The Unplayable Piano

Embracing Scarcity To Inspire Creativity

I’m a bit biased for using this example simply because I’m a piano player myself. But it does prove the point

A story was told about then Germany’s youngest concert promoter who was organizing a jazz piano concert. After all the promotions and logistics have been considered, the day of the concert came. The featured artist arrived at the opera house venue with much disappointment. The staff at the venue misunderstood some of the instructions about the piano that was needed for the event. What they had available, however, was horrible – the piano was in very poor condition, most of the keys were out of tune, the keys on the lower octave were very sticky and the pedals didn’t work properly. The featured artist refused to perform simply because of the horrible piano. It took much convincing from the concert promoter to finally get him to reconsider. It took hours to re-tune the horrible piano until it was time for the concert.

The show was completely sold out. And despite all of the limitations and disappointments with the primary musical instrument, the performance was very well received by the audience. The featured artist was American jazz pianist Keith Jarrett and the performance recording went on to become the best-selling solo album in jazz history and the all-time best-selling piano album – The Köln Concert

When You Don’t Have The Appropriate Resources

One of the questions I asked in my blog reader survey last year was about the top 3 challenges that they face at work.  It’s been almost a year since I had that survey up. Although the results have slightly changed from the last time I took the survey, the theme remained the same – not enough. Here are the top 3 challenges that my blog readers face at work.

  • Inefficient/outdated tools and technologies
  • Not enough training/learning opportunities
  • Poor planning

I bet you can relate. You want to try out the latest and greatest version of SQL Server to see how you can improve your operational efficiency. But you’re still on SQL Server 2005. And you can’t upgrade just yet. You wanted to implement a better monitoring tool so you can be proactive with your work as a SQL Server professional. But you don’t have any budget for that yet. You feel like you’re engaged in battle in the digital age armed only with pen and paper. You’re not alone. There are other SQL Server professionals out there like you who feel the same way and are in the exact same situation.

The Blessing in Lack

One of the things that I tell my customers whenever I get called into consulting engagements is “maximizing what we have.” I help them go thru the process of evaluating what they currently have and make the most out of it – not buying something, not upgrading, not acquiring – before even considering additional purchases. This not only saves them money but it also helps them exercise their creative muscles while developing teamwork. I guess it’s something that I’ve learned growing up in a third-world country where not having everything that you need forces you to “make lemonade out of lemons.” We got to make toys out of tin cans and create art with dirt. There is something about not having enough resources that forces you to think outside the box. And when most people complain about not having enough, I get forced into being creative – even in the area of dealing with SQL Server issues.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a big believer in making sure that we have the things that we need to get our job done – the latest tools, enough training opportunities, the right resources. But the reality is that resources are finite – time, talent and treasure (finances.) But what we do have is the opportunity to exercise our creative muscles to solve problems daily. It’s just a matter of changing the way we think about the concept of “not enough.

Instead of looking at the scarcity of resources as a challenge, we can look at it as an opportunity to be creative. Click To Tweet

Question: Can you share how you creatively dealt with the lack of resources in your organization?

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