Founded in 1999 by jazz bassist and educator, Michael Gold, Jazz Impact has produced powerfully engaging conference keynotes all over the world. As a thought leader in the field of arts-based executive education, Michael developed Jazz Impact based on the theories of Positive Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry.
Our programs reflect the latest research showing that the arts transform and enhance traditional theories of organizational leadership, team-work, sustainability, and creative strategies. The core of each program is based on the acronym "APRIL," which represents a set of dynamics critical to success in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.
The Five Dynamics of Jazz: Autonomy, Passion, Risk, Innovation & Listening
True autonomy depends on the equity of each party concerned. Leadership is no longer a static position but one that is dependent on the ability to respond to changing needs and to delegate to others based on their areas of expertise. In the jazz ensemble the constant transition between leading and support strengthens and expands the capabilities of both the individual and the team.
Autonomy in jazz is inclusive in nature. Leading, implementing leadership and supporting the foundation on which leadership is based are functions that transcend traditional job descriptions. True autonomy means the organizational ability to balance the need for structure with the need for flexibility- to consistently blend individual intention and behavior with group intention and behavior. This dynamic has been at the core of jazz since the beginning of the 20th century.
Jazz is a culture of authenticity. When we believe what we are doing is important and has purpose larger than ourselves, our passion energizes the people we work with. All too often, businesses attempt to instill passion through external triggers that repress authentic experience rather than recognize, nurture and honor it. The passion of emotional commitment comes from within and is supported by a belief in the integrity of what we do.
When people feel a deep passion for what the do everyday it quickly generates a sense of purpose. And when people feel a sense of purpose, that reinvigorates passion. The passion of emotional commitment is a sustainable energy source within every member of an organization.
Progress is impossible without a willingness to take chances. Risk is not an option in jazz or for any company that wants to be solvent ten years from now. In jazz we mitigate the risk of change by extracting the core values from successful past initiatives and using them to reinvent ourselves in constantly changing contexts.
In the jazz ensemble we are constantly faced with the risk of innovation, of having to come up with our own musical ideas in real time and in collaboration with each other. So how do you get people to do that? We all work within a zone of improvisational freedom where trust and accountability are critical factors. Jazz is a process in which ideas are the most valuable capital we possess. While it may sound like a paradox, risk in jazz is best mitigated through the release of ideas rather than the control of ideas.
Innovation is not a “what,” but a “how.” It is the result of fusing the strengths of our past experience with exploration of new possibility. In jazz, innovation implies a creative partnership between the “leadership” of the soloist and the “support” of the rhythm section. The rhythm section provides a foundation of support for the exploration of the soloist. The discoveries of the soloist expand and strengthen that foundation in a continual cycle of innovative growth. It is a process that delivers both support and safety and rejects stasis and complacency.
Listening in the moment— suspending assumption and expectation— is critical for engaging the uncertainty of change. When we truly listen we allow ourselves to hear the dissonance and friction that new ideas can often generate. To listen in the moment means to listen empathically— to suspend assumptions and judgments that are rooted in our past experience so we can hear what we don’t yet understand.