Are you in a groove or a rut? How music supports organizational resilience. Virtually every team knows what it feels like to be in a rut: same-old same-old, with little sense of creativity or satisfaction. What if you could transform a rut into a groove — that state musicians enter when they’re really in synch, inspired, and inspiring? Orchestrating Excellence’s recent work with HopeLab proves it is possible to use music to provoke, engage, and inspire workplace learning and positive change. What’s the difference between a groove and a rut? A groove is alive. Like learning, practice, and developing mastery, grooves involve repetition — but not sameness. Each iteration varies from the core pattern or theme and is infused with awareness, intelligence, feeling, and wisdom. We want to dance or sway or tap our feet to music that grooves. It resonates with our nervous system and strikes a sympathetic chord inside. Groove = flow, adaptation, and resilience. A rut is stuck. Ruts also involve repetition, but where a groove feels alive, a rut is rote. In a rut, you’re unaware, on autopilot. It leads to burn out and a loss of meaning and connection. We disengage because it’s boring. Rut = lack of engagement. How can we apply this understanding to the workplace? Our work with HopeLab offers an example. Above: Participants at HopeLab take part in Orchestrating Excellence’s Navigating the Rhythms of Change Workshop as a part of its staff development day. Photo credit: Tracy Wong Orchestrating Excellence recently explored Navigating the Rhythms of Change with HopeLab, an innovative enterprise based in Redwood City, California that explores the intersection of wellness, resilience, community, and technology. HopeLab has developed some great thinking about how to rebound from adversity, challenge, and stress. Their framework holds that resilience is comprised of three factors: meaning, connection, and control. HopeLab approached Orchestrating Excellence to design a workshop exploring individual and organizational resilience through music. We customized a hands-on music-making and reflective learning process that took HopeLab’s entire team (30 people) through four distinct phases of music making to gain new insights into how change, collaboration (teamwork), and resilience are interrelated. The four different phases are: orchestration (structure), chaos (complexity), composition (collaboration), and improvisation (high performance and resilience). The experience was immersive and visceral, engaging participants intellectually, emotionally, and physically. You can read about what they learned and what it was like on their cool blog. “Orchestrating Excellence expertly guided us in an active and reflective inquiry that left a lasting mark on us all. We left the session in a definite groove and one that will impact our work together for months, if not, years to come. I was moved by the skill of the musicians, the openness of my colleagues, and the truly beautiful experience we created together.” – Chris Murchison, HopeLab VP for Staff Development, Learning and Innovation What can we learn from HopeLab? A new way to groove … I believe this kind of integrated learning represents a new model for leadership that blends head (thinking and vision), heart (emotional resonance and empathy), and body (intuition and sensory awareness). Besides providing the fun, uplifting, experiential learning programs for which we’re known, it’s this deeper integration of growth, learning, change and substantive ideas that keeps me excited about Orchestrating Excellence’s evolution after 26 years. And, that’s how I guard against falling into a rut. I know that if I am not at my learning edge, the winds of change will come to shake things up for me. “Watching how people responded and all of the laughter that followed was illuminating. Peoples’ personalities surfaced so easily in the different music making phases giving me deeper insights into how my co-workers respond to situations that are highly structured as well as ones that are more open-ended and chaotic.” — Heather Regan, HopeLab VP of Product Is your team in need of fresh insights, inspiration, and a higher level of collaboration and effectiveness? During summer and fall teams converge for business meetings, leadership development programs, staff development off-sites, and departmental retreats. While by necessity these cover the usual (and frequently staid) topics, leaders and managers also look for creative ways to engage, energize, and inspire employees at all levels to help their teams get out of a rut or beyond a plateau and into a groove. And that leads to happier employees, more resilient teams, and better performance outcomes. View a video example of a Orchestrating Excellence program with 120 IT (engineering) leaders forming a cohesive sounding percussion orchestra as they learn to become better listeners, leaders, collaborators, and improvisers. About Orchestrating Excellence. Gary Muszynski is the Chief Engagement Officer of Orchestrating Excellence, a global training and development company that uses music, stories, and improv to help leaders and teams achieve breakthrough thinking and performance. In addition to serving organizations such as Cisco, Wells Fargo, Kaiser, Pixar, Hilton Hotels, Walmart, Genentech, Disney, HK Strategies, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Gary has presented his ideas and experiences about leadership, collaboration, and innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Center for Creative Leadership, Fast Company, Apple University, the Institute for the Future, and the Kennedy Center. Orchestrating Excellence’s facilitators are a team of diverse, world-class musicians who perform with Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Huey Lewis and the News, and Phil Lesh’s band, Furthur. Orchestrating Excellence has reached over 100,000 people in organizations and conference settings globally over the past 26 years.