Polyrhythms of organizational improvisation

Using Jazz music as a platform for conversations about organizational improvisation has the power to bring about a fusion in “ways of knowing.”

In much the same way that the polyrhythm combines two rhythmic entities sustaining the integrity of each identity while forming a new entity of richer complexity and possibility, the jazz ensemble engages its process in a similar fashion.

At the level of the individual there is a constant shift of awareness between intellectual understanding and somatic understanding resulting in the integration of both states. This fusion creates a third way of knowing that allows for response to change that is not limited to the boundaries of our “intellectual constructs.” We are able to tap into the deeper knowing of our somatic experience as well.

In the collaborative context of the jazz ensemble this discipline allows individuals to transition spontaneously between the role of leadership of the soloist as they probe and search for new ideas and develop existing possibilities and the role of “comping”- supporting the soloist and creating a context for the soloist to develop their ideas.

As in the jazz ensemble the effectiveness of organizational leadership is deeply interconnected with the context in which it exists. Leadership in both worlds is most effective when it understands the synergy between leading, implementing leadership and supporting the very foundation upon which that leadership is based.

The dynamics of jazz provide a platform for conversations that uncover these possibilities.

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