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  • What two French guitarists can teach us

    September 23, 2017 | Teamwork
  • Talk about effective collaboration! I had the great privilege yesterday of hearing the guitar duo Antoine Boyer and Samuelito at the marvelous DjangoFest Northwest on Whidbey Island. In front of a packed house these two young and wiry Frenchmen sat side by side on the stage in utter relaxation and played their fusion of flamenco and gypsy jazz with both passion and precision. Their perfectly executed unison riffs moved with perfect ease from swinging to bluesy to soulful. Then one would take a solo, etching an unforgettable line of flamenco passion or Django-inspired twang into the rhythmic density of the other’s chordal accompaniment. They smiled at the audience and each other, confident in their profound musical gift, effortless, but also somehow as amazed and delighted as the audience was at what was unfolding.

    This clip captures some (but only some) of their wondrous partnership:

    Musical collaboration at any level is a poignant reminder of how it feels to be working together in a harmonious way. I sing in a local no-audition community chorus, and while the quality of the music can be variable the profound sense of joy and satisfaction is always there. It’s always a deeply healing experience!

    That sense of connectedness is, in my experience, far more difficult to achieve amidst the much greater complexity of collaborative technology delivery. But there are moments (I can name a few in my career and I’m sure you can too) when magic does happen, the synergy locks in and what results is truly amazing. This is the experience we are aiming for; this is what makes it all worthwhile.

    Antoine Boyer and Samuelito offer the wonderful gift of a vision of what true connected collaboration can look, feel, and sound like. We won’t have that experience every day, given the shifts, pressures, complexity and challenges of the work we do. But with the right mindset and the right skills, we can certainly get there more often.

    Watching this guitar duo create their works of astonishing beauty, we are seeing the fruit of many long hours putting the basic skills in place.  In the multidimensional fluidity of technology work, we have our own skills to develop: technical and process skills, certainly, but just as important are the human skills that help us maintain our equilibrium and make good decisions when things get tough. In the class on mindfulness I’m teaching this week, I compare meditation practice to musical exercises like scales and arpeggios (sports training is a good analogy too). In upcoming classes we’ll be looking at other skill sets: for handling emotions, managing change, working in teams and using language consciously. With a commitment to developing these skills – and holding each other accountable for developing them – technology delivery can be a thing of beauty. Just like a jazz guitarist and a flamenco guitarist who show us the magic of working together.