Friday, March 24, 2023
HomeMBAClasses in Innovation from Bowie, Beyoncé, and Extra

Classes in Innovation from Bowie, Beyoncé, and Extra

ALISON BEARD: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Enterprise Evaluation. I’m Alison Beard. Most of us know that we will be taught a fantastic deal from individuals in different disciplines. So that you’ll discover enterprise leaders who’ve studied social sciences, like psychology or regulation, utilized sciences, like math and engineering, and humanities, like historical past or languages.

However our visitor in the present day believes that there’s a subject executives and managers don’t think about carefully sufficient. They are saying all of the artistic work that’s gone into the hit music made by artists like Beyonce, Girl Gaga, Bjork, Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Yo-Yo Ma, Bon Jovi, or The Beatles will also be utilized to our company endeavors. Whether or not it’s changing into higher at experimentation, collaboration, or reinvention, we will be taught a ton from these musicians.

With me in the present day is Panos Panay, the outgoing senior vice chairman for international technique and innovation at Berklee School of Music, and the incoming co-president of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammys, and Michael Hendrix, companion and international design director at IDEO, the design and innovation consulting agency.

Collectively, they wrote the guide Two Beats Forward: What Musical Minds train us about innovation. They usually’re right here to elucidate why we must always all assume extra like musicians, even when we will’t carry a tune. Panos, Michael, thanks a lot for being right here.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Thanks, Alison.


ALISON BEARD: Why have you ever pinpointed musicians particularly as essential individuals to be taught from versus one other form of artist or an athlete or a coach?

PANOS PANAY: Properly, partially, it’s as a result of we’ve labored with musicians all of our lives, we’ve been musicians. I’ve personally been immersed in music and the music trade since I used to be very younger. In order that’s been our expertise, however we additionally imagine that these mindsets that we describe in Two Beats Forward are fairly distinctive to the music makers on the market.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Properly, one of many fascinating issues about musicians is the best way they see the world. You requested about musicians versus athletes, for instance. When you concentrate on any sport, the foundations hardly ever change. And once they do, it’s fairly controversial. However as a result of the foundations don’t change, the crew, the variety of gamers on the sector doesn’t change. You may optimize on your roles. You may optimize on your efficiency.

Music doesn’t work that approach. Music is all about dynamism. It’s about improvisation. It’s about creativity and unlocking the potential of each other. What we’re advocating for is adopting extra of that mindset that focuses much less on creating grasp plans and optimization. It focuses extra on constructing collaboration and respect between friends, after which transferring into these relationships with openness and curiosity, with expectation for brand spanking new outcomes that weren’t deliberate.

ALISON BEARD: And it appears apparent, however you say the very first thing that musicians do is hear. And that’s one thing that folks within the company world might do much more of. So how do musicians hear in a approach that yields new insights?

PANOS PANAY: Alison, I believe we stay in an period of an excessive amount of broadcasting and never sufficient listening. What units musicians aside isn’t a lot simply the best way that they go about expressing themselves, however their means to listen to and hear and course of, if you’ll, data in a approach that no one else does. They make area for listening. They find time for listening. They perceive that music is as a lot the motion, if you’ll, the word, as it’s the area and the time and the openness in between the notes.

And we really feel like within the enterprise world, there’s a lack of a acutely aware time spent on really listening to the setting round you, be it your workers, be it your clients, or finally, the broader adjustments which are occurring round us. Issues are transferring maybe so quick that we don’t actually make a acutely aware effort to gradual it down and listen.

ALISON BEARD: And also you draw some very clear parallels between what musicians do and what entrepreneurs do, in that they do consciously experiment and create demos. Speak a bit bit extra about how The methods during which musicians do these issues, maps to what we will see working in organizations.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Properly, demoing is similar to prototyping, and it begins with this concept of merely sharing your intention with any person else. When a track thought comes about, it’s uncooked. And really, within the guide, now we have playlist on the finish of every chapter, so you may hear some well-known demos to get a sense of this.

ALISON BEARD: As quickly as I learn that chapter, I Googled up Prince. And I watched his demo of Manic Monday, which was clearly made well-known by The Bangles, however Prince wrote it.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Yeah. And so once you heard that demo, you heard the intention of the track. The Bangles understood what Prince was attempting to speak by means of that prototype or that demo. After which clearly, they made it theirs with their very own character and their very own voice, nevertheless it’s a transparent line from A to B. And sharing early, sharing typically by means of demoing is a apply we will all do usually at work.

