Theme & Variations

An orchestral perspective on teams and leadership

The symphony orchestra has frequently been used as a metaphor for effective team working.  In 2003 the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra gave the first performance of Theme & Variations to members of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.  Since then the orchestra has performed Theme & Variations several times in Hull and York and most recently at the 2014 Yorkshire International Business Convention in Bridlington.

The performance takes the form of an illustrated lecture in which we demonstrate the four themes of the metaphor:

  • The composers score and how that might be regarded as a business plan
  • The sections of the orchestra and how they perform as a team
  • The conductor who represents the business leader, and
  • Rehearsals that are equivalent to training and development

Under the expert guidance of award winning conductor Andrew Penny, and international leadership consultant Ian Wilson, we explore how a symphony orchestra can change your thinking about the leadership and the management of teams.

Some members of the audience will actually get the chance to take up the baton and conduct the orchestra.  Other audience members will be invited to join the percussion section or play instruments to make their own unique contribution.  All audience members will experience the ultimate surround-sound effect, as they will actually be sitting inside the orchestra alongside the musicians.

This is what members of the audience said about the first Theme & Variations back in 2003:

“The metaphor of the orchestra as a team is a wonderful way of exploring effective teamwork and one which is stimulating as it involved many of the senses. During the event people felt immersed in the atmosphere created and experienced 'first hand' what it is like to be part of an effective team. Ian Wilson's experience as an HR Consultant and facilitator helped those participating in the event to relate the experience back to their own organisations.”

“Theme & Variations was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever attended.”

The event created such a big reaction that a few months later a major regional manufacturing company brought its board of directors and senior staff to learn from the same experience.

If you want your team to be effective:

Think Like an Orchestra

To find out more about Theme & Variations please contact Ian Wilson.

Email him at:    ian@hullphilharmonic.org

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