A different approach to consulting
Welcome to my website. My name is David Hastings. I am the founder and principal of Managing Excellence. That is me, above, to the right of my musical idol, Trombone Shorty. Okay, why did I choose this photograph to headline my management consulting website? The story follows below.
Managing Excellence is a firm with more than 35 years of experience in assisting the executives and volunteer boards of directors to define and achieve their strategic objectives.
Me and Trombone Shorty
One of my daughters and her husband bought me tickets to a Trombone Shorty concert for Fathers’ Day. I decided to bring one of my trombones with me in the hopes that I could have it autographed by this amazing musician. Apparently I caught his eye while he was walking with his band through the audience, playing, “When the Saints Go Marching In” and he motioned for me to follow him, play a solo and then accompany him on stage. A night to remember! He brought in something totally new and had the courage to share with his audience that he had the openness of mind to bring up this musician whom he had never met nor heard play – Trombone Shorty was employing the principles of both social justice and jazz to create what ended up being a unique moment that was forever memorialized on Facebook! He thought to include a member of the community with whom he wished to connect [the concert audience], and he was open to a new, fresh and risky idea [me!].
How do the principles of Social Justice and Jazz inform my Management Consulting?
- Social justice – Following the First World War, the International Labour Organization began to use the term in its preamble: “peace can be established only if it is based on social justice”. Similarly, I firmly believe that a well managed organization can only stand well and achieve its mission if it takes on the commitment of social justice both within its organization, and for the citizens it pledges to serve.
- Jazz – My approach to management consulting, which I have used successfully now since 1980, is based on my philosophy that the values and principles of jazz are fundamental to building a successful organization. Jazz musicians review their performances to discover new ideas for interpreting the melodies. Their minds are constantly open to finding new ways of pleasing themselves and their audiences. Jazz requires continual negotiation and dialogue to create synchronization and alignment among all members of the team. It is essential to know what each musician does best and enjoys most – play to those strengths and spread the work out to those most suited to the task. Jazz musicians often just get together to jam, to explore ideas and test possibilities in conversation with each other. It’s an irrepressible inner drive that brings deep enjoyment. Jazz musicians are constantly testing new ways of seeing and doing things with the core melody they are playing together. This skill is the key to productive innovation. Perhaps Josh Linkner said it best in his article bout jazz and business – and I summarize his comments here:
- “Playing it safe gets you tossed off the stage”.
“There are no do-overs in live performances”.
“Listening to those around you is three times more important than what you play yourself”.
“There’s a time to stand out as a soloist and a time to support others and make them shine”.
“Expect surprises and adversity, since jazz (and life) is about how you respond and adapt”.
“Know your audience”.
“It’s always better leaving people wanting more, rather than less”.
“The best leaders are those that make others sound good”.
“Pattern recognition is easier than raw genius”.
“Shy musicians are starving artists”.
“Keeping it new and fresh is mandatory.”