Improvisation and the art of change

At a Total Place event today we were reminded “the revolution will be improvised”.

A catchy meme for sure which reminded me of an article I’ve read some time ago by Frank J Barrett.   He makes the point that there are lots of misconceptions about improvisation in music –  that jazz players are ‘inarticulate. untutored geniuses, that they have no idea what they are playing as if picking notes out of thin air,’   when actually ‘the art of jazz playing is very complex and the result of a relentless pursuit of learning and disciplined imagination.’ 

Here’s the abstract and a link for those of you curious about how to co-produce coherent social innovation and change.

After discussing the nature of improvisation and the unique challenges and dangers implicit in the learning task that jazz improvisers create for themselves, the author broadly outlines seven characteristics that allow jazz bands to improvise coherently and maximize social innovation in a coordinated fashion.  He also draws on his own experience as a jazz pianist. Finally, implications for organizational design and managing for learning are suggested.

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