March On

Back in high school I had many opportunities for extra-curricular activities, but marching band wasn’t one of them. In fact, I don’t think I even knew such a thing existed. My son graduated high school this year after four successful marching band seasons – one of the most rewarding activities he engaged in. I can’t imagine his high school experience without it.

Marching band teaches you team work and discipline, requires you to work hard, and gives you a hands-on (and feet-on) experience in shipping a product before it’s fully baked. Marchers practice for hours on end, day after day, rehearsing each detail over and over again. They build their product step by step, bar by bar, and movement by movement. When it’s ready or when the deadline hits – whichever comes first – they start their performance tour. Feedback starts flowing in even before the formal launch, but the critical one arrives in the form of competition judge reviews. Leveraging this feedback to drive product enhancements is a priceless lesson in continuous improvement.

Next week I’ll be dropping my son off at Cornell University where he will be studying for the next four years. Many factors led to his admittance into one of the world’s top engineering schools. His marching band experience played a significant role, helping him cement his academic and technical experience through solid work ethic and product-oriented thinking.

My daughter will be starting her marching band Journey in high school this year, playing the Sousaphone. I can’t wait to see where it takes her.