I attended TEDxHouston last weekend. It was a nice line up talks and a great collection of people. One of the talks that I found interesting was offered by Anthony Brandt - composer and music director. His message was focused on answering the question, "do we need the arts."His perspective, as you might expect, is that we do.
That's a given, here's what I found fascinating.
Anthony talked about what artistic endeavors do to our brains and how this relates to creativity. He was joined on stage by a string quartet who demonstrated his points through music.
Here's the first point: repetition "prunes" our brain. I love that word, pruning - not that I want to shrink and dehydrate my brain but that it offers a vivid image of what's happening. Anthony used the example of lullabies and why they put us to sleep - they are sweet and droning, the same phrases repeated with little change.
Instead of pruning our brains, art and artistic activities bend, break, or blend. The quartet played snippets of a Beethoven piece showing how he used all these techniques to build drama and interest.
As Anthony was talking, I could not help but think about how we communicate in the workplace. Lullaby or Beethoven? What I see is a lot of lullaby and very little Beethoven.
We tell leaders they need to communicate mission/values/goals again and again. And they do, reminding us through mouse pads and video clips. But unless we are going deeper, to the point of bending, breaking, or blending, we are just putting people asleep.
To change the culture, we need to persevere/repeat, but we should not do this in ways that prunes our brains. This idea offers leaders and opportunity to combat the lackluster vibe and engage our teams in building better futures.
What this means is that we need to let - encourage actually - employees bend, break, and blend the ideas and this means that we need to be more flexible. Allow people to create and make the organization's goals and vision their own. Not to the point that the organization goes off course - but in ways that keep it moving forward.
Leadership lullabies can be found in everyday workplace practices and messages. Most staff meetings are lullabies.
Wake up your team! Wake yourself up! If you are not creating, you are pruning.