Jimi Hendrix for Innovators

by Dimis Michaelides

Jimi Hendrix for InnovatorsA vision for innovative leaders:

Imagine you’re a business leader with a vision, intent on driving innovation in your organization. You’re also a fan of Jimi Hendrix and love the kind of visions he had:

Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things just don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Imagine you’re a business leader with a vision, intent on driving innovation in your organization. You’re also a fan of Jimi Hendrix and love the kind of visions he had.

Here’s what your consultants and management textbooks might tell you to do:

FIRST make a decision on your organization’s innovation strategy. There are after all different types of innovation: breakthrough innovation (creating an entirely new business), business model innovation (profound differentiation in an existing business), continuous improvement (doing lots of things better all the time), product innovation, service innovation, process innovation, customer driven innovation. And so on. What is YOUR innovation all about?

SECOND make a decision on your organization’s desired balance between operational efficiency and innovation. What proportion of your resources (people time and money) goes towards doing what we do today well vs imagining how to do things differently or doing new things?.

THIRD figure out what systems you need deliver the above strategy within your above resource balance. How are you going to innovate?

Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t agree though. Too much rational thinking, not much people power.

So how about you?

Create some purple haze, encourage them to act funny and aim high so they can kiss the sky. In other words appreciate that ALL your people are creative. Recognize that they represent a massive innovation potential that begs to be deployed. Help them develop their creativity, individually and in teams. Create a culture that will allow them to create freely, at any time and in any way they like. Trust that they will do the right thing.

How about blending the textbook approach with Jimi Hendrix? Good luck!

Have a good trip! Yeah

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don’t know if it’s day or night
You’ve got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

– Jimi Hendrix

image credit: karencivil.com

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Creativity isn't what it used to beDimis Michaelides, Managing Director at Performa Consulting, is global business consultant and keynote speaker on The Art of Innovation. His book, The Art of Innovation: Integrating Creativity in Organizations, was published in 2007.

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  1. Exactly! My work of educating business leaders through jazz, I’m surrounded by musicians so I love your use of Hendrix. Musicians, creative and performing artists broadly, innovate as a matter of professional viability. While their creative process may be distilled into a textbook statement, the innovation that occurs is the result of — at least — years of training, practice and technical mastery of their chosen instrument.

    The crossover with employees seems to be in this: employees must bring their full selves to work (a particular project, job etc.) in order to access the full range of their skills sets and employers must be supportive in recognizing difference in approach, styles, etc. The HR process can be really helpful in identifying candidates with diverse backgrounds, talents that might not show up on a traditional resume.


    • In his short life Jimi, with his great verses and extraordinary musicality and guitar technique, was a great inspiration to many, including business people. Especially so because he was a disruptor in his field, as so many people aspiring to be innovators will be.

  2. …..”and you’ll never hear….surf music again”…….

    Removing man kind’s fingerprints from your brain (Jimi version)……removing preconceived notions (mere mortal version)….is the key to innovation. Otherwise you are doomed to the world of incremental.

    For a visual of innovation Jimi style, watch the video of Hendrix at Monterey. His first concert after returning to his home country from his musical exile in London. The world was a different place after Jimi’s show….in a very positively innovative manner.

  3. I find it troubling and disingenuous on you part that you would choose to use Mr. James Marshal Hendrix to promote entreprenurial and / or extablished business initiatives. What made him influential was his style, sound, stage presence, words and chosen subject matter. He was about as anti-establishment as one could be at that time (just listen to If 6 was 9). Where he references “white-collar consertives flashin at me…..” Do you think he would want his memory to be used in this now fashionable context – I think not.

    • As I wrote before, in his short life Jimi, with his great verses, extraordinary musicality and guitar technique, was a great inspiration to many, including people who are today in businesses. You are right, he WAS anti-establishment, he WAS a disruptor in his field, as so many people aspiring to be innovators would like to be.

    • “Wave that free flag high”.

      Who knows what Jimi would have been like if he’d survived ’till now. There are many examples of even the most rebellious figures of that era mellowing with age.

      Nevertheless, I can sympathise with your sentiments. Regards, PP..

  4. More on Jimi Hendrix & Innovation

  5. White collar conservative flashin’ down the street
    Pointin’ their plastic finger at me, ha!
    They’re hopin’ soon my kind will drop and die
    But uh I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high!


    Jimi Hendrix

  6. why do u need to use jimi hendrix to promote yer corporate bullsh*t? i guess it’s not yer fault, yer just trying to be cool.

  7. “White collared conservative flashing down the street,
    Pointing their plastic finger at me.
    They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die,
    But I’m gonna wave my freak flag high, high.

