Yes to the Mess
A review of

Yes to the Mess

Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz

Free Like Jazz

by David Meyer

Jazz musician and professor of management and global public policy Frank J. Barrett, PhD offers a valentine to jazz that guides leaders to embrace improvisation.

Frank J. Barrett, PhD, professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, is an accomplished jazz musician. He makes a compelling and original case that organizations can learn from improvisational jazz in terms of embracing collaborative experimentation and discovery. Jazz bands improvise without rigid leadership by any one musician, he explains, and players maintain positive expectations, despite mistakes.

Barrett warns that control suppresses creativity and that today’s fast-paced change undermines planning. Therefore, he says, firms can gain from the example of jazz. Improvisational leaders say “yes to the mess” by encouraging collaboration and seizing opportunities.

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