Collaborations Require Ensembles, Not Soloists
October 02, 2014

Solving The World's Biggest Problems Takes Ensembles, Not Soloists

Collaborations Require Ensembles, Not SoloistsFrom Jeffrey Walker, Vice Chairman, United Nation’s Secretary General’s Envoy for Health Finance and Malaria (via LinkedIn):

When I started playing in a jazz band back in the seventh grade, one of the first things I learned was the difference between being a good soloist and being part of a great ensemble. It’s not enough to be skilled at playing your own instrument. You need to learn to listen to everybody else’s sound, develop the flexibility to let your rhythms and harmonies mesh with theirs, and give others the freedom to improvise. Little by little, you find yourselves producing, as a group, musical creations that soar above the capabilities of any single performer.

Today, as a philanthropist with a number of global causes I’m passionate about, I believe it’s time for us to learn the same lesson. In today’s world of philanthropy, it’s not enough to pick the best nonprofit to fund—the talented soloist. In fact, I am tired of the many egos that are rewarded at conferences by being featured as heroes and leaders for starting an organization, looking good, and telling a moving story. That is not what is needed to be truly successful in advancing the big causes of our day!

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