    Wave on, wave on
    Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me
    Go ahead on Mr. Business man, you can’t dress like me.
    Sing on Brother, play on drummer.”

    Jimi Hendrix ‘If 6 Was 9’
    On the status quo in his own words.

  8. I appreciate the authors analogy. In the tech sector, for example, many of the best innovators are also accomplished musicians, some of whom, such as myself, are not only Jimi fans but have studied his work and appreciate that this artist set the example of not being cornered by the mediocrities of the status quo.

  9. Like Jimi, sink your teeth into the task at hand, beware of castles made of sand, and avoid manic depression!

  10. You totally misrepresented Hendrix’s lyrics showing complete disrespect for the artist. You might consider the following to understand this song…https://jimihendrix.wikia.com/wiki/Purple_Haze which has nothing whatsoever to do with what you wrote.

  11. I absolutely love this! I don’t live in the corporate world any more but have many connections there. And I am the biggest Jimi Hendrix fan! I love that creativity and use it in all my work – writing, blogging and NGO work.

  12. I just happened to see this article, and while having large smile while reading through Hendrix idea, I immediately decided to subscribe!

    Though I am no business leader, but just a Game Artist, I really feel you have to be as crazy as Jimi to bring in innovation and be truly successful.


  13. What a bunch of total asshat tools. Business douches are about the farthest thing from capable of what Jimi Hendrix was and did. You can try to convince yourself 40 years after him that you are relevant, interesting or creative like he was: You aren’t.

  14. I love the idea.
    I can think of using The Beatles “Strawberry Fields” to explain lack of consumer insights or ignoring an industry trend: “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…”

  15. You obviously don’t know much about how Jimi Hendrix behaved with regard to his music and recording sessions. All his former bandmates talk about a man who was a stickler for perfection, 44 takes and sweeping aside any suggestion from bandmates and producers that the last one was OK. His bassist tells of how he’d leave the studio for a cigarette to calm down, he’d then return, only to find that Jimi had, in his absence, laid down his track too. You only have to look at him at Woodstock scowling at his other band members, urging them to keep up with his pace on Purple Haze to see that he was dominant, and the last thing he welcomed was suggestions from others.

  16. A pretty much pathetic attempt to try and look trendy. OK, you tell me why a 7 sharp nine chord actually IS innovative and I’ll tell you why putting an ad like this on Linkedin makes you look like a fool.

  17. Christ man, Hendrix to promote business entrepreneurship’s?

    That is pretty low.

    Pretty unforgivable.

    When did you think it was a good idea to marry Jimi’s virtues and message with some pale business garbage.

    No offense intended but if you think this is a good idea then you are a hopeless human being and I hope the ghost of Jimi haunts you until the end of your days.

    In fact, that would be too good. I hope the ghost of Jim Davidson haunts you instead. Whether dead or not.

    Just read the “How about blending the textbook approach with Jimi Hendrix?”.

    Seriously you need help- burn your textbooks, take a long walk and think about it.

    That’ll do.

    • I read the statement “How about blending the textbook approach with Jimi Hendrix? Good luck!” differently than you. I ‘heard’ “good luck” as “don’t think so!” Although stranger things could happen. Innovation labs are about a lot of things, including connecting “the wrong” dots to see what might happen. Would this article have invited the same reaction if the subject had been a classical music giant? Or Babe Ruth, etc.?

    • Mike, as I wrote before, in his short life Jimi, with his great verses, extraordinary musicality and guitar technique, was a great inspiration to many, including people who are today in businesses. He was a real disruptor in his field, as so many people aspiring to be innovators would like to be.

  18. Hmmmm…..encouraging workers to drop acid ?

  19. It’s funny you use Hendrix and innovation and don’t mention that he invented the waa-waa bar on the electric guitar, one of the biggest innovations in modern guitar.

  20. The lyrics of Jimi Hendrix are ahead of his time

  21. the tragedy about this linkedin post, is that in a few years (if not already) the majority of young managers and leaders will have no idea what the Jimi Hendrix experience was all about, not to mention his music!!!!

  22. You could quote many David Bowie song lyrics for the same effect.

  23. I don’t see any problem with this… Got your attention and Hendrix was an innovator… Some folks are just reading too much into this I guess…

  24. Counter culture is now mainstream culture … Everyone has an angle on entrepreneurship , if it gives you the trigger to get going in business use it . If not , don’t . Jimi would be playing modern jazz / blues fusion compositions any way.

  25. When I scheduled Dimis Michaelides’ short post on Purple Haze, and shared it with our LI group, I wasn’t sure what response, or variety of responses, might occur. One never knows!

