An ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar

Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz

What can Duke Ellington and Miles Davis teach us about leadership? How do you cope when faced with complexity and constant change at work? Here’s what the world’s best leaders and teams do: they improvise. 

Frank Barrett, an accomplished jazz musician, professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School, and author of Yes to the Mess, will talk about how great leaders, like great jazz improvisers, adopt the following eight practices:

  • Master the art of unlearning
  • Say yes to the mess: develop affirmative competence
  • Perform and experiment simultaneously
  • Minimal structure and maximal autonomy: balancing freedom and constraints
  • Jamming and hanging out: learning by doing and talking
  • Taking turns soloing and supporting: followership as a noble calling
  • Provocative competence: nurturing double vision
  • Hitting a groove

Please join this webinar on collaboration and complexity against the soulful backdrop of jazz to learn:

  • How the principles of jazz thinking and jazz performance can help anyone who leads teams or works with them, wherever they sit in the organization, develop these critical skills. 
  • To take an innovative approach to create cultures that enhance discovery.
  • How organizations thrive in a drastically changing world predicated on uncertainty.
  • How leaders can organize so that it’s possible for people to be at their best.

Gloria Burgess, founder and president and CEO of Jazz International, an inspirational leadership development professional with expertise in fusing leadership, corporate and academic, with music, performance, and human potential will moderate the discussion.

Three ILA members who attend the webinar will be randomly selected to receive a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.

Speaker Information

Headshot of Gloria Burgess

Gloria Burgess, founder and president and CEO of Jazz International, an inspirational leadership development professional with expertise in fusing leadership, corporate and academic, with music, performance, and human potential will moderate the discussion.

Headshot of Frank Barrett

Frank Barrett, Ph.D., is Professor of Management and Global Public Policy in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. From 2008-2010 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Business School and also the Harvard Program on Negotiations. He held the Boer and Croon Chair of Change Management at Tilburg University (Netherlands) and has served on the faculties of  Katholieke University of Leuven in Belgium, Penn State University Behrend College, Case Western Reserve University, Fielding Graduate University, and Benedictine University.  

He received his BA in Government and International Relations from the University of Notre Dame, his MA in English from the University of Notre Dame, and his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University. 

Frank has consulted to various organizations including Harvard University, Boeing, U. S. Navy, Ford Motor Manufacturing Division, Ford Motor Information Strategy Group, Bell South, Granite Construction, GlaxxoWelcom, General Electric, British Petroleum, Nokia, Johnson and Johnson, Price Waterhouse Coopers, BBC, The Council of Great Lakes Governors, Omni Hotels, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and University Hospitals of Cleveland.  

He has written and lectured widely on social constructionism, appreciative inquiry, organizational change, jazz improvisation and organizational learning. He is the author of Yes to the Mess:  Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). He is co-author, with Ron Fry, of Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Approach to Building Cooperative Capacity. He has published articles on metaphor, masculinity, improvisation, organizational change and organizational development in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; Human Relations; Organization Science, and Organizational Dynamics as well as numerous book chapters. He wrote “Generative Metaphor Intervention: A New Approach to Intergroup Conflict” (with David Cooperrider) which won the award for best paper from the Organizational Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management in 1988. He won the best paper award again in 2003 for “Planning on Spontaneity: Lessons from Jazz for a Democratic Theory of Change,” a paper he co-authored with Mary Jo Hatch. He is co-editor of Appreciative Inquiry and Organizational Transformation (Vermont: Greenwood Books, 2001). 

Frank is also an active jazz pianist. In addition to leading his own trios and quartets, he has traveled extensively in the United States, England, and Mexico with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. 

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