Now, what occurs usually is individuals. Folks fear about criticism due to lack of perfection. They maintain concepts again. They self-edit. They’re typically incentivized to do this by the group itself, as a result of the best way you present up at work, so to talk, can typically have penalties on whether or not you’re promoted or not. However the fact is, sharing sooner typically helps get to concepts quicker, and it opens area for different individuals to collaborate with you and construct upon these concepts.

PANOS PANAY: Demoing or prototyping is all about form of a constructive motion. You’re daring to take a step. Within the guide, we talked about a lot of examples of this occurring to musicians, like Ike Turner, for instance, and the invention of distorted sound, which modified the trajectory of contemporary music perpetually, which was merely, they had been driving to a gig and the amplifier fell off the again of the truck, and once they plugged it in, it simply sounded distorted. It’s daring to experiment or daring to decide to an motion irrespective of the result that usually results in breakthroughs.

ALISON BEARD: Yeah. Considered one of my favourite traces was from an interview you probably did with Justin Timberlake, who mentioned he dares to suck within the studio, however the studio is clearly a very forgiving setting the place individuals are riffing and attempting out new lyrics and new melodies and new chords. How do you create a piece setting during which individuals really feel snug doing that once they’re not Justin Timberlake within the studio?

PANOS PANAY: You recognize what’s humorous, Alison? Because the guide got here out at Berklee, all of our executives learn the guide, and it’s now develop into frequent for individuals to say, “Look, I’m going to dare to suck, however I’m going to go forward and say this.” I believe it’s simply merely a reframing of what’s the idea of a studio. I imply, if you concentrate on it, you mentioned it’s a straightforward place to experiment. Properly, it’s truly fairly not as a result of it prices some huge cash even in the present day to be in a recording studio.

So for us, it’s extra about creating the circumstances within the office or different locations the place it’s secure to go forward and say one thing and make a mistake, or take an motion and embrace imperfection as typically a method to producing or creating one thing that possibly you weren’t intending, nevertheless it’s the very factor that you simply had been meant to have all alongside. So for me, that is the place the managers can play a giant function. Are you able to create the circumstances, the setting the place individuals really feel okay to dare to suck? And simply sitting again and seeing what occurs, what sort of loopy concepts come about.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: I imply, this is among the greater classes we realized as we had been writing the guide. We did a chapter on producing and in that chapter, we spoke with Jimmy Irving and we spoke with Hank Shocklee, one of many founders of Public Enemy, T Bone Burnett. All of them had been saying the identical factor. And Panos used the phrase, creating the circumstances. All of us talked about that in a roundabout way, that they felt just like the job of a producer, and I relate to this as a artistic director, as an govt, the job of the producer is to grasp the expertise they’re working with, perceive their strengths after which have the ability to come alongside them, create the chance for them to make use of these strengths after which assist them develop within the locations the place they’re weak. And that’s very empowering for them and it’s additionally, I believe, empowering for the producer.

ALISON BEARD: Yeah. I really feel like an HBR converse, it could be known as main from behind.

PANOS PANAY: I used to be about to make use of that expression. In some ways, we’re used to the idea of management, any person who’s main within the entrance, charging forward, issuing orders and individuals are following, if you’ll, these instructions. However what we’re discovering is that the perfect producers on the earth, they’re expert at trusting their expertise, understanding the individuality of that expertise and creating the circumstances and the platforms, if you’ll, for the expertise to specific itself.

ALISON BEARD: Yeah. Let’s speak a bit bit extra about collaboration. We talked about how Prince works with The Bangles, how musicians work with well-known producers, however the tales that you simply inform concerning the behind the scenes collaboration to make albums like Beyonce’s Lemonade, for instance, are actually fascinating since you see the music trade actually being a shining instance for leveraging, not only a few factors of view, however dozens. So how can we start to use that to our work lives?

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Yeah. Beyonce is a grasp collaborator. We don’t consider her typically that approach as a result of one, she goes by her identify, she doesn’t have a band identify. What she reveals us although is that in some ways, she takes this producer’s mindset during which she’s wanting on the expertise of many individuals round her and asking, how can I work with you in a roundabout way to unlock one thing new for one another? So a track like Maintain Up had 15 songwriters, which is tough to think about which you could have 15 songwriters for a track, however she did have a imaginative and prescient for, let’s say a few of the elements, however she didn’t understand how that was precisely going to return collectively, proper? She’s a bit little bit of working with Ezra Koenig, who had taken a bit bit from Karen O.

She’s a fan of MNEK, requested him to return in. She’s mates with Diplo, requested him to return in. And all of those completely different elements begin to add as much as one thing new and actually a genre-defined track, actually sensible lyrics that she had pieced collectively. And if she had got down to say, I’m going to jot down a track with 15 collaborators, I believe it could have been a practice wreck. However what she did is she simply saved organically constructing with these completely different friends whom she noticed as friends to get to that last consequence.

