The music paradigm

By Felix Salmon
May 20, 2009

I went along to an event featuring Roger Nierenberg today, despite the fact that I’m constitutionally allergic to anybody who comes out with managementspeak like this:

The Music Paradigm will benefit organizations dealing with a period of exceptional challenge or change. The most typical issues include: restructuring or reorganizing, change initiatives, cultural transformation, innovation and creativity, globalization, new leadership, merger or consolidation, cross-functional teamwork, new mission or strategy, and high performance.

Nierenberg’s shtick is that he takes 75-100 “leaders” and seats them next to members of a chamber orchestra he’s conducting. He then draws unconvincing parallels between sections of an orchestra and business-world teams, or between an orchestra’s conductor and a company’s executives.

That said, it’s quite an experience, all the same, sitting between the cellos and the first violins (in my case), experiencing first hand what it’s like to be inside the music-making machine that is an orchestra. How that can possibly translate into book form I have no idea, but many thanks all the same to Penguin Portfolio for inviting me along to this event.

I was struck by one thing Nierenberg said: that both musicians and conductors are rare examples of people who get instant and obvious results from what they do. That’s one of the most addictive things about blogging, too: press the button, and it’s up, immediately, for all the world to see. And I think that’s one of the great attractions of Twitter: not only do you get the instant gratification of seeing your tweet in public, but you also get responses incredibly quickly from the people who are following you. The world is getting faster, and more immediate, and, in that sense, more like an orchestra. Which doesn’t mean that Nierenberg’s “Music Paradigm” is a great buy. But if your company invites you to attend one of these things, do go — it’s a pretty unique experience.

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