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What can Duke Ellington and Miles Davis teach entrepreneurs? Quite a lot, say academics

Duke Ellington leading his band in the 1930s. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

What can Duke Ellington and Miles Davis teach entrepreneurs? Quite a lot, say Warwick academics

Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Art Blakey are widely recognised as three of the greatest jazz band leaders of the 20th century. But did you ever consider they might be role models for entrepreneurs? In fact, each one of them has lessons to offer on how to inspire creativity and innovation within an established structure, according to Deniz Ucbasaran, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Warwick Business School.

Entrepreneurs are like jazz band leaders, Ucbasaran argues, insofar as they have to “build creative tension and give individuals their heads” while working within the framework of a collective. They have to harness the “disparate egos of highly talented people” and somehow keep them working towards the same goal. “To the uninitiated, jazz seems like chaos, whereas the reality is that it’s very ordered,” she says. “Underpinning the structure is a long tradition of education and practice.”

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