Say Yes to the Mess

Frank J. Barrett, a professor of management and global public policy at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., is also a jazz pianist who has led his own trios and quartets and traveled with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra. In his new book, Yes to the Mess:  Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz, Barrett riffs on the themes that improvisational jazz and enlightened corporate management have in common. The book is breezy and fun, and offers vivid real-life stories from Barrett’s musical career and observations about some jazz greats, all juxtaposed with anecdotes from the business world.

Here are the lessons he imparts:

1. Improvise through the chaos.

Barrett tells about playing at a club in Cleveland with a jazz quartet whose members he didn’t know, including a singer he had never accompanied. In the middle of a bebop tune, it became clear the singer hardly knew the song. As the saxophone stopped playing and the other players balked, Barrett persisted, hitting a few notes and then the original melody. Soon the sax jumped back in and the singer started making up words. “Within a few seconds, we were grooving again,” he writes.

That tale leads him to the story of GE’s experience during the financial crisis, when the company’s hugely profitable financial arm, GE Capital, suddenly hit a wall. GE wound up improvising with its other businesses, from manufacturing light bulbs to jet engines. The company recovered on the strength of its ability to adjust to change.

Read the rest of the lessons in the full story here.

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Susan Adams

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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