Spandau Ballet

Like most Americans, music moves me.  Yes, even Spandau Ballet, the band that inspired me to craft this Monday Huddle Up (you younger folks can google them).  As I write this I’m flying over Texas on the way home from a week on the East Coast, and I’m listening to some of those old songs.
I fly nearly every week, and while on the plane I often draft reports, stock away Monday Huddle Ups, and just write.  Most often when I write while flying I listen to music from my MP3 player that I somehow managed to download to my laptop (I’m not sure how that happened, but there are some really old songs on my computer, but I digress).
The music influence in my life is pretty profound.  She probably doesn’t know this but a lot of it links back to my mom (a regular reader of the Monday Huddle Up). 
My mother was an accomplished pianist at a young age and we always had a piano in our house growing up.  She could play anything.  When I was young she played the Lone Ranger theme song for me, one of my favorite TV shows.  The entertainer was a good one.  Fur Elise is my favorite classical piece she played, so much so that I once even had it as the ring tone on my cell phone.  At our wedding, my wife chose the song we danced to and I got to choose the song for us to dance with our parents.  My mom asked me to send her the sheet music to the song I chose so she could play it and understand it.  That is a musician at heart.
I didn’t get the music gene, that is for sure.  While I can play segments of the entertainer, chopsticks, and the Pink Panther theme on the piano, a musician I am not.  I can usually shape a 7-iron shot (high, low, fade, draw) and I at one time could shoot the basketball a bit, but playing music is not my thing.  I’m pretty sure my son will go down that path, but this dad won’t be much of a help from a talent perspective.  All that said, music is still a big part of our family’s life today and I think for the generation to come.
Music moves people’s emotions in profound ways.  When we lead board retreats we have a list of ice breakers we use to open up communication between the participants.  Our most common opener uses music to get things rolling.
When we start these sessions, we go around the room and ask everyone to introduce themselves (chamber of commerce style) and say who they are, what they do, and WHY there are there.  Then we ask the fun stuff…..
What was the first concert you ever attended?
This usually invokes a funny story or two, and unites the group.  Facilitation of the meeting after this music intro is usually pretty easy for us.  The answers we get definitely lighten up the room, which sets the stage for a more open dialog over the next few hours (note: if you have a group of 18 or more, it’s likely that you will have a “match” on the first concert question).
How about you, what was your first concert?  Tuck that away for later, we will come back to that…..
After the first session of a retreat we take a break then come back with another icebreaker (actually two).  The first is right after they sit down for the second session.  Once they are settled in, we tell them they have to move.  They need a different perspective, and to not see things from the same seat or position they have been in all day to that point.  So we ask them to pick up their stuff and change seats with someone else.  The process each individual goes through to change seats can often tell us what individuals are aligned with one another, how they interact with the others in the room, who gets to a new seat quicker (usually the extroverts) and who takes longer (usually the analytical introverts).  Once all the movement has concluded, we ask them the second icebreaker question, which also relates to music.
What band have you seen the most times in person?
This question is a great one.  It tells you a LOT about each individual.  We have had buttoned-up business leaders answer with a rap musician, younger participants who are Grateful Dead fans (aka – “Deadheads”), and even one person who took an entire summer off from work to follow Jimmy Buffet around the country.  The old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” often applies here.
We suggest you try these tactics with one of your work groups.  Test it out and see how the power of music can unite a room full of individuals.  Of course, while we would rather you hire us to do this type of facilitating work, we encourage you to borrow our ideas here, just give us credit to the sports tourism gods when you get the chance.
In closing out this week’s Huddle Up, we would love to hear from you on the two musical icebreaker questions we posed above.  First concert, then the band you  have seen the most times in person.  Just to kick things off, you can find my answers at the link below:
Let us know how your musical icebreakers work out.  And if by some chance someone says “Spandau Ballet” you know good karma is headed your way.
Have a great week ahead!