‘ME’ and ‘WE’ – The Superpower of Jazz Band

What is wrong with ‘ME’? Why should we move from ‘ME’ to ‘WE’?

Today individualism at its hight. One of the most prevalent examples of it let’s say the Selfie. Many articles were written about that one of the main cultural causes of the 2008/2009 financial crisis was the key actors’ self-centredness, ego driven, careless attitude driven by feeding their own enrichment and entitlement.  I am talking about the ‘ME’ or ‘ME first’ culture in business. So those many who thought the only way to move away from this and regain trust is to create and focus on the ‘WE’ instead of ‘ME’. They rightly emphasized the importance of serving others, putting the common goals ahead of their individual goals, looking at the bigger picture and realizing the very impact of their actions and words on the greater society. Going from ‘ME’ to ‘WE’ is all about understanding that the end result matters most, not who did what and who gets credit. By placing success on what the team as a whole does, members will be more inclined to think with a team mentality and be supportive of other members. I like this direction, but…… 

How ‘ME’ can fit into ‘WE’?

"Each bird must sing with his own throat." Henrik Ibsen

We are all individual characters, unique, one of a kind. Our imperfections make us perfect. Our perception is particular why we should give up and meld them into the cauldron of ‘WE’? How we can keep ‘ME’ strong and still fit into ‘WE’? Frankly speaking I fully agree with the ‘WE’ culture when it comes to building something greater, being part of society, embracing diversity and reaching the highest level of performance. That is the only way of tackling complex challenges in the today’s world. But I don’t think we should be giving up on the unique power of ‘ME’. Then what?

The superpower of Jazz Band

When I was reading the book of Creativity Leap from Natalie Nixon, I came across with the example of a Jazz Band for a fluid structure which helps to create an environment with right conditions for improvisation and innovation aka creativity in a team. What I realized here and therefore, I think this example is brilliant, in a Jazz Band:

  • there is a small group of talented people
  • they play by their distinctive strengths and by their passion (that is the very reason they picked the instrument they play on)
  • there are some rules set by the band which provides less rigid, more fluid framework
  • everyone has an opportunity to play solo, be in the centre
  • when someone playing the solo the rest of the team accompany the soloist by playing along, turning the spot light onto the soloist
  • always the soloist leads the tune the rest follows then they rotate
  • everyone has an opportunity to shine, to show the audience their genius, their uniqueness while the others follow and support whole-heartedly

So, the Jazz Band is the most beautiful and powerful example of how individualist, unique, one of the kinds ‘ME’ can be equal partner with the harmonious, humble, service minded ‘WE’. I was so pleased to find this analogue as I feel there is no need to have ‘ME’ dissolve into ‘WE’, they can be together, live together, thrive together and still get the perfect harmony and achieve great results together.

  • How can you create your own Jazz Band within your leadership team?
  • Does everyone play by their distinctive strengths?
  • Does everyone have an opportunity to play solo?
  • Does the rest of your team humbly and supportively accompany the soloist?


Source: Creativity Leap by Natalie Dixon

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