There are many, many different kinds of music – e.g. rock, country and western just like there are many, many different sorts of companies – e.g. software companies, manufacturers etc.
And I’ll bet that everyone can think of at least one favourite tune.
So what has a favourite tune got to do with a business? Bear with me for a moment and I’ll tell you.
Let’s go back to music first. I’ll bet my favourite tunes won’t be the same as yours. Mine might be classical (or bagpipes) yours might be heavy metal or hard rock. So they won’t sound the same.
But the funny thing is, although they don’t sound the same they will have some things in common.
Such as what you might ask?
Well, with a few exceptions, they probably feature more than one musical instrument. Perhaps there’s someone singing, in fact there may be backup singers as well.
Our favourite tunes will also have a musical score and – where required – lyrics for the vocalists.
The score is a great thing. It not only tells the musician which instrument to play – and when – it also tells them how the instrument must be played. Pretty detailed action plan wouldn’t you say.
Lyrics are also essential for anything other than a pure instrumental. They tell the vocalists – lead and backup – what to sing and how to emphasize the words.
OK so where am I going with this?
Well, I was listening to one of my favourite tunes the other day and a few things occurred to me.
Although each piece of music is different, like companies in different industries, they do have things in common.
The instruments – guitar, drums, key board – are like the different parts of a company – sales, operations, finance. They can play by themselves but when they work together the result can be amazing.
The score is like the strategy – it determines how the band/orchestra will get to the final result. It tells every instrument/musician how to work together while giving them a plan in the form of the notes and chords to be played.
In the better bands, the individual members have input to the score. Sometimes the situation allows them to improvise (you could say the plan is flexible). In some situations improvisation – and even innovation – is required. Jazz springs to mind.
But no individual instrument or musician has a role (departmental plan) that is more important than the score (business strategy). Think of an orchestra for a moment. The musicians in each section – e.g. strings, wind and percussion – see their own part in the piece. But only the conductor has the full score.
And that brings me to my last couple of points.
Every band has a leader – lead guitarist, lead singer, band major – who keeps the focus on the score or lyrics. Rather like the role of the CEO or business owner. He or she doesn’t have to know how to play all of the instruments; the specialists are there for that.
Some bands or orchestras become more popular than others. And, while individual players/musicians may come and go, some bands perform for a long time – years, decades or longer. Innovating and working with new material but maintaining superior quality of output. Why – because the culture, amongst other things, fosters that type of environment.
Finally, the public – you and I – doesn’t pay for the score. We pay for the result – the sound, the music, how it makes us feel.
And that’s an important perspective (particularly for consultants). No one pays for the strategy, they pay for the results – and how the results make them feel.
So, what kind of music are you going to make in 2012?
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