WHAT is Werner Seifert thinking as he struggles to keep Deutsche Borse's bid for the LSE on track? A past speech of the German exchange's chief sheds some light on the workings of his mind. Addressing a finance industry conference in 2002, he begins: "I willingly confess I would rather work as a jazz musician than for Deutsche Borse." (Werner, the way things are going, you might soon get that opportunity.) He then proceeds to share with his audience "insights that should be drawn from jazz and applied to management". These include the observation that "in the midst of chaos, often only creative improvisation helps". He cites Charlie Parker, "whose phrase 'I'm going to the woodshelter' referred to the shed where he liked to experiment". It was in that hut, "a free experimental domain," says Seifert, that bebop was born. "Where is this woodshelter in today's corporations?" He goes on to compare large companies to big bands and says chief execs should take their cue from bandleaders. He ends with a rousing plea: "Let's go to the woodshelter and start jamming." History doesn't record what happens next - if the delegates sat baffled, nobody could have blamed them.But did Seifert plan the acquisition of LSE from his Frankfurt woodshelter? In which case, it's to be hoped his strategy is more coherent than bebop which, Seifert admits in the same talk, is "like playing Scrabble without any vowels".
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