One of my favorite quotes is from Charlie Bird Parker about playing jazz: “You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”
I don’t play an instrument, but I understand jazz to be something that finds its way as it is played—something generated from the various voices and experience that walk into the nightclub.
“When most oarsmen talked about their perfect moments in a boat, they referred not so much to winning a race, as to the feel of the boat, all eight oars in the water together, the synchronization almost perfect. In moments like these, the boat seemed to lift right out of the water. Oarsmen called that the moment of swing.” —David Halberstam, author of The Amateurs
Similarly, leadership consultant Judy Brown describes the wisdom of the group as thinking that no one has when they enter the meeting—thinking that emerges from the group. Therein lies the power of a group—a group of people who trust each other and devote their attention to each person who speaks. A group that puts fewer items on the agenda—items that require the thinking of each person and the wisdom that will emerge from the group.
Meetings can be a series of conversations where great thinking occurs and alignment on decisions and actions is reached easily. Meetings can feature engagement that builds relationships—relationships that create a pathway for collaboration and cooperation between meetings.
Powerful groups can make things happen and create new possibilities that individual work cannot. Put some time on your team’s agenda and discuss these three questions:
- What does it mean to be a powerful group?
- What does it mean to have influence within a group?
- If we become a powerful group, what becomes possible for the organization?
There are many reasons to master the design and leading of meetings, but one of the most compelling is the opportunity to capture and benefit from the wisdom and power of your group.
“When human beings gather…a depth of awareness and insight, a type of transcendent knowing, becomes available to us that can inform wise action and extraordinary results.” —Alan Briskin, author of The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly.