Conducting Change

PDF: [See the article in the Blue Ridge Business Journal about Conducting Change]

What is David Stewart Wiley’s Conducting Change?

The leadership and teamwork lessons developed from leading a professional symphony orchestra consistently to its full potential offer valuable insights to leaders, managers and employees in any organization or profession.

We often hear variations on the following: “Are we all on the same page?”“We need to orchestrate changes” “How far shall I trust my colleagues?” “How can we prepare for unforeseen situations?

Conducting Change is an innovative “management” program in a symphony orchestra setting, developed by David Stewart Wiley.

The Unique Perspective of Conducting Change

What does a Conducting Change program look like? From the first moments of being invited into the venue, often as a surprise during an organizational meeting, everyone’s attention is grabbed, minds are opened to new experiences, and barriers are shattered. During a Conducting Change event, participants are seated among members of a live, professional orchestra — literally, inside the symphony. The conductor leads the musicians and participants through a series of carefully crafted and customized exercises meant to demonstrate the reactions, roles and practices of highly functioning groups – sometimes even in the face of dysfunctional situations.

David Stewart Wiley, Conducting Change

The interaction between musicians and the conductor is similar in many ways to the relationship between any group and its leaders. The conductor may be viewed, for example, as the “leader” and the instrumental families (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion) as the “employees.” However, the lessons of leadership are glaringly apparent. Can one exist without the other? Together, they find the best solutions for working together and producing an effective outcome. As the program progresses, participants have surprising opportunities to develop insights about the value of every role in an organization. Participants move around the“stage”, gaining exciting new perspectives, sometimes even being invited to assume the podium. What happens when a conductor contradicts his or her words with conflicting actions or gestures? What happens when a sea of violins goes rogue? What happens when a single triangle note is missing? How is each musical part and individual player contributing to the overall goal?

Each 65-minute Conducting Change program is strategically designed to be inline with the needs and challenges of individuals, teams, and the entire organization, be it a business, a unit of government, or a non-profit entity. It is a high-impact learning experience, a powerful personal and team journey, and exciting instructional entertainment. Each program is customized, with additions and modifications appropriate to the organization, the number of participants (which can range from as few as a handful to 150 or more) and organizational issues identified by the client. Because there is something basic and instinctive about how humans respond to music, a Conducting Change event lifts the spirit, elicits wonder, and stimulates the mind in unexplainable ways.

Music reaches the seemingly unreachable core of each person, and so it teaches more subtly, more effectively, and more memorably than a typical training session with a consultant.

Conducting Change Participants

David Stewart Wiley’s Conducting Change provides a compelling group experience. It stimulates and recalls fresh insights long after the “curtain closes.” The goal is to provide teams with alternative ways to communicate as they help individuals realize their full potential as well as their vital role in the organization. It is an opportunity to lift the human spirit through the power of music while offering insights and skills to help individuals recognize and relate to group dynamics.

Wiley has led acclaimed Conducting Change events with successful companies like Allstate Insurance Company, Carilion Clinic, and Member One Federal Credit Union.

Conducting Change Participant Testimonials

What a success!  It was due to your commitment to keeping this event alive that the three of us could realize together just how impactful it would be for our chapter.  We have received numerous emails today with members’ sincere appreciation of the experience you gave them on stage in Conducting Change. Thank you for all of your efforts and coordination in making this a seamless event for YPO LI!  I know I speak for both Nicole and myself when I say we hope to have the opportunity to work with you again.
–Danielle Katsaros, Chapter Manager, YPO-WPO Long Island


On behalf of all of us at Carilion Clinic, I want to thank you for the “Conducting Change” program you created and presented with the symphony. I spoke with a number of the 160 front line managers who attended, and the feedback has been enormously positive. Our Chief Operating Officer Nancy Agee [now C.E.O.] commented on your boundless energy and enthusiasm on the podium, and how it inspired and energized everyone in the hall. One participant commented that the orchestra was like a clock, and noted how exciting it was to move within the sections of a professional symphony and to observe how all the pieces came together as a unified whole. Your “Conducting Change” program allowed us to reinforce our corporate “Serve-U” culture, and was an innovative and engaging morning that will inspire and motivate our leaders to greater success. Thanks to you and the great staff at the symphony, this collaboration was a resounding success. Congratulations on a great event!

