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Ken Keller: Everyone has to contribute to make beautiful music

Brain Food For Business Owners

Posted: March 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The goal of every organization is to provide something to the client that can be used at a price and quality that works for both sides. 

A business is no different than an orchestra that comes together to make music before an audience. No one wants to hear or pay for an awful noise.

Here is an outline of what it takes for a group of people to come together to achieve a goal. This is for an orchestra, but it could have been for a team at the car dealership, the supermarket, a restaurant, an insurance agency, the law firm or the widget factory. 

The goal: Nearly 100 musicians gathered together for the purpose of playing in harmony to provide beautiful music. It was a simple goal, easy to describe, understood by all, yet difficult to execute.

The passion: Those that showed up to play were there because they wanted to. No one made them attend; no one kept them there.
No one said work hard. They were professionals, not richly compensated, and not always working under ideal circumstances.

The plan: Each musician had a copy of the plan, in the form of sheet music. The plan was right in front of them, at every practice and during the entire performance.

The conductor: The symphony needed a leader. The conductor did not play an instrument, but he knew what each member of the symphony should be doing. He was in a unique position to help everyone shine in their performance by making sure that they adhered to the plan. The conductor was the accepted and acknowledged leader of the symphony.

The team: Each member of the symphony had a part to perform. Some were supportive roles; some did solo performances.

Regardless of the instrument played, or their roles, all had the same goal. They were all in alignment with the goal.

The importance of practice: Years earlier, the conductor had played a musical instrument. He understood that people knew if he had practiced because a poor performance was easy to hear. Knowing this, the conductor scheduled and held practice so that when the performance took place, the team was ready. The conductor and the musicians knew that even professionals need a lot of practice to be at their best.

Supporting one another: During one piece of music, the percussionist rang a bell 13 times. Thirteen rings of a bell was the totality of his contribution to that piece of music. It could be argued that the violins and horns worked harder, played longer and were
responsible for the majority of the sound that the symphony generated.

Yet, every musician knew and accepted that without those 13 taps on the bell, the music would not have been complete and not as beautiful as possible.

Those doing solos needed the support of all the musicians just as the symphony needed those 13 sounds of the bell. This support helped achieve the excellence they were looking for in their individual performance.

Each musician did their part by contributing their skills where and when they were most needed. The team respected every contribution.

Mistakes happen: During the concert, a trumpet player hit a wrong note. When it happened, everyone knew a mistake had been made. No one stopped playing. The mistake was never acknowledged; everyone knew the trumpet player was embarrassed, and he recovered by playing beautifully the rest of the performance.

The applause: Who was the applause for? The audience applauded the entire symphony. The conductor took a bow. Each musician took a bow. The applause was shared and so was the success.

The question: If your company isn’t making beautiful music for your clients, you could be making an awful noise. What are you going to do about it?

 Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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