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It Takes a Team to Play a Symphony

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

I’m often asked ‘how do you know what you know?’ I think folks are largely looking for a nice label ‘I have a doctorate in x’ ‘or ‘I did my MBA at Z’. Except I don’t have a PhD, a degree or even A levels. My response is normally ‘I’ve just been paying close attention to life for a very long time’. 

Nigel Kennedy (the violinist) reminded me yesterday of one of my ‘paying attention’ lessons. He was on the BBC doing his thing with an orchestra and I saw what I learned many years ago; each of the sections must work together to make the music. Or, in other words – COLLABORATION.

I played the flute in orchestras all the way through school. I LOVED it and learned something that has shaped and fed into so much of what I do. An orchestra, for me, is the absolute blueprint of team. You see, whilst of course you are looking at the person leading, and also thinking of what you’re doing, there is something even more vital. 

You have to pay attention and work with what the other musicians are doing. Not just the brass section or the percussion, ALL of it. When you’re in an orchestra team, it’s not about you; it’s about the whole.

They say that the beliefs you create when you are young are the ones you operate from as an adult. When I was young, whilst playing in orchestras I learned about the joy that can be created when humans artfully work together to make music. I have fed this experience and knowledge into how I help organisations understand and embed collaboration. 

Whether it’s in team or cross-organisationally, collaboration is where it is at for me.

If you work together well, music can be made.

"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes and orchestra to play it." (H.E. Luccock)

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