— Rebecca E. Ellis, Senior Director, Dining & Nutrition Services, Carilion Clinic


WOW! is my best description of “Conducting Change”. I have been fortunate to hear many world class speakers over my professional career presented by the likes of IBM, Burroughs, HP, and Microsoft. “Conducting Change” is a fresh new approach using music and musicians to navigate people through business and life experiences of teamwork, leadership, hard work, accomplishment and fun. Please immerse me in the middle of the “string section” of the symphony versus a lecture in some conference room any day! This is an exciting and enjoyable way for any business or organization to communicate their message. Congratulations on this wonderful new innovative program.

— Barton J. Wilner, President, Entre Computer Center


Gracious! You just can’t imagine how many positive comments we have received from our leaders who attended “Conducting Change” last week. I appreciate so much you taking the time to make this concept “come alive” with our leadership group. The fact that you connected to our corporate goals really impressed them. I can truly say this event was a definite success — our folks are still talking about the opportunity to sit “among” the symphony members and hear and see what they do. They were so impressed and I do believe we might have some new “symphony goers” out of our group. It was just an exciting time and you tied everything together so perfectly from a leadership/teamwork standpoint. That was a treat! Fred and I are crafting a letter that you can share with other businesses about what was accomplished that day. We just wanted to say “thank you” to you and the symphony for making this an event to remember!

— Pam Prestage and Fred Hatch, Allstate Insurance Company


David’s Conducting Change program is imagination at work, at its best. As someone who teaches management to MBA’s and executives, I envy the originality, the effectiveness, and the beauty of how David communicates, with the orchestra, those things that I try to teach.

— Paul Marer, Ph.D., Professor of Management, Central European University


Thank you and those who assisted you in “orchestrating” our employee meeting. It was a very creative and entertaining way to reinforce our message of change and the value of teamwork. I consider the experience of actually sitting within the musicians and witnessing the extraordinary talent of David Stewart Wiley a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Thank you so much.

— Deborah Goodwin, Member One Employee


I just wanted to thank you again for last night – the entire evening was tremendous. I shared with my brother, who is a musician, what you did with the orchestra (I had also shared with him the book Maestro not too long ago). He just thought that was a great idea and a wonderful way to bring music into the corporate world. What a terrific way to model important themes and concepts that directly relate to corporate life. Last night was a huge success! Thank you!

— Scott Crawford, Member One Employee


Thank you for a wonderful and unique event last night. It was such a treat to be able to hear and observe David Stewart Wiley and the symphony. I have been meaning to go to some of their performances but haven’t done so. Now I know I really do need to go. In addition, the messages on teamwork and the impact of each part on the whole was timely and were presented in such a unique and enjoyable way that it had an impact on all of us. There aren’t many meetings I have attended – not only at Member One – that made me wish they would last longer than they did! Kudos to all of you who thought of it and made it happen. You certainly have helped make Member One an even more special place to work.

— Sally Hicks, Member One

What is Required for a Conducting Change Event

Each leadership event is tailored to meet the particular needs of your organization. We use a space large enough to hold your participants (any where from a few to 160 or more people can work well) where the orchestra can be positioned with participants around and within the ensemble. A hotel ballroom and/or large conference meeting room can work well, and the professional orchestra can range in size from 32 up to 60 or more players. The cost to your organization varies depending on the date, size of the orchestra, and the scope of the collaboration – please call for details. We provide all professional musicians, stage equipment, and the host facility will rent the sound equipment and facilitate chairs and other technical requirements. Often, we keep the participation in the event a surprise to employees, as they enter the room to the “reveal” of the orchestra and the conductor, and are warmly invited to take a seat. There can be souvenir engraved batons as a takeaway, as desired, as a reminder of the experience and lessons learned. Why not do something amazing for your organization? Conducting Change may be just the experience you have been seeking.

How do I get more information about Conducting Change, or to engage David Stewart Wiley and a Conducting Change event for my organization?

Contact David Stewart Wiley directly or by voice mail: (540) 343-6221 ext. 226. We invite you to contact us today!