Ann Majchrzak, Dave Logan, Ron McCurdy, Mathias Kirchmer: What Business Leaders can Learn from Jazz Musicians about Emergent Processes. Editors: Scheer, A.- W., Kruppke, H., Jost, W., Kindermann, H., In book: Agility by ARIS Business Process Management. Berlin, New York, and others 2006.


Using the jazz metaphor, conventional wisdom suggests that managers (jazz band leaders) should lead knowledge workers engaged in emergent work processes (jazz band members), using plans as guides, becoming experts in the work they’re managing, hiding the emergent nature of the work from their customers, and leading charismatically in the face of uncertainty. The authors’ research and experience, with both jazz and management, indicates that this conventional wisdom does not capture the essence of what either successful managers or jazz leaders do, since it separates learning from doing the business of emergent work. Instead, successful managers of emergent work focus on conversations, not plans; they rely on and constantly build mental maps of the expertise in their ‘bands’; they engage rather than hide from the public, as knowledge about the work emerges, and they lead through making connections, not through charismatic showmanship.

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