Breathing together.

Some years ago Martin Jones, then of the AAR a body helping clients through the pitch process, wrote a thoughtful article on the learnings from receiving over 600 pitches. Essentially, he concluded that for the most part decisions were not based on track records, strategic insight or clever solutions.  They were influenced hugely by these three emotionally based concerns.

Do I  like these people? Do they like each other? How hungry are they for my business?

It is the second of these, ‘do they like each other’, which tends to be overlooked, on the assumption that as business colleagues a pitch team will be assumed to get on ok.  But is this enough when the client’s instincts are on high alert for the tiniest clues to help them arrive at the choosing of  a partner who may change their life.

It calls for more than well organised teamwork, with defined roles. It calls for a sense of oneness, a spirit of cohesion and sublime interplay. In sport we think Barcelona.  In music, think ensemble playing where the concept of breathing together is  everything.


They must understand instinctively the role of each instrument, trust and respect the  individual ensemble musicians and share a collective emotional sense of the music. It is not a mechanical process, it is one of  ‘breathing together’. It can produce magic.   Last week, after only 3 days practising together, the 20 strong Brillig ensemble produced a “captivating performance and a joie de vivre” – so much more than  than the output of mere teamwork.

(A TED talk by Eugene Lee discusses Leadership lessons from the Musical Ensemble.