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Learning from Jazz

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What happens when you plunk an award-winning jazz musician and his ensemble into a boardroom packed with corporate managers and directors? For companies such as IBM, McGraw-Hill and Starbucks, the musician provided much-needed creative teambuilding for the executives. Michael Gold, a jazz bassist and owner of Jazz Impact, helps companies learn from the management and teamwork structures of jazz ensembles. Gold bases customized training sessions on the acronym from Autonomy, Passion, Risk, Innovation, Listening—elements he said are essential in the worlds of both music and business. "Risk is a very big factor in jazz," Gold said. "The kind of risk we're taking involves an expansion of what we already know." He said he relies on his experiences of performing jazz for more than two decades and working in management at a financial services company to teach businesses about innovation and improvisation in a compelling way. In 1999, a friend asked Gold's ensemble to perform at a meeting of executives looking to expand globally. "They flipped out," he said, and he decided to start his own business. Gold stresses that decision-makers need to consider the whole group, build a relationship between leadership and support, and be willing to listen to new or difficult things that are initially hard to understand.
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