Corporate Learning at a Band Contest?!!

Butlins Contest

Butlins Contest

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Butlins Mineworkers Brass Band Contest held in chilly Skegness!

This post though isn’t about the music but more about the contest as a metaphor for what we in Corporate Learning teams are trying to do.

A band, like an Orchestra, consists of a number of different sections, all of which need to work together to achieve the best performance. But, like any Corporate, they need direction. And that direction will vary depending on the man in the middle – think of the Musical Director/Conductor as a CLO (Chief Learning Officer), directing the different divisions to work together towards the central goal. In the case of the band performance, that goal is simple: Perform the musical work according to the interpretation that the MD is giving. If only all goal setting was as clear!

The history of the brass band in the UK is interesting – band players would have traditionally been less likely to attend a music college or university (although that has of course changed) and one of the ways they developed was by healthy competition, hence the concept of the brass band contest. For bands though, there is just the one performance assessment – and inevitably, there is much discussion after the event as to whether or not the judge was right. Some people do go for a 360 assessment and these were much discussed in the bars of Butlins over that weekend!

On this occasion, I was there as a performer with my good friends of Brighton & Hove City Brass but as a conductor myself, I have prepared bands for many such competitions. Whilst musical ability is clearly a core competency, when working with amateur players, you also have to be a great communicator, motivator and leader. Indeed, there are some great conductors whose musicals skills are not as good as their leadership skills. (did your CLO come from an L&D or HR background?)

This was truly a weekend of great teamwork – be that in the rehearsals, the final performance or the post contest activities. My thanks to Matthew and the team for the opportunity to work with them at this event.

There are some interesting comments here on further musical metaphors.

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