Democracy, Hierarchy and Jazz a Discussion on LinkedIn

Blog-jazz-hierarchy-democracyWhile on LinkedIn I came across an interesting question. Could not help but to chime in on the discussion.

Jackie Modeste Education & Business Consultant, The Global Roundhouse asked:
If we are a democratic nation, shouldn’t our organizations, institutions, and businesses operate democratically like jazz? Do we have the courage and integrity to be culturally consistent?

Yes, is my short answer to Jackie’s question. Ideally, businesses should work as democratically as jazz does. In the abstract, this would be a beautiful thing. In some ways music is leading the way to less “hierarchy”. A jazz band has a perfect democracy because of the trust that is an integral part of the music must be there for the music to happen.

There is hierarchy in the business aspects of the music though. Does a band have to have a leader? Isn’t it more directed in purpose if it does? Or, is it just another case of one person taking charge because all the members can’t work together to create a direction? When I was young, I played in “co-op” bands where all of us booked gigs, wrote charts, and assumed various duties. Each player expressed his ideas about all these things when they performed these duties. Consequently, these bands didn’t last as long as the players went elsewhere to continue their processes. In the bands where there was a leader, direction was always obvious. They lasted longer and called for the trust of sideman to leader.

Hierarchy doesn’t have to create fear or lack of trust or commitment. It isn’t really the system so much as it is the people in it. There are companies with profit sharing plans that create trust in employees. Hierarchy correctly applied is leadership. Congress isn’t leading. There are many that have. The system is the same. the PEOPLE involved need to trust. Thanks for the great question Jackie.

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