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The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation, and Agility

The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation, and Agility

4.7 3
by Adrian Cho

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"An insider’s guide to translating the creative techniques of jazz to the business world.”

Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation


What Can Your Team Learn From Jazz Musicians?


Experienced jazz musicians apply specific principles to collaborate, execute, and


"An insider’s guide to translating the creative techniques of jazz to the business world.”

Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation


What Can Your Team Learn From Jazz Musicians?


Experienced jazz musicians apply specific principles to collaborate, execute, and manage change in real time--delivering extraordinary innovation in the face of non-stop pressure and risk. Now, jazz musician and collaboration expert Adrian Cho shows how you can use the same principles to dramatically improve any team’s performance.


Cho systematically introduces the Jazz Process and demonstrates how it can help cross-functional teams improve teamwork, innovation, and execution. You’ll learn new ways to encourage and integrate strong individual contributions from passionate and committed practitioners, and give them maximum autonomy while making sure your project’s “music” never degenerates into chaotic “noise.”


Through multiple case studies, Cho shows you how high-performance teams achieve their success.


• Master five core principles of working in teams: use just enough rules, employ top talent, put the team first, build trust and respect, and commit with passion

• Establish a realistic framework for effective, continuous execution

• Collaborate more effectively with team members, consumers, customers, partners, and suppliers

• Master the essentials of team execution: listening for change, leading on demand, acting transparently, and making every contribution count

• Reduce the “friction” associated with collaboration--and increase the synergy

• Use form, tempo, pulse, and groove to maintain constructive momentum

• Learn about the importance of healthy projects and teams

• Innovate by exchanging ideas and taking the right measured risks

• For every practitioner, leader, and manager interested in getting better results


Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An insider’s guide to translating the creative techniques of jazz to the business world.”

--Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation

“Jazz demands cooperation, enterprise, creativity, measured risk, and so much more--and so does business. Adrian’s book is an entertaining guide for importing the jazz process into the world of business.”

--Jack Chambers, linguistics professor at the University of Toronto and jazz biographer, author of Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis

“This book has an important message: Effective collaborations are like jazz improvisations. Jazz succeeds because the group shares just the right kind of rules and structures; business teams also need to improvise within the right kind of structure. Cho has years of experience playing jazz and working in business teams, and in this book he applies this experience to analyze the ways that effective business teams balance structure and freedom.”

--Dr. R. Keith Sawyer, associate professor of psychology and education at Washington University and author of Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration and many other books on creativity and innovation

“In The Jazz Process, Adrian Cho weaves some unusual and interesting four-part harmony between jazz, business, sport, and information technology around an important theme…teamwork.”

--Dr. Saul L. Miller, psychologist and author of Why Teams Win: 9 Keys to Success in Business, Sport, and Beyond and Performing Under Pressure: Gaining the Mental Edge in Business and Sport

“Adrian Cho’s insight into high-performance teams is drawn from his personal experiences in music, business, and software engineering. Within the Eclipse community we have seen many of these ideas in action, and they work. I highly recommend The Jazz Process to anyone seeking to learn how to build agile, effective teams--regardless of your field of endeavor.”

--Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director, Eclipse Foundation

Product Details

Pearson Education
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Read an Excerpt


“Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.”

—Amy Lowell, nineteenth-century American poet

About This Book

This book is an artistic expression that captures some of my personal thoughts about the world in which we work and play. Although I didn’t write this book with a thematic approach in mind, three themes emerged from the text in support of the concepts you’ll find herein. Their presence is no surprise, as they are principles I value and have come to rely on over the years.

The first of these themes is diversity. I feel fortunate to have been exposed to a degree of diversity throughout my life. From a cultural perspective, I was born in Australia, where I spent the first 30 years of my life. My mother is Chinese, and my father was most likely Australian, although I can’t be certain. In primary (elementary) school, I was the only child of Asian descent in a student body of approximately 600 students. Back then, Australia was less racially diverse than it is today. My reaction to the way other children treated me was to reject my Chinese ancestry. Fortunately, my attitude changed as I grew up, and I began to embrace the differences that come with diversity and to realize how those differences have enriched my life. In 2000, I moved to Ottawa, Canada, where I live with my wife, Deborah, an American Lutheran pastor. We live on the rural outskirts of Ottawa and share our home with a large family of cats and dogs. Career-wise, my interests have always been many and varied, but arts and technology were particularly important to me since an early age. I could never decide between the two and eventually developed parallel careers in the software industry and in music. I’ve long been fascinated by diversity in teams. In the arts, I am always looking for ways to bring together artists from multiple genres or disciplines. I like to form musical ensembles that include both classical and jazz musicians and perform works that span genres and challenge both musicians and audiences. I also like to stage productions that bring together artists from a variety of disciplines, including visual artists, actors, dancers, and musicians. In business, I enjoy the dynamics of cross-functional teams, and I’m often trying to find ways to integrate multiple disciplines.

