The Job of C

I’ve been watching – and rewatching – a TED talk from Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and co-author of one of my favorite books, “The Art of Possibility”.

In the talk, Zander explores Chopin as a vehicle for conversations about leadership, vision and engagement. Sitting at a piano, he deconstructs the piece a bit. In doing so, Zander notes that a B note is followed by a C note, and asks why.

“The job,” he says succinctly, “of the C is to make the B sad.”

I happened to be watching Zander’s talk during a week when I was asking a client group to engage in an uncomfortable, but important, process. It certainly wasn’t my job to make the group sad, but it was my job – as I saw it – to push them toward the inner edge of their discomfort in service to a good strategic plan.

It happens that our jobs with our clients are always a little different – nothing quite as cut-and-dry as simply making the B sad. But knowing what job each clients needs us to complete, the role each engagement needs us to play, sure makes our work flow better.