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Effectively executing Right

by | Feb 12, 2022 | Benny Goodman, execute, Right vs Effective

execution always balances Right and Effective

Sitting in the conference room waiting, I was nervous about what was about to happen. The experiment had been a success, and we should be celebrating as a group, an Effective use of all of the talents of the team. Sadly, I had jumped the gun and helped get attention through my friends in communications, and now they wanted to feature the team in an upcoming publication. Sadly, it was not the Right thing to do, and the rest of the team was furious with me, particularly the group that was supposed to be “in charge”. And, my boss had accompanied me up to be confronted and what I thought would be an execution by the other members of the team…

… many years later, I can’t exactly remember what it was that I did, but I distinctly remember the trip up and back, and the 2 hours in that conference room. Up close and personal, I had to listen to the hurt my actions had caused these team members. Now I know that I had been Right in pushing this whole thing together, but clearly, I was not Effective in understanding the real people that I had run over in getting it done. And, my boss at the time, knew the Right way to get my attention, and ensure that I had to Effectively own my actions. It was the expressions on their faces, the hurt that I could see and hear, and the clear frustration of how had this amazing experience have ended so badly?

The Right stage for Effective execution

There was one last bastion of American culture for Benny to conquer – the temple of “proper” classical music – Carnegie Hall. An acoustically perfect theater, it was never “soiled” by the common music of jazz. In late 1937, Goodman’s publicist, Wynn Nathanson, suggested that Goodman and his band should play Carnegie Hall in New York City. If such a concert were to take place, then Goodman would be the first jazz bandleader to perform at Carnegie Hall. Benny was initially hesitant about the concert, fearing for the worst. However, when his film, Hollywood Hotel, opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work. He gave up several dates and insisted on holding rehearsals inside Carnegie Hall to familiarize the band with the lively acoustics.

No one thought it would really amount to much, even though it sold out weeks in advance. It was not just Goodman, but featured most of the leading artists of the time: a Dixieland Quartet and members of Count Basie and Duke Ellington’s band. Of course the Trio, Quartet, and Quintet performed on stage, again marking the occasion of a mixed-race band on stage together. Harry James after his performance quipped about playing in the hallowed halls, “I feel like a whore in church”.

It is amazing we even have a recording of the event, as they were an afterthought. Recorded onto acetate and another onto metal plates, they were given to Benny as a gift afterward and were lost until 1950 when… wait for it… John Hammond discovered their existence and insisted on mastering them onto LP’s. The metal disks were later used to master the CD’s for this must-hear recording, and the YouTube link today will take you to a great recording of the whole evening.

You can feel Right being executed

Pay special attention to the first song. Benny was extremely nervous, and you can hear it in the band. They were very tight, but not playing well. Krupa, recognizing it, takes a rip-roaring solo run, and then coming out of that you can hear him cheering the band on. The bass drum keeps getting louder and louder, with the band, and then the audience feeling it, by the end of the song they are ripping. It is a reminder of when Krupa also helped Benny make it into stardom at the Palomar only a few years earlier.

Krupa’s drums remind me of how it felt that day… and not in a mean way. I really deserved to be called onto the carpet. I would return to the lessons learned at IBM again over the remainder of my career, slowly getting better, but sadly there are few more of these “woodshed” moments. It is probably why I spend so much time now focused on teaching others how important feedback is for overall performance and execution. You MUST be Effective at it if you want to get the Right results.

executing the balance between Right, Effective, and People

There is always a fine balance between 3 things – creative people who have great ideas, those who are Effective at executing them, and then who is Right to get credit. Good organizations realize ALL three are needed and find ways to blend these very different types together into teams with rhythm and harmony. Most teams are biased one way or another… and mostly that is towards execution. The issue there is innovation and people who want to do new things end up like me – locked in a conference room because we didn’t do it Right. I was thick-headed enough to need to plow through this lesson a few more times. For you… listen to the power of Krupa… and Don’t Be That Way!

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