Music, business and transformation

Music, business and transformation

In this series of articles, I plan to serialise and augment my 2016 book “The Music of Business”.  The book examines parallel insights on business leadership through the twin lenses of MBA thinking augmented by insights from the field of music, for an “ADHD society”, where people want fast answers to complex problems.

Music is applied science.  If we want to understand transformation, study the science of art and the art of science.

In this “prologue” I will set out the case as to why this unusual cocktail offers better insights to familiar problems in the 4th industrial age.  We offer Business and Music masterclasses on a worldwide basis for full immersion in the topic.  A limited edition of The Music of Business book is available direct from author’s basement studio … just contact me.

The Music of Business

Science and the arts are “separated at birth” through our education system, yet it is clear that some of the greatest science has been conceived through the arts and vice versa.

For example, the periodic table of the elements was originally conceived from the idea of musical octaves.  My great passion is to break down these artificial divisions as these are where the sweet spots of great thinking and doing occur.  Transformation also exists at the nexus of original thinking and painstaking execution.

For 20 years now, I have written, spoken and consulted on the parallels between the business universe and the world of music, be it rock, jazz, classical etc. This follows my much longer involvement with three passions: Science, Business and Music.

“The Music of Business” brings together a set of bite-sized articles to provoke and inspire you to think and act differently about a number of business transformation topics, in ways that are better than the usual fare.

In short, a rapid digest of MBA level business wisdom without all the MBA jargon.  It’s not that the MBA speak is undesirable or impure.  After all I have an MBA.  I also respect academic thinking on business, having taught MBAs for many years at a Business School.

It’s just that the so-called professional lexicon of MBAs does not always communicate.  After all, great business leadership is all about clear and concise communications!  Some tasters of our menu are included below.


Although this framing post is setting the context for the main articles, I offer a sneak preview into the business of transformation from the point of view of music.


In the field of music, artists like David Bowie, Madonna, Queen, The Beatles and Prince et al stand out from the crowd, in so far that they have transformed themselves, kept their audiences and developed new ones over an extended period.

Many music artists are creatures of habit in so far as they stay well within their genres, in some cases almost repeating themselves into the process.  Artists such as AC / DC, The Rolling Stones, U2 etc. have essentially done what Tom Peters calls “sticking to the knitting”.  Whilst there is nothing wrong with this as clearly these artists have been massively successful.

However, it is unlikely they would have succeeded so well in a disruptive environment where the half-life of an artist is in decline.  Most 21st Century music artists now think about an entire portfolio to sustain their career.

The relevant parallel here for enterprises is the idea of changing your core business offering, keeping your audience and building new ones to keep yourself alive. The half-life of businesses is also in decline and the message of “adapt or die” has never been more relevant for businesses.

In future articles, we will examine adaptive artists with transferable lessons for sustainable businesses.


Agile Consultation

In 25 + years of worldwide business consulting I would “name and fame” companies like Virgin, Unilever, 3M, Goldfields and Stora as world class examples who get the idea of becoming adaptive, agile and resilient enterprises.

In a world where machines will do much of our basic analytical work and we require more intelligence and creativity from people, questions of transformation, leadership and motivation have never been more important.

I am presently engaged in writing the sequel to The Music of Business.  You might like to join me in writing the text for these in a global crowdsourced collaboration on transformation.

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