Improvisation Business

improvisation in business
improvisation in business - music thinking

Many people say that our times are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – some people call it the VUCA times. When making plans they try to execute them until reality comes into play. As a result, they try to quick fix everything as long as possible. Some people call this improvisation.

But improvisation is much more than just a repair mode. Improvisation can also be the start of the creative or change process to design for the VUCA times.

Improvisation in Music

All over the world musicians use improvisation from Indian classical music to Jazz. In music, there are many examples of how improvisation was the start of exceptional work. Johan Sebastian Bach, for example, was a formidable organ improviser. He used improvisation to shape his agility and often put this experience and results in a composition. It was part of his creative process. Ludwig van Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony the ‘Eroica’ – a contest between reason and emotion – finds its start at an improvisation battle. Another example is Giacinto Scelsi. He improvised on the piano and gave the recordings to a transcriber that set it into music. Later he changed the transcriptions to the final score.

Let’s not talk solely about improvisation in music but improvisation in business. The principles of improvisation can be applied to the business world to cope with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

Improvisation in Business

The Danube University Krems (Austria) Professor for Innovation and Business Lukas Zenk initiated, led and organised a one week course on business improvisation:

We live in a world that is currently undergoing major changes. Many of our previous plans can no longer continue in this form and we are faced with the challenge of acting in the here and now. Improvisation means dealing with the unforeseen (“improvisus” – the unforeseen). In this course, international experts from the arts, science, and business will conduct highly interactive online sessions to teach you the mindset and methods for professional improvisation. The basis of improvisation is found in the arts (theatre, music), however, in Business Improvisation it is applied for entrepreneurial purposes to be prepared for the unexpected.

Professor Wolfgang Stark (University Essen, Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship) invited Lutz Hempel (Groovin’ Organization) and Christof Zürn to a 3-hour interactive lecture concert. An experiment in Zoom for 16 participants from various companies. Here is the introductory video with a very short glimpse of the first musical interaction.

Interesting links:
Website of the Business Improvisation Course. Prepared for the unexpected
May 25-29, 2020.

Keeping Score – Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica
Three ways to improvise and play with the Jam Cards

Improvisation in the Music Thinking Framework

In the Music Thinking Framework, improvisation relates to JAMMIN” (one of the six cues).

JAMMIN’ is a very special cue because it is the only cue that appears on two different places in the framework: firstly, before SCORE in the challenge space and secondly, after SCORE in the solution space.

music thinking framework including six cues and many dynamics

Before SCORE

This means that ‘before SCORE’, JAMMIN’ connects with EMPATHY and PERSONALITY with the function to ‘to open up’ and ‘to sense’ new possibilities. This is comparable with improvisation as mentioned above in the examples of Beethoven and Scelsi.

Translated to a business context it means to use improvisation to sense and trying to understand the future possibilities that can emerge in relation to your audience and the environment (EMPATHY) and you as a brand and the how and why you are (PERSONALITY).

When JAMMIN’ appears ‘after SCORE’ it triggers the functions to ‘explore’ and ‘to create’. Meaning the SCORE gives direction to JAMMIN’.
This is comparable with improvisation like in traditional jazz were improvisation is following given material. This means, for example, a lead sheet with chord symbols and a simple melodic line with a lot of freedom for the soloist.
But if the SCORE is more determined like in a classical music score with many details, then we can talk more about the interpretation of the score than to improvise on the score. So in the classical context that would need the coaching, inspiration and vision of a conductor to bring the intention of the composer of the SCORE to a great performance.

After SCORE

Translated to a business context this all means that we need a common understanding of what a score is or better what kind of score is needed to bring the challenge to a solution. The cus SCORE has two sides as well. Firstly, at the end of the challenge space, the score has the function of ‘to show’, meaning to communicate what everybody should see. Secondly, in the solution space, we need the other function, namely ‘to do’ to help everybody in the organisation to be clear about what everybody should and can do.

If you are interested in how you can apply music thinking and improvisation business you might be interested in a practical workshop to experience how you can use this for your personal challenges.

Workshop on business improvisation

If the above-mentioned workshop is interesting for you, your team or organisation please contact us for a personal intake.

You might also find inspiration in our detailed offering on workshops, training and programmes.

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens is a quote by Jimi Hendrix.
Maybe there are so many things said about listening that we might not want to hear any more about it. But is it really listening we mean or just hearing? What’s the difference?

