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Not Your Father’s Music

December 10, 2015

It’s often more a chore rather than a delight. If it was entertaining they’d charge money for it. Like a trip to the dentist, just try to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

High school music concerts.

We’ve all been there. You drag the family along, get a picture of your kid with their instrument, hum along to the old favorites, and try to smile through that clarinet player that just can’t quite hit that high E. 

Except it wasn’t. If you want different results, you have to change your approach. 

What are the tedious parts of your job? Or worse, the tedious parts of other people’s jobs that you have to sit through. I used to work for a company where several IT teams were grouped under a single manager. As team leads we had to attend a weekly meeting. An important part of the meeting was a “round-robin” discussion where we would each take a few minutes to talk about our team. There were six different teams; storage, email, SharePoint, identity management, networking, databases. We each took 5 minutes or so to discuss our unique issues. 

Think about that. 30 minutes of listening to another manager talk about issues unique to his team. It was brutal. My manager was very interested in all six reports. I was interested in one of them, and bored during the other five. As the manager over the email team, I was not at all interested in the status of the SQL to Oracle database migration. The database guy was equally uninterested in my team’s efforts to automate the updating of the Global Address List to pull updated information from our HR system.

My manager didn’t get it.

Why aren’t you guys more excited to learn what each other is doing? 

Mark, the storage team manager couldn’t even begin to explain the appropriate terms in his 5 minutes. It’s important to you, but it’s a waste of time for the rest of us.

Like a trip to the dentist, try to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

So Mark changed his format. He ditched the round-robin stuff and focused on sharing information that related to everyone, like new policy changes. His meetings became much more valuable, if not exactly entertaining. 

I attended a high school concert last night. There were twenty-one groups performing. I know what you are thinking, “That’s two hours of my life I’m never getting back.” But, it wasn’t. It was kept to exactly an hour and it was refreshing and innovative. And it was because the conductors (one for orchestras, one for bands and one for choirs) changed the typical high school concert format. 

First it was a collage concert. The audience was asked to hold applause until the end. The conductors went directly from one group to another. The transitions were shorter than the gaps between songs on a CD. We went from listening to Chamber Orchestra playing “I Wonder as I Wander” directly into a piano solo of “The Christmas Song” and then immediately to the Sinfonia group playing “Rest Ye Merry, Rock Ye Merry.” And it was those quick cuts from one group to the next that sparked the second and more innovative change. The conductors literally used the entire auditorium. 

The Chamber Orchastra was broken up into four parts and they were located around the concert hall. The conductor, Mr David Beck, walked the aisle as he conducted. 

Here Mr Beck conducts kids both in front of him and behind him at the same time. He’s signaling to this group in the back corner.

The opposite back corner had a group of musicians as well. 

And completing the concert in the round was the piano accompaniest. 

Dolby surround sound should sound so good. 

The point is that The conductors were willing to break out of the traditional “high school concert” format. And when they did, they presented a concert that was refreshingly unique. Audeince members had their heads on a swivel to keep up with the various groups and musicians. 

Just be cause you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that you have to continue doing it that way. Let your inner conductor break free and look for new ways to present the same information. Your audience, I mean team members, will thank you. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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