Creating Symphony within Jabil

The technological revolution of the fourth industrial age, with advancements of automation and artificial intelligence, is altering the workforce as we know it, and leaders need to know how to develop future talent.

As a Business Unit Director in the Jabil Healthcare division, I am regularly challenged by the need to keep customers happy, products profitable, and my team progressing. My side job also includes completing my doctorate in business leadership. During my studies, I learned about popular business ideas, such as technology acceleration, the future of workforces, and leadership. The demands of our industries will require workers to progress beyond their knowledge and understand the importance of being creative and working innovatively.

It’s a little like contributing to a “symphony,” according to Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind book, which I read for my doctoral classes. Daniel Pink uses the word symphony, which is an extended musical composition and often a classical music performance composed of diverse instruments, to illustrate how workers need to be holistic in their approach and contribute to the greater goal.

Here’s how that idea relates to creating a successful career:  

1.Learn to play more than one instrument

The first way that we can apply “symphony” to our work is by encouraging ourselves and others to play different instruments in the orchestra. When I first joined Jabil, I was a Technical Business Development Manager. As part of that role, I needed to know a lot about our capabilities, so when a customer came to me with a certain need, I knew where to find the solution. Using the symphony analogy, I knew who played what instrument in the company. Additionally, when I was looking for a change myself, I knew that I could seek out new positions in business, taking on another function in the company, and learning that there are plenty of “instruments to be played” in Jabil.

2.Practice smarter

We must foster an inclusive environment and encourage a learning organization, which means that gaining new knowledge is fundamental for business processes. In the symphony illustration, the role of the conductor in the orchestra is not just to lead the musicians during the main performance but also cultivate an open environment to practice, innovate, and progress every day. Similarly, leaders should empower their employees to learn from successes and failures, creating a learning cycle among their teams that produce actions and results. 

3.Listen to the whole orchestra

The purpose of having many unique instruments in an orchestra is not just to have many individual sounds, but rather to have these individual instruments produce music when played together. We first should learn to understand the intent of each instrument playing each note. One of the best ways that we do this within Jabil is through the Customer Value Map, and by using this, we can understand every piece of the customer’s business, including how their executives are driving their business metrics to how each function is facing challenges. It proves that we are not a single-player band, but that we collaborate and work with one another to serve our customers holistically.

4. Be flexible and adaptive

We need to cultivate a practice of saying yes to new things. In a symphony, if the key changes during a symphony, the musicians have to be ready to adapt quickly to keep the show going. This process of saying “yes” keeps us resilient when business becomes challenging.

5. Revel in the applause

The manufacturing industry is a tough one, but, we need to take the chances that we are given to enjoy our successes and have fun at work! Our work is about more than what symphony we play, but the concerts we’re a part of should bring us great satisfaction.

Download Cheryl's full research article on this topic here.

Cheryl Goodwin
Article Contributed By:
Cheryl Goodwin
Business Unit Director

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