Let’s do an experiment: close your eyes now for 20 seconds and focus on everything that you can here in this very moment. Listen to the loud sounds – maybe there are people in the room or sounds outside – but also to the very soft sounds, tones that you might not have noticed before. Concentrate on all possible sonic expressions and listen deeply to the sounds that are there.
Done? Now compare these experiences with what you heard the last time you have entered a room with people. You might have been in a conversation or heard some random voices or sounds.

This is actually the difference between hearing and listening. Our ears are always open; every moment we get new information via our ears into our brain. Our ears function as a sense organ. Listening needs focus and attention.

In the Music Thinking Framework the Listen step is the first of the four steps and is consequently also active during the others. This means that we should switch from just hearing what is there to listen to what needs attention. As a result, Listen is not just about the data but about the meaning of it.

The Listen Card

The essence of the Listen card is to establish active listening. Listening can be a leadership practice to move from knowledge to wisdom. Or in other words to find the signal in the noise.

The picture

This iPhone snapshot was taken in the French Pavillion on the Venice Art Biennale 2017. The Pavillion is an architectural installation or living sculpture with different space that are intended as a recording studio. The idea of Studio Venezia by the artist Xavier Veilhan was to share moments of fragility, love, relationships and attention with musicians and art lovers. The inside – inspired by the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters – was all wood in a monochrome colour, where different musical instruments were built in the environment to bring emotion into visual art. Furthermore, during the exhibition, there were concerts from baroque, classical music, experimental jazz, pop to electronic music to share a sense of curiosity in sound and musical texture.

The quote

Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

To me, this quote tells two things: on the one hand to share knowledge we need to speak and on the other to get knowledge and transform it into wisdom and also in actions it requires listening.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the greatest and influential electrical guitarists of all times.

The sonic trigger

5-minute version at the end of the LP Electric Ladyland

Voodoo Child (slight return) is one of Hendrix’s best-known songs; it was a feature of his concert performances throughout his career, and several live renditions were recorded and released on later albums. I really love the beginning, the sonic quality and rhythm played with a wah-wah pedal and the great panning later in the song (listen with headphones). Thats why the song is not only an improvisation with guitar, voice, bass and drums but also great studio work that was evolving at the end of the 60s.

Here is another version together with Stevie Winwood:

15-minute version, the bluesy version with a lot of improvisation

The cues

On this card, we have the two cues that are playing the main role in the listening step at the beginning of a process: JAMMIN” and EMPATHY. First of all JAMMIN’ has two functions: to open up and to sense (what might come). While the EMPATHY cue stands for listening – deep and active listening – and also for understanding.

Some inspirational links

Video of the French Pavillion at Biennale di Venezia 2017

Deep Listening Institute Pauline Oliveros

About the Jam Cards

An inspirational card set for change makers, pattern recognisers, innovators, transformers and natural collaborators. The Jam Cards consist of 38 inspiration cards and six cue cards. All inspiration cards have a keyword, a visual and a sonic trigger, a trigger question, an inspirational quote, and six cues that connect with the Music Thinking Framework. You can use the cards from a strategic point of view, knowing what you want or need and a serendipity approach open to everything that will happen. ‘Music Thinking’ lets people work and play together in a new way with inspirations from the rich world of music.

Order the Jam Cards

You can order the jam cards via your local bookstore (worldwide) and have a nice chat with the people there and try the cards right away, or just buy them directly at BIS Publishers.

Likewise, you can also find them at Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Bol.com

What is your meta-language?

Did you ever ask yourself, how could I pass my knowledge and my experience to someone else? In the current speed of innovations and agility, it is quite a challenge to transfer knowledge. Making an online course is not for everyone, and telling what you are doing is not sufficient for real knowledge transfer. Here is another approach that I can recommend.

When the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007) had a break on a beach in Italy, in 1963, he composed a new piece called “Plus-Minus”. It was a piece of music of a totally uncommon kind. Instead of just notes for musicians to play, “Plus-Minus” contains a completely new graphical notation. The notation was never used afterwards, not by him, not by anyone else: a unique one-time composition. At a closer look, it turns out to be even more unique.

copyright Universal Edition

“Plus-Minus” is the result of a retrospective. Stockhausen must have asked himself, at that time in 1963 at the beach of Palermo, looking back to the 42 compositions he had made since 1950: how do I compose, what are the structures I use, and how could I have others make new compositions based on the same structures? In other words, what are the structures of my own musical thinking?