    Clearly it hit a nerve with some, and was appreciated and liked by others. I will say this: the feeling of inspiration comes from many places; it’s not something we control any more than we control our response to a particular piece of music, or a body of work by an artist; whether they are thin on talent, or legendary like Hendrix. As a editor, it’s not my place to tell Dimis not to be inspired by Hendrix, or not to have intersecting thoughts or see/feel connections between music or lyrics and the space/experience of innovation. Some of our readers took offense at this. Others felt it to be an homage to someone that none of us seem to want to label.

    This reminds me that no one wants to be told who or what to love, admire or respect, or when or why. I published this post in the spirit of recognizing that reminders of our history – personal and collective – shape, teach, and invite us to look at the world differently or to share something powerful and connect. Hendrix did this, through his music, words and spectacular musical prowess which imprinted a generation and beyond. I saw Dimis looking thru that window in two directions. The strength of this online community is its power to express and share. If Hendrix were here now, would he laugh, not notice, tell us to chill, or ?

    I saw Dimis’ post as an invitation to imagine, explore, let go and enjoy what unfolds in the moment – something Hendrix is remembered for. When we hold another in awe, sometimes it ‘bugs’ to hear someone speak about our beloved in words, ways or context that we ourselves may not use. I believe this is why Dimis’ post provoked some of you. Peter Cook writes frequently for IX about rock n’ roll, and enjoys drawing analogies between music, business and much more. I respect that there are firm opinions about keeping music on the stage and away from innovation conversation.

    We at IX appreciate the diverse space that you have helped us create and improve, and support a community of expressive voices around the many facets of innovation. Thanks for sharing your voice with us! Mari Anixter, Managing Editor

    • Thank you Mari. Innovation consultants (of which I am one) will often flag some kind of blueprint which, more often than not, is some kind of variation on the same theme. And they often ignore the creative potential all people have. I’m hoping that referring and deferring to Jimi Hendrix might bring attention to that potential.

  26. P.S. If you have not heard him, Check out electric guitar virtuoso Ryan McGarvey at https://ryanmcgarvey.com/

  27. I’m surprised Janie hasn’t sued Dimis Michaelides
    yet for using jimi’s name here. Besides, Jimi was a very very poor businessman: during his lifetime he’d signed anything he could sign and most of the money went straight with his manager to the Bahama’s. After his lifetime his musical legacy got overshadowed with lawsuits & courtbattles over legal rights. This article is a lowpoint in the history of LinkedIn. “Especially tailored for you.” Yeah, thank you very much. bla-bla-woof woof.

  28. Dr. Benjamin Spock

    Apparently, most of the bloggers here weren’t around for the 60’s, and don’t understand the Purple Haze reference, which was all about one form of LSD, and one popular method was to drop it into the eye via eyedropper. I hated that drug induced-coma of so many during the end of Vietnam and in college then, and it didn’t do what Timothy Leery advocated to improve the quality of our existence. Anyone who thinks that Jimi Hendrix, who died of a heroin overdose, is some form of model of organizational behavior, is deluded or clearly on an acid trip. Get real, this is less about innovation and a vain attempt at popularizing a non-conformatist.

  29. I do not agree with your Hendrix analogy. But I get your point. To innovate you have to come into your work session, with no preconceptions, and total focus. Hendrix would have laughed at the analogy.

  30. Good afternoon innovators
    After reading all the comments in this page I realize there are not many innovations in the forest industries so we haveto compare with Jimmy Hendrix Following the success of about 50 answers I willbe happy to recieve up to 5 comments on my innovation called the HOLLOW BEAM which took 11 years complete and a cost of U$ 7.1 MILLIONto complete
    The was done to increase the yield of lumber from a log and how to decrease the amount of chips transforming chips into lumber
    The technology used was to cut the log with a new pattern that
    gave in increase from 50% to 120% yield and in chips by reducing the
    percentage from 35% to 10%
    The Hollow beam is an excellent construction material and the whole house can be built with Hollow Beam s.
    Last but not least the hollow beam is capable to replace most of the OSB,MDF,Particle board and plywoodso we can live in a home free from adhesives.
    Because of the saving or log volume ,these trees remain in the forest helping to reduce global warming maintain water and trap CO2
    Pablo Korach
    Engineered wood products

  31. His was a great talent. I still view the Woodstock performance on U Tube.
    My pick is Keith Emerson. He was an innovator when he introduced the Moog synthesizer that complemented his talents with the Hammond and pipe organ. Great concerts and fantastic albums.


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