There are really two stories to explain this: one personal and one historical.
The personal story
Carl grew up in a home infused with artistic expression. His mother, Sidsel Paaske (1937-1980), was among Norway’s first exponents of pop art. Growing up among prominent musicians, painters, poets and actors Carl found encouragement and inspiration to to pursue his interests in the arts in general and jazz in particular.
After Carl earned degrees from leading institutions within music and business, he worked as a musician, arts manager, entrepreneur, consultant, and marketing executive. Observing organizational life, it occurred to him that many of the skills he had acquired in jazz also applied to leadership and management. Specifically, he noticed that effective managers — and jazz pioneers such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane — were able to overcome, indeed capitalize on, complexity through radical simplification.
This insight led to a Harvard Business School case as well as lectures at INSEAD, London Business School, and other pre-eminent institutions. It also led to the development of a hugely popular performance format, in which Carl assembles three-four world-class jazz musicians (including himself) who have — typically — never played together before.
The combined concert/lecture series has given thousands of leaders a unique combination of entertainment, education (on both jazz and leadership) and food for thought.
The combination of creativity, collaboration, and flawless coordination that these leaders observe is called “The Jazz code,” a series of principles that allow high-performing individuals achieve inspiring results under changing conditions and constant time pressure.
Jazz emerged and evolved as a distinct art form in parallel with, and arguably in conjunction with, the most important societal and economic transitions of the 20th century.
It defied Jim Crow and racism in the early 20th century, lended its name to the excesses of the 1920s, created sunlight during the Depression of the 1930s, became a form of protest in Nazi-occupied countries, promoted recorded music and radio for the mass market, broke one societal barrier after the other, promoted a global culture, and pioneered the open source movement.
Jazz is able to hold the concept of standards and improvisation, of big bands and ensembles, close coordination and solo performances. It gives its audience the gift of recognition and uniqueness at the same time. It generates and overcomes enormous complexity, being an art form of deep theory grounded in practice, practice, practice.
It has provided the most diverse, and often the most eccentric individuals with a meritocracy that has promoted some of the greatest musical geniuses of our time. It has influenced, and been influenced by, virtually every other musical form.
And it all happens when a few people get together and decide to make music.
We think that jazz in many ways provides the model for the future of work, for the way humans apply distinctive human capabilities in the evolving post-industrial era. Just as jazz is based on individual skills, experimentation, shared references, and mutual trust and respect; so we believe that high-performing teams must learn to transcend traditional models that involve control, distrust, and predictability.