Unification is another strong current in this book. It comes from the belief that although people are all different, many ties bind us together. More specifically, although we all work and play in a wide variety of domains, certain principles are universally applicable. We all deal collectively with many of the same fundamental problems; only our contexts differ. Jazz musicians must constantly collaborate, innovate, and manage change, and they have to do so in real time. The same is true of a basketball team, a squad of soldiers, and a team in business. Although it’s natural to look toward fellow disciples when seeking solutions to the problems we encounter in our work, I’ve found that some of the best inspiration can come from people working in completely different disciplines. In this book, you’ll find examples of excellence drawn not only from software development and music, but also from business, military operations, and sports. You’ll also find the application of laws from the disciplines of sociology, psychology, physics, biology, and systems theory.

The final theme that plays out in this book is that of execution. I am always concerned by the glut of leadership, strategy and management education, and the dearth of focus on execution. It’s not simply that there are so many more words and minutes given to the former, and it has nothing to do with management versus those who work in the trenches. One person’s strategy is another person’s execution. Middle management executes the strategy set by upper management. Even the most senior people in an organization execute on behalf of a board, and they in turn are answerable to shareholders. The problem is that many leaders do not give enough respect or consideration to the realities of executing strategies defined in isolation. The result is usually failure that leads to finger-pointing all around. The strategies that are most likely to succeed are those created collaboratively with input from all stakeholders. Execution is another one of those universally applicable principles that must permeate an organization at all levels so that it moves in concert like a symphony orchestra. Successful artistic leaders who help deliver great performances with minimal planning and rehearsal understand and/or give due consideration to execution. In jazz, ensembles often execute with no plan or rehearsal whatsoever.

Reading This Book

The Jazz Process provides a framework for improving collaboration, innovation, and agility by offering a method for execution and 14 best principles that act on that method. Many books begin with an overview and then drill down into the details, a kind of “top-down” approach. In contrast, I’ve chosen a linear approach, resulting in a more natural progression for discussing the subject matter, somewhat akin to telling a story. Consequently, you won’t see the big picture until we’ve laid a foundation by discussing five principles for working. If you just can’t wait and you would like to see a high-level view right now, take a peek at the listing of the principles of the jazz process in the figure on page 85 and the execution cycle illustrated in the figure on page 98 in the “The Essentials of Execution” section in Part II.

As a domain-agnostic view of the way in which high-performance teams succeed in the face of challenges, the Jazz Process is inherently abstract. To put it to work, you must translate its method for execution and its principles into concrete practices that work specifically for your team and its activities. You’ll find many concrete examples to help you do that throughout this book. As you read through this book, you’ll find it beneficial to ask yourself how you can put the Jazz Process to work for you. You can find out more about the Jazz Process and even participate in discussions at http://www.jazzprocess.com.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Adrian Cho is exceptionally well-qualified to draw parallels between the worlds of jazz, business, and software. As a bassist and conductor, he leads the critically acclaimed symphonic jazz ensemble, Impressions in Jazz Orchestra. At IBM, he manages development of IBM® Rational® Team Concert™, the first product built on IBM’s Jazz® team collaboration platform, as well as Rational’s Collaborative Application Lifecycle Management project. As a manager of intellectual property, Adrian plays a key role in IBM’s Eclipse open source and Jazz Open Commercial Software Development efforts and serves as an invited expert on the Eclipse Foundation IP Advisory Committee.

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The Jazz Process: Collaboration, Innovation, and Agility 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Adrian Cho leads a jazz orchestra in Canada when he isn't developing IBM software. Now he wants to tell you how Miles Davis can change your business life. Cho touts jazz units such as Davis' immortal, innovative bands as models for high-performance teamwork. He derives 14 best practices from observing that standout performers in good jazz groups work together in an environment of alert listening and mutual respect to make great music off the cuff. He doesn't limit his examples to jazz, finding combo cognates in basketball, auto racing and the military. The upshot is a concept of leadership and teamwork that's well suited for the Google-age workplace. Alas, the text is dense and the graphics aren't very helpful. Trying to parse the earnest but process-heavy prose may make you play the blues. Still, getAbstract recommends this innovative book to human resources professionals, executives and managers needing new harmonies, and employees who know they could make a better contribution if only someone would let them play a solo.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ill take Vinesplash. Sunsetfire -^••^-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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