Standardized processes in business should be music to your ears

Last week I caught the latest episode of “Spectacle: Elvis Costello with…” featuring an interview with jazz musician Bill Clinton (yes, the Bill Clinton).  Their conversation was gripping but something Clinton said gave me a bit of a “eureka!” moment.
Standard processes and all the jazz

Standard processes and all that jazz

Costello posed the question to Clinton regarding the impact that music had on his career as president.  Clinton responded that music has allowed him to see things in a different way.  He spoke about how he learned about the basics of music such as how to read notes.  But then he also learned how to see beyond the notes to create his own interpretation.  With music as a metaphor for his political life, he learned the rules of the job but then he worked with them to create his own White House.

Let me give you some background as to why what Bill had said had hit home:  I had just returned home from the BC HRMA conference and had attended a workshop titled “Designing Organizations:  Foundation Concepts and Application Tools” led by Dr. Chris Worley.  He showed his “money slide” which showed different levels of organization design, from simple to complex.  Basically, the simplest organizations had standard processes, goals, measures, plan & reviews.  In order to get to a more complex organization, you had to have the simple basics in place – organizational standards.  Dr. Worley was clear on one point:  innovative organizations all have standardized processes. 

Music has standard notes so that musicians aren’t all over the map, playing their own tunes.  But luckily, music still allows for interpretation.  Organizations can have standards, too, while allowing for flexibility in interpretation to meet the needs of its people.


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