-)invention, (co-)designing and (self-)fulfilment opportunities – the expectations of Generation Y are only a start in this respect. Organizations endeavoring to fulfil this build on values and principles. In this way, they achieve the required flexibility and create the needed space for development.

Strategic improvisation is the way

Strategic improvisation is based on principles and values from the improvisation in art which are used as a strategic concept in the context of organizations. Strategy is thus reinterpreted as the interaction between vision and opportunities, strategic planning is complemented by the dimension of recognition and benefit of opportunities. The strategic improvisation with Jazz principles and values (see diagram) is particularly well suited to handling the new normality. And: It promotes groove! If the strategic improvisation is implemented in organizations,

  • the focus is, inter alia, on opportunities,
  • a constructive error culture is lived and exemplified,
  • structures are simplified and creative freedom is generated,
  • the open exchange of ideas and fast interdisciplinary communication are stimulated and
  • associates have regularly the opportunity of assuming leadership tasks.

This results in enhanced change, learning, innovation and performance capabilities. The implementation requires targeted application and exercise of the principles »on the job«. In this respect, executives have a special role model and support function. The Jazz it! program will help you to make strategic improvisation and groove an experience in your organization and to keep it alive.