Where Management & Slam Poetry Collide

Miha Pogačnik, courtesy photo

Miha Pogačnik. Courtesy photo


On the first day of AOMO Conference this year, Pogačnik will work with the Terra Parzival Symphony Orchestra to guide conference attendees through what he calls “performance disruption.” The goal, he says, is to use musical architecture to explore a unique leadership learning experience.

Participants will be seated within the orchestra, each no more than 2 meters from a player. “Everyone is within the musical process as it unfolds,” he says. “You cannot imagine how powerful that is.”

The orchestra will play Beethoven’s violin concerto, but Pogačnik will not have them play through the entire piece. At first, they’ll start and stop, seemingly unexpectedly.

“Everyone hates it at first, because they want to listen to the music,” Pogačnik says. “But I want to connect it to a specific situation. People see, emerging in front of their ears and eyes, how the music is unfolding. So I take them through the entire masterpiece, and in the end we can perform, and the last time there is no stopping.

“But this time, they listen with nine sets of ears, and many people break down in tears, they are so moved.”


There’s more to the exercise than music appreciation. Participants will be encouraged to reflect on various issues — notably, whether it is possible to understand their own organizational dilemmas the same way they come to understand the musical structure of the concerto.

“The arts help open people — open their hearts and start looking at their employees in a different way,” Pogačnik says. “When they are through, they are completely changed. I call these ‘formative forces of art.’ They are inner experiences that can be connected to business situations.”

Andreas Dammertz of the Robert Bosch Kolleg, the in-house college of BOSCH in Germany, has arranged for Pogačnik to speak to the college’s flagship program. Dammertz says that everyone who participates tells him they have never experienced anything like it.

“I believe he brings in a fully new perspective concerning leadership, change, and mastering the complexity of a company,” Dammertz says. “From time to time, I meet former participants, and most of the time they still remember perfectly well the entire program.”

He adds that participants tend to primarily recall Pogačnik’s method — a sign, Dammertz says, that Pogačnik is reaching not only the minds but the souls of executives, as well.


“I think we are really talking about something that is emerging in the future. Everywhere, I notice that people are urgently looking to create an environment where people are really touched with their feelings,” Pogačnik says. “But it has to be structured to connect to real issues.”

Pogačnik believes the arts will some day be recognized as more than just entertainment, and that MBA will stand for “Master of Business Arts.”

“I believe that art should permeate executive education,” he says. “When people go away, they won’t forget things right away. That’s what art does. It brings meaning. It sinks very deep.”


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