Team Management Tips from the World of Jazz

Have you ever wondered what jazz music and management have in common? Jazz is a musical genre that originated in the African American communities of New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is characterised by improvisation, syncopation, swing, and complex harmonies. Jazz musicians often play in small groups, where they communicate and collaborate with each other to create spontaneous and expressive music.

Management, on the other hand, is the process of planning, organising, leading, and controlling the work of a group of people to achieve a common goal. Managers often work in teams, where they communicate and coordinate with their subordinates, peers, and superiors to execute tasks and projects.

While these two fields may seem vastly different, they actually share some similarities and principles that can help managers improve their performance and effectiveness. Here are some management techniques and leadership styles that you can learn from jazz musicians:

How to Manage Your Team Like a Jazz Musician

  1. Be Flexible and Adaptable

One of the key features of jazz music is improvisation, which means creating or performing something without preparation or a fixed plan. Jazz musicians improvise by using their knowledge, skills, and creativity to respond to the changing musical situation and the interactions with their fellow musicians. They also adapt to the audience, the venue, and the mood of the moment.

Similarly, managers need to be flexible and adaptable in their work environment, which is often dynamic and unpredictable. Managers need to improvise by using their resources, abilities, and innovation to solve problems and seize opportunities. They also need to adapt to the needs, expectations, and feedback of their stakeholders, such as customers, employees, and partners.

  • Hands – on exercise: To practice flexibility and adaptability, you can ask your team to brainstorm solutions for a hypothetical scenario that changes every few minutes. For example, you can start with a scenario like “Your team has to deliver a project to a client by tomorrow, but your main server is down.” Then, after a few minutes, you can add a twist like “The client has changed the requirements and wants a different feature.” You can keep changing the scenario and see how your team adapts and improvises.
  1. Listen and Communicate Effectively

Another important aspect of jazz music is communication, which means exchanging information and ideas with others. Jazz musicians communicate with each other through verbal and non-verbal cues, such as eye contact, body language, and musical signals. They listen attentively to each other’s playing and adjust their own accordingly. They also communicate with the audience, by engaging them, acknowledging them, and inviting them to participate.

How to Manage Your Team Like a Jazz Musician

Likewise, managers need to listen and communicate effectively with their team members and other parties. Managers need to communicate clearly and concisely their goals, expectations, and feedback. They need to listen actively and empathetically to their team’s input, concerns, and suggestions. They also need to communicate with their customers, by understanding their needs, delivering value, and building relationships.

  • Hands – on exercise: To practice listening and communication, you can ask your team to play a game called “Yes, and…” This is a game where one person starts a sentence with “Yes, and…” and then adds something related to the topic. The next person has to repeat the sentence and add something else with “Yes, and…” The game continues until everyone has contributed something. For example, if the topic is “How to improve customer satisfaction”, the game could go like this: “Yes, and we can ask for feedback after every interaction.” “Yes, and we can offer incentives for referrals.” “Yes, and we can follow up with thank-you notes.” This game helps your team to listen actively, build on each other’s ideas, and communicate positively.

3. Be Collaborative and Supportive

Another essential element of jazz music is collaboration, which means working together with others to achieve a common purpose. Jazz musicians collaborate with each other by sharing roles, responsibilities, and resources. They support each other by giving space, encouragement, and recognition. They also collaborate with other artists, by learning from them, joining them, and creating with them.

How to Manage Your Team Like a Jazz Musician

Similarly, managers need to be collaborative and supportive with their team members and other colleagues. Managers need to collaborate with their team by delegating tasks, empowering decisions, and facilitating processes. They need to support their team by providing guidance, feedback, and recognition. They also need to collaborate with other managers, by sharing best practices, aligning strategies, and creating synergies.

  • Hands – on exercise: To practice collaboration and support, you can ask your team to form small groups and create a short musical piece using whatever instruments or objects they have. For example, they can use pens, cups, keyboards, or phones as instruments. They have to assign roles, share resources, and support each other to create a coherent and harmonious piece. They also have to present their piece to the rest of the team and explain how they collaborated and supported each other. This exercise helps your team to work together, appreciate each other’s strengths, and recognize each other’s contributions.

Conclusion

Jazz music and management may seem like two different worlds, but they actually have a lot in common. By applying some of the techniques and styles of jazz musicians, managers can enhance their skills and abilities to lead and manage their teams more effectively and efficiently. So, the next time you listen to jazz music, pay attention to how the musicians improvise, communicate, and collaborate with each other, and see if you can learn something from them. You may be surprised by how much jazz can teach you about management. 🎶

 

Further reading

Introduction to Management – 3 Skills For New Managers

Team development

Power BI – What is DAX?

Welcome to the world of data visualisation and analysis with Power BI! In this blog, we’ll dive into the heart of Power BI’s analytical capabilities: DAX measures.

DAX, or Data Analysis eXpressions, is a powerful formula language that enables users to define custom calculations in Power BI reports. Whether you’re a seasoned data analyst or just starting out, understanding DAX measures is key to unlocking insightful business intelligence. Power BI – What is DAX?

So, let’s explore some of the most popular measures, array functions, and time-intelligence functions, and see how they can transform raw data into meaningful insights.

