NHS spend £5,000 on jazz leadership lessons

The NHS has spent £5,000 sending staff on a transformational leadership course based around “the world of jazz and improvisation”.

The art of transformational leadership course by Improwise asserts that if employees are able to understand how jazz musicians communicate, improvise and innovate, the skills and techniques can be applied in the workplace.

The course also includes an interactive live jazz performance embedded within the session.

Improwise encourage attendees to create ‘disruptive innovation’ interrupting habit patterns to look at new ways of doing things.

The company says of the course: “We seek to identify and utilise new sets of skills to bring about change, enhance communication, leadership, team working, and innovation.

“We do this by bringing a jazz band into the board room or conference venue, and we examine the skills of live improvising jazz musicians, and see how we could utilise those skills within organisations, looking at new ways of working, market development and customer engagement.”

Comments (9)
Fri, 14 Feb 2014 12:48pm GMT
As a freelance consultant, one of my clients uses a company who use a formula 1 pitcrew experience as a method of developing leadership and teamwork. It's brilliant!
It all depends with these experiential interventions how well developed they are. One bad experience taints the whole barrel of them.
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Thu, 9 Jan 2014 6:08pm GMT
Nigel Brown
Someone cleverer than me once said something on the lines off

if you always do what you have always done, you'll always get the same results you always had.

Therefore why not try something a bit different designed to promote more innovative thinking
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Mon, 6 Jan 2014 8:48pm GMT
Paul Barrett
It seems someone in HR within the NHS is yet again confusing entertainment with leadership development. While a 'a day out for a bit of fun' might be a nice reward for a hard-working group of employees, pretending that it is anything but 'a bit of fun' is an insult to those whose brains have not become atrophied by HR gobbledygook.

Leadership development is a serious, delicate, and tricky business. It is not to be found in the clutch of stupid vaporware 'experiential courses' such as these but in carefully managed, suited to current experience, real-work job-roles into which those who are considered potential leaders might be observed 'in action'. You don't 'learn' leadership suited to an organizational context from mucking around with jazz instruments, playing drums, or finding your way off Ben Nevis armed with a toothpick and shoelace.

You show whether you have 'the right stuff' by doing it. How HR designs and develops these kinds of developmental leadership trajectories and observation-based evaluations is a measure of their expertise and strategic input for any organization. This is a world away from these kinds of idiot-brained workplace interventions.

And for those who commented with a stream of well-meant, sound-bite, metaphors. Stop right now. The concepts of which you speak (complexity, adaptive strategy, innovation, insight, collaboration, etc) are sound and valid. But you don't get to understand these from playing musical instruments. These concepts are themselves, complex, multi-faceted, and sometimes completely irrelevant in some decision-making and managerial contexts. By all means entertain some exposure to these as part of a designed development process, but metaphor is not always conducive to thinking about practical problems.

For those decision-makers reading this (if any), I leave it to Joseph Raelin and Henry Mintzberg to provide a more formal commentary and explanation why =organizational= leadership development is about 'doing it and showing it', and not playing parlour games, musical instruments, orienteering, or being asked to jump through other specious HR hoops:

Raelin, J. (2004). Don't bother putting leadership into people. Academy of Management Executive, 18, 3, 131-135.

Mintzberg, H. (2004). Leadership and management development: An afterword. Academy of Management Executive, 18, 3, 140-142.

And yes, in the grand scheme of things, £5,000 is a trivial amount of money. But the pretence that what it is spent on is somehow considered 'leadership development' is what really causes concern because if those who can spend money on this nonsense really think this way, what happens when it comes to bigger budget tomfoolery?

And I haven't even touched upon the lack of any coherent 'evidence-base' for these kinds of employee interventions!
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Mon, 6 Jan 2014 4:41pm GMT
Haider Imam
As Michelle Obama put it, “There’s probably no greater example of democracy than a jazz band: individual freedom but with responsibility to the group.” Just what the doctor ordered for our beloved & beleaguered NHS, I think... And a good example of adopting a progressive 'growth mindset,' rather than being stuck in the same old, predictable, unsuccessful patterns of the past. **Applauds**
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Mon, 6 Jan 2014 3:51pm GMT
Chris Hickey
As a former NED in the NHS I think this sounds like an excellent and innovative approach to helping managers become more creative and resourceful. Too much Management Training is dull and uninspired and uninspiring. I bet they really enjoyed the session and it will remain with them for many years to come as a stimulating learning experience.
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