It would appear that there isn't anything you can't learn from Conductors. Following my earlier post about Benjamin Zander I beg anyone in a management position to watch this talk by Itay Talgam.
When he gave this presentation at Picnic08 the conference saw its first ever standing ovation, whilst Al Gore has described it as the best management talk he'd ever seen. In this instance music makes a great metaphor with the conductor's role in managing an orchestra providing many lessons for anyone that manages a team.
There are some incredible clips of many great conductors, but one in particular of Leonard Bernstein talking to a group of young students really struck a chord. He clearly has a magnificent presence and makes a huge impact in both how he speaks and what he conveys to he orchestra through physical performance. He empowers the musicians by telling them "Your world is larger than you think'. As a true leader he helps them get an understanding of not where they are but where they can be. For me this is the greatest skill you could wish for as a manager and one my former boss Dan Heaf had in abundance.
On Tuesday I went over to the Media Center to give a 'Masterclass' to some TV people. I was talking about Shoot The Summer to anyone with an interest in UGC and mobile. After my talk a couple of guys currently making a youth orientated show using mobiles stopped behind to chat about how I got the best out of the audience. I couldn't express enough how important it was for me to spend some time with the people before I gave out the phones. In some cases I know that they wanted to capture something really good for me because they were so happy I had shown any interest in them, bothered to spend some time with them and even struck up a friendship. When I told one festival goer that I found him far more interesting than any DJ or artist I's spoken to that weekend he cried. He just couldn't believe that he could be of interest to anyone from the BBC. For one moment I'd made his world much larger than he ever thought it could be.
What was interesting about the guys making the TV show was that when I asked them what was the aim of the project they said "To get as many people as possible to send in their videos". When I asked them "why as many people as possible" they had no answer. It seems like the first rule of UGC is 'more = better'. For me the opposite was true in making Shoot The Summer. The 'less = better' rule allowed me the time and space to meet the people and make their world feel larger.
Managing UGC and the people that create it is something we need to master and understanding how to strike the right balance between control and freedom will be a huge challenge. I think that in trying to find the answer I'll spend more time with some conductors. What they don't know you could write on the back of a fag packet.