I imply, that may be actually uncomfortable, I believe, within the enterprise setting to assume, I’m going to spend money on placing this crew collectively. I’m unsure what they’re going to provide you with, nevertheless it comes again to perception within the crew itself, perception on this collaborators itself. And Beyonce lives this, she believes within the collaboration and the ability of it to end result within the outcomes she’s hoping for.

ALISON BEARD: And also you all have seen leaders who aren’t Beyonce and do that form of factor, pull actually nice expertise collectively and simply have them sort out an issue or a problem and provide you with a brand new and surprising approach of fixing it.

PANOS PANAY: Yeah. I really feel that we frequently consider some leaders, even any person like Steve jobs as form of these, once more, prototypical lone chargers who form of difficulty these edicts and issues occur. However even within the scenario of Steve Jobs, I believe one of many issues that he’s most likely not acknowledged for is his means in his second tenure at Apple to assemble a crew of wonderful people, most of that are nonetheless there even nearly a decade I believe after his dying, that collectively have been capable of make Apple into the world’s, relying on the week, most useful firm.

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: The product mannequin of IDEO is mainly this concept of placing collectively supergroups, proper? . It’s not nearly placing random groups collectively and hoping issues occur. Selecting the best expertise is important, and you may see this. My children, they’re all out of highschool now, however they had been in venture studying environments during which they might be placed on random groups with different classmates and it could typically be a foul expertise for everyone. Somebody didn’t contribute in any respect, the trainer’s grading them. Though two individuals did the work, three individuals didn’t, it’s a multitude. And that’s due to the randomness of the groups that you simply’ve put collectively. So when you concentrate on collaboration at work, team-based tasks are nice, however we do have to be very aware of how we select that expertise and put them collectively. In any other case, it has potential to fail.

ALISON BEARD: So we’ve talked so much about innovation, however I do assume execution can be actually essential for our viewers. And one factor that I discovered fascinating, possibly a bit counterintuitive, is your suggestion that like musicians, it’s okay for leaders to make selections partly on feeling and instinct that we must always preserve this experimental course of going and speedy iteration, et cetera. It’s like whereby does the rubber meet the highway and you’ve got a product that you already know goes to be nice, and then you definitely simply deal with making it pretty much as good as attainable?

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: I imply I believe we’re in a dynamic world and there are some issues which are achieved, however most issues are in some model. And there was a poet, a French poet, I don’t bear in mind his identify, however he mainly got here up with the concept nice artwork isn’t completed, it’s deserted. You mainly simply get to the purpose the place you may let go. And all through all of our interviews, mainly all of the artists had been saying the identical factor. You retain engaged on issues till you allow them to go.

Kanye West is an instance of an artist who even after letting go, got here again and altered an album many times over the course of three months to the frustration of the music trade. However he was desirous about completely different variations of that document, Lifetime of Pablo, and the way he needed the sound, altering track order, altering songs, altering preparations. So I suppose what I’m advocating for in that’s achieved will not be the best psychological mannequin within the digital period that we have to begin adopting extra of an natural organic psychological mannequin for this stuff which are consistently evolving.

PANOS PANAY: Properly even merchandise that had been as soon as regarded as achieved, even that’s altering. Take a look at automobiles. You purchase a Tesla in the present day and it’s primarily software program pushed. The type of the automotive might not change, however a lot of the underlying operation of the automotive, even its effectivity, is altering from software program updates. In order the world is transferring increasingly more to bits and bytes and away from atoms, I believe you will notice that nothing is absolutely ever achieved. And I imagine we’ll start to see this manifest, particularly as we’re experiencing all new computational energy, increasingly more gadgets tapping into the cloud. I believe that you will notice lots of this concept of issues evolving and changing into, and by no means fairly feeling achieved insert itself in all merchandise that had been as soon as regarded as last.

ALISON BEARD: Yeah. You even have entire chapter on remixes. So how can individuals within the enterprise world try this strategy of wanting again to drag ahead into one thing that’s extra related in the present day for his or her clients?

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Yeah, I imply a lot of innovation is just transferring what works from one trade into one other trade, proper? And that’s actually the remixing thought. I can take the beats from a jazz document, loop them and rap excessive and I’ll get a hip hop track. And Hank Shocklee, whom I discussed earlier, was only a genius at doing this, recognizing the patterns. And that’s the place it begins, I believe, is it’s an instinct the place you will discover patterns throughout industries and begin to acknowledge the place alternative would possibly overlap. In our world, you might say for instance, the pay on the pump fuel station is an instance of a transference from taking an ATM pad and placing it onto a fuel pump. And there’s lots of alternatives for us to be desirous about that transference out there.

