A Musician Shares Innovative Strategies with Business Leaders

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Creativity and Innovation

Creative thinking has consistently been among the top attributes sought by employers and it’s proven that creativity and innovation can bolster the success of organizations. How should the corporate world encourage these qualities in the workplace? Leaders know that new strategies are needed to gain competitive advantage and streamline work processes.

Creativity on its own is not enough. Innovative thinking produces value out of creative ideas so they can meet real-world demands. That’s why Grammy award-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre has been invited to speak at conferences aimed at the medical, administrative and corporate fields.

Cross-Disciplinary Skills

What can business leaders learn from a musician? Whitacre, a genius in his field, is also gifted in leveraging the creative potential of other people. His ground-breaking work in the collaborative musical formats of choral singing and orchestral music is a prime example of the transformation of creative thinking into real life desired outcomes. To accomplish this, he uses basic principles of innovative leadership that can be transferred across disciplines.

Whitacre’s Virtual Choir project, inspired by YouTube, brought together almost 200 singers from around the world to perform a beautiful choral arrangement in real time. A world-class musician, Whitacre took advice from strangers and listened to people’s ideas. He let the project evolve based on the collaboration of a broad group of people with different skill sets, including technology gurus. His trust in the process allowed him to live with uncertainty at the start of his ambitious venture.

Strategic Leaders Set the Stage

Whitacre is a role model for today’s business leaders because he defies the traditionally autocratic approach normally expected of conductors. “If music is well crafted,” he says, “singers know what to do with it.” Likewise, a strategic leader sets the stage in the workplace for the full engagement and productivity of a company’s most bountiful resource: people.

Everybody Has a Role

Creativity and the trans-formative power of innovation do not appear magically on the stage or in the workforce. Respect for individual members’ strengths, a sense of camaraderie and an open working environment where people can share ideas are all necessary. At the same time, a strategic leader has fully communicated the mission and vision of the organization to employees and lets them know that everybody has a role in the fulfillment of organizational goals.

This material is a summary of a chapter from Orchestrating Sustainable Innovation: A Symphony in Sound Bites co-authored by Megan Mitchell, a lead instructor in the Masters Certificate in Innovation Leadership program (starting April 29, 2019). The program is designed to help managers and leaders create systematic innovation to consistently develop and implement better solutions.

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