A set of instructions meant to make a score

Plus-Minus is not only a different notation, it is not even a regular music composition. Plus-Minus is a set of instructions meant to make a score. It is a meta-composition: it is a score for a composer to make up his own composition based on the instructions by Stockhausen. A unique piece of art in the post-war period that inspired many.

I have always found this an inspiring idea. It is a designer’s idea, not only valuable for composers and musicians but for every kind of designer, be it art, engineering or organisation design. It is a way of reflecting on one’s own way of working and make it reproducible for others. Everyone could ask herself: what are the structures of my own thinking, and how can I express them in such a way that everyone else could make her own version out of it?

Expressing these structures in a meta-language can be challenging.

Meta-languages must conform to two principles

Meta-languages must address a non-meta-language that can be understood by the target group. Stockhausen e.g. refers to music notes, his target group being musicians. A meta-language for IT programmers should refer to computer language concepts, a meta-language for information architects should be information concepts, a meta-language for furniture designers should be furniture constructions.

Meta-languages must define ranges of freedom for deliberately chosen aspects. Stockhausen refers to a “musical sound” in Plus-Minus and leaves the decision of what sound (musical instrument) this should be completely free. The structure, however, of how these sounds are repeated during the piece are dictated more strictly.

Meta-languages are quite common in IT, where programmers and architects define “domain languages”. Meta-languages could be applied in a much broader context, however. Also, UX designers, service designers and information architects could define their own meta-language.

A beautiful advantage

Defining your meta-language is a form of reflection with a beautiful advantage: it enables others to use your thinking structures in their design. You need some practice, but it is a very effective way of transferring your deeper knowledge and experience to others.

So, what is your meta-language?

Alcedo Coenen
Enterprise Architect with an M.A. in Musicology

Some inspirational links:

Ming Tsao about Plus Minus
Plus Minus No. 14 (video)
Original score available at Universal Edition
Music Thinking Framework with SCORE as one of the cues

Performing the Sounds of Empathy

This is about performing the sounds of empathy at the Design Thinking Conference in Amsterdam 2019.

On the 10th to 11th of October, the Design Thinking Conference powered by the DesignThinkers Academy Amsterdam was held in the Tobacco Theatre in Amsterdam.

The Conference

Is it possible to see things with different eyes‘ is the central question of the conference with a focus on empathy. And that’s why all actors (there are no ‘speakers’) are bringing very personal perspectives to share with the participants from all over the world. The MC of the two days was Author, educator, speaker, community builder, consultant, comedian and friend Adam Stjohn Lawrence.

Among others, we learned from Esther Thole about slime mould and how these organisms recognize each other’s signals, process them and respond. Stefan Van Der Stigchel talked about the importance of taking breaks and our unwillingness to take time for ourselves without a ‘square device’. That’s why he gave us the opportunity of 20 minutes of mind-wandering. Kalwant Bhopal led us through a provoking journey about empathy, identity, intersectionality and ‘white privilege’. With these perspectives plus a lot of interactions during the lunchtime and the buddy moments, the participants of the conference were off to the breakout sessions.

The Breakout Session

Xenia and I were invited to do a music thinking breakout session. The objective was to engage half of the conference (about 70 people) in a breakout workshop, let them learn and reflect about the things they heard and make a performance all together after the last actor to end the day with a big bang.

We stretched the conference theme with the music thinking interpretation of ‘with different eyes’ to ‘with different ears‘. After two minutes of silence, we let the participants think about what the sounds of empathy could be and engaged them in duos to discuss what empathy really sounds like. Then we asked them to transform this finding in something that they could reproduce with their voice, body percussion or something else.

The duos then shared their sounds in a sextet formation and made a musical score of this pattern. Parallel the prompters were instructed how we would do some kind of conducting theses scores and how we could bring this all together at the end of the day one. Look at the beautiful scores the teams made.

The Scores

Here is an excerpt of the performance, made with a steady ‘backstage camera’.

The Performance

Excerpt of the Performance during the Design Thinking Conference in Amsterdam

After the performance together with the whole conference, there was a lot of energy in the room.

Besides talking about what exactly the sound of empathy might be, there were also discussions about ‘what is a musical score or composition’, ‘what is interpretation’ and ‘what is improvisation’, ‘how can you scale small groups into bigger groups’ and ‘what is the difference between initiating, conducting and prompting’.

The one-hour breakout was organised with the four steps listen, tune, play and perform of the Music Thinking Framework and we touched four of the six cues: EMPATHY, SCORE, AGILITY, and REMIX.