PANOS PANAY: And we have a tendency to think about innovation as beginning one thing new out of nothing. However typically innovation is about seeing issues which are already there and envisioning them assembled differently and creating one thing new. It’s simply merely shuffling issues round.

ALISON BEARD: On the flip facet, you speak concerning the reinvention, that folks like David Bowie, and Madonna, and Girl Gaga have discovered of their careers, and that’s really abandoning the previous and going onto one thing new. So how would possibly I try this in my very own profession? How might our listeners? Or how can firms try this?

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: Properly, the excellent news is that you simply as a person and also you as an organization can each do the identical factor. And we’ll look to David Bowie for some instruction right here. Bowie, on the finish of his profession mentioned, “After I look again at 4 many years of all these characters I’ve had, from Aladdin Sane, to Skinny White Duke, to Halloween Jack, to Lazarus, I see that on the core, I’m a songwriter and I’ve written about three or 4 themes my complete life, issues like loneliness, isolation.”

And I believe that’s actually instructive as a result of once you consider Bowie, you consider somebody that’s consistently altering, don’t you? And each Madonna and Girl Gaga have mentioned they took that very same blueprint. However truly what’s occurring is you have got an instance of any person who actually understands their core, understands what they’re good at, understands what they’re obsessed with, after which rotates the collaborators, the forged of characters, the concepts round that core thought. So attending to your core is definitely the key to having the ability to change. We share some tales about firms within the guide that, Fujifilm was one, Nokia, Nationwide Geographic. They’ve all had to determine what their core is to allow them to evolve with the altering market.

However if you happen to take a look at what every of them has achieved, they actually did begin to perceive, I present infrastructure for communication, or I’ve the power to assist protect the standard of images, or have the power to assist talk tales about our local weather. Once they can boil it all the way down to that simplicity, they will change the actions round them pretty simply. And now we have to do this as people too. I believe particularly now, lots of us have been asking that query of ourselves anyway, due to the pandemic.

ALISON BEARD: It sounds such as you’re speaking about function.

PANOS PANAY: I used to be about to make use of the phrase function. Don’t confuse your product together with your function or the opposite approach round. Or as a mentor of mine, who’s a founding father of Avid, a man known as Invoice Warner mentioned to me, “There may be invention after which there’s intention. Don’t confuse the 2.”

And I really feel that usually as people, as organizations, we get too hung up on a selected id that we neglect what our function or our intention is. And finally, that is what has distinguished nice artists, that is what distinguishes nice firms or nice people. They preserve altering, they preserve evolving, they preserve shedding a pores and skin, if you’ll, however they’re at all times by some means recognizable. It doesn’t matter what, Bowie within the late 60s, or Bowie within the 2000s, proper earlier than his dying, you might hear one word sung by David Bowie and you already know it’s David Bowie, the identical with Miles Davis, the identical with Madonna, the identical wit any variety of artists.

ALISON BEARD: Okay, final query, if I’m a supervisor, and even simply a person worker, what’s one factor that I can do at work tomorrow to be extra like David Bowie or Beyonce?

R. MICHAEL HENDRIX: I’d begin with the collaboration idea we talked about earlier. Take into consideration your proficient peer set and ask not what they could create collectively, however who could be fascinating to have creating collectively.

PANOS PANAY: And I’d say, within the subsequent assembly that you simply’re in, and also you’re sitting there listening to individuals speak and an thought pops in your head, you have got two selections. There’s the editor that claims, “Ah, I’ll sound foolish. Or individuals might not like what I’ve to say.” Or the opposite alternative is, I’ll dare to suck and I’ll simply go forward and throw my thought on the market and see what occurs. Select the latter.

ALISON BEARD: I adore it. I’ll strive to do this tomorrow. Panos, Michael, thanks a lot for being on the present.

PANOS PANAY: Thanks, Alison.


ALISON BEARD: That’s Panos Panay, the outgoing Senior Vice President for International Technique and Innovation at Berkeley School of Music, and incoming Co-President of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammys. And Michael Hendrix, Accomplice and International Design Director at IDEO. They’re co-authors of the guide Two Beats Forward: What Musical Minds Train Us About Innovation.

This episode was produced by Mary Dooe. We get technical assist from Rob Eckhardt. Adam Buchholz is our Audio Product Supervisor. Thanks for listening to the HBR IdeaCast. I’m Alison Beard.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments