What businesses can learn from Jazz musicians (and no, it has nothing to do with improvisation)

Or at least not directly, because improvisation is a big part of jazz. But let me tell you a little story to clarify where I’m getting at.

A few weeks ago, we were recording a tune for this new band we formed called In Fabula. We defenitely have roots in jazz music, but we like to twist it and incorporate a lot of different sounds and grooves from other genres so it’s called probably a form of Fusion Jazz.

In the studio

Because of the big part improvisation takes, we recorded it live in the studio. That means, if somebody makes a mistake — and when you are playing tunes longer then 7 minutes with factors that are impossible to predetermine how they will work out, like improvisation for example— you will have to live with it for the rest of your live… Well, sounds pretty frightening doesn’t it?

We played a few takes (about 4 I think) and like you can imagine, all the tracks had some flaws or unwanted happenings in the music.

Which one to choose?

That is where it gets tricky because the chances that everybody is happy with the same take in a band with these two Italians, one ItaloBel, one Belgian and one Dutchman, are as big as a water bear (yes, go and check what it is).

This means there will always be negotating about which take to take (pun intented). This also means you have to put your own ego to the side and all look for the best overall take (which is pretty damn difficult, because like you know, you can say and honestly think that you aren’t biased, but anyway you will be biased).

Producer?

It is difficult to choose the best option, mainly because we are always to much involved to keep a nice overview. That’s of course what producers are for, to make those decisions for the band, but it also means that you give your vision on the product out of your own hands, and it costs a lot of money for a begining band. So in the end, you will be paying for the abortion of your right to have a voice in the decision. Also not a great solution.

The ultimate compromise

I’m glad to say that everybody in this band is as flexible as it gets. Everybody is free to say his opinion and in the end they all put their ego to the side so we came to an relatively easy agreement on which take we would be going to use.

We ended up choosing the last take — which was not my favorite take, so that means that my best take (I was on fire on that one!) in best case scenario will end up in the recording engineer his computer in an almost impossible to find folder and will never see daylight again, or more probably it is already deleted… — and went on making it into a full video clip to be published on Youtube.

If you are interested, you can watch it by clicking on here (and yes, you could try and figure out what little spots I’m not that happy about, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you whether you are correct).

Businesses could also think like a jazz band. Everybody is a part of the whole, so that means thinking about what is the overall result above “does it make me shine” will make it function like a well oiled machine. Being stubborn rarely helps, although people might consider it determination. The quality of being determined can easily slip into being stubborn, your strenght could turn out to be your weakness and visa versa.

The bottom line

Everybody is biased. Period.

That’s not an immense problem, as long as you know you are biased (although studies found out that even if you think you aren’t biased on for example race, society and culture ensure that you will inevitably be so on an unconsious level). Everybody takes decisions based on his own perspective on things. But that doesn’t mean it is always in line with the whole.

Flexibility is underestimated. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion! Not at all, but it means you can hear other peoples arguments too and consider them in an as objective way as possible.

Try to see the whole picture, although it is a hard thing to do, because remember, you are always biased.

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