Experienced jazz musicians apply specific principles to collaborate, execute, and manage change in real time—delivering extraordinary innovation in the face of non-stop pressure and risk. Now, jazz musician and collaboration expert Adrian Cho shows how you can use the same principles to dramatically improve any team's performance.
Cho systematically introduces the Jazz Process and demonstrates how it can help cross-functional teams improve teamwork, innovation, and execution. You'll learn new ways to encourage and integrate strong individual contributions from passionate and committed practitioners, and give them maximum autonomy while making sure your project's "music" never degenerates into chaotic "noise."
Through multiple case studies, Cho shows you how high-performance teams achieve their success.
Review By: Rodolfo F. Engmann 02/05/2011It was with much joy that I jumped into Adrian Cho’s The Jazz Process and bought into his illustrative mental model for better understanding how collaborative performances should occur with diverse talent. His background as a jazz musician provides a credible vantage point for writing about how multiple talents can weave in and out of the reconciling pace and beat provided by a bassist and drummer. In addition to using musical syncopation to highlight situations where the agile development process excels, Cho also draws on references to leadership principles found in corporate America and the NBA. Cho not only makes compelling arguments for agile development protocols, he also paints an engaging story that offers the reader a better appreciation of cybernetics and systems thinking as it relates to collaborative innovation.
As a management consultant and executive leadership coach, I have been able to expand my tool kit and framework through Cho’s fine work. He organizes the principles of the Jazz Process into fourteen chapters that follow a logical flow from collaborative strategic thinking to accountable execution and, finally, to delivering a differentiated product. Cho’s fourteen principles reside in a classical management system framework of working, collaborating, executing, and innovation. He also borrows concepts from fighter pilots using the OODA (observe, orient, decide, and act) model to provide a systems-thinking view. Cho peppers his images with solid arguments around balancing bottoms-up, evidence-based decision making with top-down, intuitive directives.
What makes this book incredibly useful is Cho’s journalistic approach to expanding his solid credentials in the agile development space with in-depth stories concerning special moments in jazz history or professional basketball championships. It is refreshing to see Cho not relying solely on his Rational Team Concert pedigree but making sense of his learned business practices through his introspection of interviews conducted with jazz and sport legends. Cho is at his best when using interviews concerning specific performances by bands led by Duke Ellington and Miles Davis to tie his espoused principles to the overall fabric of the Jazz Process. It also is revealing to read how Zen Buddhist basketball coach extraordinaire Phil Jackson planned for and harnessed individuals’ passions to deliver successful collaborative achievements.
My only complaint is that the last part of book, concerning innovation, draws less on music, sports, and other social sciences. Cho spoiled me with a heightened expectation regarding innovation as the ultimate conclusion, but this section is rushed. Its academic material regarding shared vision and risk management could have benefited from the same depth of material as the rest of the book. However, Cho creates so much momentum with the earlier material that I was able to come to some helpful conclusions and was content with the ride.