Monday, January 17, 2011

Harmony at the Symphony

On Saturday, we were invited to the orchestra. It's not something that we usually do and we jumped at the chance.  The program was, in short, amazing.   This was it:

"The CSO welcomes French violinist Renaud Capuçon for a performance of Korngold's cinematic Violin Concerto. The concerto was launched into the standard repertoire after the legendary Jascha Heifetz premiered it in 1947. Spanish conductor Jaunjo Mena will make his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut, leading the CSO in Tchaikovsky's final, intensely passionate Pathétique Symphony."

From the first note of the first piece, to the hypnotic soloist and ending with the aptly described passionate Tchaikovky's Pathetique Symphony, we were transfixed and transported.  And you could tell everyone else was too.

We've all been to bad concerts.  We've all cringed when there was feedback...  if the singer was out of tune...  if the songs just sounded the same...  if it seemed like all of the musicians were just "phoning it in" so to speak...  if it seemed like the rest of the audience was disengaged.  And on and on...

The reasons why this concert was so great was due to the trust and harmony within the members of the orchestra, the trust and harmony the members of the orchestra had with the conductor, the trust and harmony the orchestra had with the soloist and the trust and harmony between the soloist and the conductor.  And it was the intersection of all of these harmonies that created the trust and harmony with the audience.  It felt seamless and actually, it kind of felt like magic.

Nothing in life is easy, as we all know, and after the magic wore off a bit post concert, I started to consider how much time, effort, sweat, frustration and elation went into the preparation of each piece to get it to its level of perfection.  This is let alone all of the time, effort, sweat, frustration and elation that went into becoming an excellent violinist, cellist, flautist, horn player, etc.  

And yet, no amount of musical genius can make up for a lack of trust and harmony.  If it isn't there, performances are flat and the audience is left wanting for more.  So, to get to harmony, though the violinists have an obvious functional role, their greater role is to the form.  And that's because the audience hears the form and not the individual functions sequentially.

So, yeah, this is a business blog so it's time for me to get to the point.  No amount of natural business skill can overcome a lack of strategy, business' version of trust and harmony, within an enterprise.  It matters not a jot if we're creative, smart, analytical, an operations genius, or read the latest business and/or social media manifesto if we don't take the time and effort to create an internal whole that's larger than the some of our parts.  

That is, if we don't take the time and effort to draft (and follow) a lock tight strategy that creates business trust and harmony within on the path to develop (and hopefully grow) trust and harmony with our customers.

There was this article in Advertising Age a little while ago and it was about the traits of highly effective CMOs (read the article - it was good).  I can appreciate why it was addressed to the CMO - it was Advertising Age, after all - but I thought then, as I do now, that these traits apply no matter the function and that perhaps if we stopped paying too much attention to function and instead looked to form to create symbioses and harmony, then we'd all be the better for it.

Some may say that internal business harmony, or form, is too esoteric or abstract.  When we don't get form right internally, it shows up in many different and expensive ways externally.  Case in point: Alaska Airlines diaper incident, United breaks guitars incident, Toyota's numerous recalls, numerous Groupon redemption horror stories (here), my musings on Starbucks (here) among many others.

So, how's your business harmony?  Or, does your business have a tin ear?

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

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