Alex is a GameShift Thinking Partner.
You’ll often see him on the piano fronting a jazz band. He comes from a musical family – and grew up to be a multi-instrumentalist who is brilliant at applying the lessons of jazz improvisation to complex organisational challenges. Alex has led a double life for many years, helping teams and organisations by day, as a consultant, coach and educator, and playing piano in jazz clubs by night. His fusion of both worlds creates so many fascinating insights into how improvisational mindsets and behaviours can stimulate creativity, innovation and collaboration in organisations.
“Jazz as an artform is always shifting” says Alex. “It keeps on changing. It’s because jazz musicians have a willingness to break things, to re-invent, and we’re good at letting go and finding new ways of doing things – always with the intent of finding value and beauty in the music we play. The ability to do that in organisations can lead to some brilliant and unexpected ways of working.”
In between the jazz gigs, Alex trained in his early career as an environmental scientist and sustainability practitioner. Today he continues to work in this area, with a particular focus on community development and supporting social entrepreneurship in countries including Uganda, Kenya, Bangladesh, Colombia and Venezuela. “My background in sustainability gives me some brilliant perspectives on human behaviour and systems thinking” he says, “but it’s the fusion of sustainability thinking with a deep understanding of improvisational behaviours which helps me to work with others to bring about some really radical changes in communities and organisations. Our work which links live jazz performance, improvisation, and organisational development practice is a beautiful blend of current thinking and new research in areas of behavioural change, organisational psychology and neuroscience. It’s an amazing area of work, blending arts and sciences, and I’m always astonished at the incredible impact these ideas and practices have on the way that organisations change and innovate.”
What drives Alex? “Helping people to be fully alive, to let go of habits and autopilot, and to be open to new ways of living and working” he says. “At the heart of our jazz and organisational work, it’s all about what it means to be a great human being, the way we treat others, the way we treat ourselves, how we listen, and our ability to create and embrace change. It’s also about building a culture of curiosity and experimentation. It takes a special outlook on the world to do that, and the ability to take a journey through the minds of a group of improvising jazz musicians, working in a real space (or a virtual space) with jazz musicians, interacting with them, controlling and disrupting the music in real-time, creates a really unique and novel learning experience.”
Alex loves being part of our team of Thinking Partners because bringing his work into organisations brings people more fully alive in their work – as he says “I love seeing people coming together to take part in these jazz experiments and to experience these novel ways of sensing each other, finding surprising ways of engaging with uncertainty and ambiguity, in ways which create unexpected change and transformation in organisations. It’s always a joy to be part of these unique experiments.”
That’s what makes Alex such a great GameShift colleague. A brilliant explorer, who brings energy and insight and helps people everywhere make the most of both their common ground and their differences.
If you’d like Alex alongside you to breathe more life into a strategic change or challenge, call us.
GameShift. Your Thinking Partner.