Power BI – What is DAX?
Calculate Measure

Some often-used Power BI DAX measures include:

  1. SUM: calculates the sum of a selected column of data
  2. AVERAGE: calculates the average of a selected column of data
  3. COUNT: counts the number of rows in a selected column of data
  4. MIN/MAX: calculates the minimum or maximum value in a selected column of data
  5. DISTINCTCOUNT: counts the number of unique values in a selected column of data
  6. CALCULATE: modifies the context within which a DAX formula is evaluated
  7. FILTER: filters a table based on specific criteria
  8. RANKX: ranks values in a selected column of data
  9. YEAR/QUARTER/MONTH: extracts various time periods from a date column in a table

DAX measures allow users to perform complex calculations and analysis on their data quickly and effectively, providing valuable insights into trends and patterns in their data.

Array functions

Many measures in Power BI desktop need to be array measure, because of the data model structure in a Power BI model.

One of the powerful features in DAX is this ability to create array measures, which are measures that return an array of values instead of a single value. This can also be complicated for users, who haven’t been working with data cubs.

Here are some examples of DAX array measures:

1. DISTINCTCOUNT function:

DISTINCTCOUNT returns the number of distinct values in a column or expression. When used in an array formula, it returns a list of distinct counts for each value in another column.

For example, the following DAX formula returns an array of distinct count values for the “Product” column:

= DISTINCTCOUNT(Products[Product])

2. FILTER function:

FILTER returns a table that meets certain criteria specified in the expression. When used in an array formula, it returns a list of filtered tables for each value in another column.

For example, the following DAX formula returns an array of filtered tables for each value in the “Category” column:

= FILTER(Products, Products[Category] = EARLIER(Products[Category]))

3. VALUES function:

VALUES returns a table of unique values in a column or expression. When used in an array formula, it returns a list of unique values for each value in another column.

For example, the following DAX formula returns an array of unique values for each value in the “Category” column:

= VALUES(Products[Category])

4. SUMX function:

SUMX returns the sum of an expression for each row of a table. When used in an array formula, it returns a list of sum values for each value in another column.

For example, the following DAX formula returns an array of sum values for each value in the “Product” column:

= SUMX(Products, Products[Price])

Array measures are a powerful way to analyse data and gain insights from multiple dimensions at once. With DAX, you can build complex array formulas that can handle large amounts of data and answer specific business questions.

1. Sum of Sales by Year:

SUMX(

GROUPBY(Sales, Sales[Year], “SalesByYear”, SUM(Sales[Amount])),

SalesByYear

)

This formula groups sales by year and calculates the sum of sales amount for each year.

2. Average Sales per Customer:

AVERAGEX(

GROUPBY(Sales, Sales[CustomerID], “SalesByCustomer”, SUM(Sales[Amount])),

SalesByCustomer

)

This formula groups sales by customer ID and calculates the sum of sales amount for each customer. Then, it takes the average of all the customer sales.

3. Last Sale Date for Each Customer:

MAXX(

GROUPBY(Sales, Sales[CustomerID], “LastSaleByCustomer”, MAX(Sales[Date])),

LastSaleByCustomer

)

This formula groups sales by customer ID and finds the maximum date of sales for each customer, which represents the last sale date for that customer.

4. Sales Growth Rate by Month:

DIVIDE(

SUM(Sales[Amount]),

CALCULATE(SUM(Sales[Amount]), DATEADD(Sales[Date], -1, MONTH)),

BLANK()

) – 1

This formula calculates the growth rate of sales from the previous month. It uses the DIVIDE function to divide the total sales amount by the total sales amount from the previous month. Then, it subtracts 1 to get the growth rate percentage.

5. Running Total of Sales by Month:

CALCULATE(

SUM(Sales[Amount]),

FILTER(

ALL(Sales),

Sales[Date] <= MAX(Sales[Date])

)

)

This formula calculates the running total of sales by month. It uses the CALCULATE function to add up the sales amount for all dates that are less than or equal to the maximum date in the current filter context. The FILTER function is used to remove any filters on the date column that might interfere with the running total calculation.

Time-intelligence functions

DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) Time-intelligence functions allow users to analyse data over time, providing insights into key trends and patterns.

Some common DAX Time-intelligence functions include:

  1. TOTALYTD: This function returns the total value of a given measure from the beginning of the year up to the selected date.
  2. TOTALQTD: This function returns the total value of a given measure from the beginning of the quarter up to the selected date.
  3. TOTALMTD: This function returns the total value of a given measure from the beginning of the month up to the selected date.
  4. SAMEPERIODLASTYEAR: This function returns the total value of a given measure for the same period last year.
  5. DATESYTD: This function generates a table with all the dates within the current year up to the selected date.
  6. DATEQTD: This function generates a table with all the dates within the current quarter up to the selected date.
  7. DATEADD: This function adds a specified number of units to a given date.

Example: DATEADD Returns a table that contains a column of dates, shifted either forward or backward in time by the specified number of intervals from the dates, in the current context.

Syntax: =DATEADD(<Dates>,<Number of intervals>,<Interval>)

where the <Interval> can either be Year, Month, Quarter or Day

Power BI – What is DAX?

These functions can be used in combination with other DAX functions to create more complex analyses and visualisations.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our exploration of DAX measures in Power BI, it’s clear that these tools are indispensable for any data professional. From calculating simple sums to performing complex time-based analyses, DAX measures empower us to make data-driven decisions with confidence.

We encourage you to experiment with the examples provided and discover the full potential of DAX in your own business scenarios. Remember, the power of data is at your fingertips, and with Power BI and DAX, there’s no limit to the insights you can uncover!

Further Reading

Power BI –Power Query M functions versus DAX

How Power BI Can Change Your Business