Christof Zürn

Next steps

There are many ways to use Music Thinking for meaningful collaboration in your team or organisation, please contact if you have any questions or a challenge.

Open training: How to use music thinking for your team or organisation

How to use music thinking for your team or organisation

At the moment we are planning a new open course. The training will follow the basic line of our workshop: Meaningful collaboration with music thinking and therefore will explain in little theory and also with some exercises on how to use music thinking in an organisation.

You will learn new workshop tools and also get a copy of the Music Thinking Jam Cards

As a special, we will also talk about how the Dutch Cooperative Faebric used Music Thinking, the framework and the jam cards for a change project at the Dutch Railways.

This one day course is also suitable for in-house teams. Interested?



From Serendipity Lab to Idea Rap

In April we did half-day music thinking workshop for an international think tank that stands for ‘brands with a conscience’. The idea was to generate new ideas for the celebration of their 20th anniversary in 2020.

The main materials we used was the Jam Cards and the overall music thinking framework.

First, they diverged using the Serendipity Lab approach. After that, they worked in duos’ and quartets to create a long list of ideas. Then, instead of just presenting the ideas, the members acted like a music group and wrote the lyrics in co-creation and then performed a short Rap to give the ideas more spontaneity and emotions.

Here is a short video that shows the whole process and spontaneous creativity.

For more information on the Medine Group and Brands with a Conscience: http://medinge.org/

Music Thinking in Berlin – zwei neue Workshops

Berlin-Music-Thinking-Workshop
Berlin-Music-Thinking-Workshop

Yes, Music Thinking is coming to Berlin. Together with our friends from compassorange we are hosting two Music Thinking Workshops:

  1. Meaningful Collaboration with Music Thinking
  2. A Playful Customer Journey

Man spricht Deutsch … the workshop is in the German language; however, it is possible to split the groups when there is enough demand for English.

You can book each workshop separately or together as a package.

Music Thinking kommt nach Berlin

zwei Workshops am 16. und 17. Mai 2019. Beide Workshops können zusammen und auch einzeln gebucht werden.

Wie Musikdenken uns helfen kann besser zu kooperieren. Sinnvolles Zusammenarbeiten mit dem Music Thinking Ansatz. Eine neue Sicht auf Kreativität, Kund*innenorientierung und Organisation mit dem Music Thinking Framework.

Sie lernen den Music Thinking Denkrahmen (Framework) mit seinen sechs Stichworten (Cues) kennen und arbeiten praktisch mit den Music Thinking Jam Cards und drei neuen Workshoptools, die sie nach dem Training direkt anwenden können.

Wer: interessierte Fach- und Führungskräfte, die ihre Organisation auf dem Weg zu mehr Kreativität und Kund*innenorientierung unterstützen wollen.

Wann: 16.05.2019, 9:30 – 17:00 Uhr

Wo: Berlin, Ort wird noch bekannt gegebenen

Kosten: 595 € zzgl. MwSt., Early-Bird: 495 € zzgl. MwSt. bei Anmeldung bis 6. März 2019

Anmeldung unter info@compassorange.de

Moderation: Christof Zürn, Autor der Music Thinking Jam Cards und Gründer von Musicthinking.com, und Carolin Gebel, geschäftsführende Gesellschafterin und Senior Beraterin von compassorange

Wie Musikdenken uns hilft Kund*innen und Mitarbeiter*innen mit ihren Bedürfnissen besser zu verstehen, zu visualisieren und sinnvolle Produkt-Services zu initiieren. Service Design Thinking mit dem Music Thinking Ansatz.

Sie lernen, was die Grundlagen des Service Design sind, wie man die drei Tools Stakeholder Mapping, Persona und Customer Journey sowohl bei der Untersuchung als auch bei der Zukunftsblaupause einsetzt und das alles mit einem ganz neuen Ansatz des Music Thinking, der das Verständnis und den Einsatz einfacher macht für Ihre Kund*innen-, Mitarbeiter*innen- oder Nutzer*innen-Journey.

Wer: interessierte Fach- und Führungskräfte, die einen neuen Ansatz zum Service Design Thinking suchen

Wann: 17.05.2019, 9:30 – 17:00 Uhr

Wo: Berlin, Ort wird noch bekannt gegebenen

Kosten: 595 € zzgl. MwSt., Early-Bird: 495 € zzgl. MwSt. bei Anmeldung bis 6. März 2019

Anmeldung bis 22. März 2019 unter info@compassorange.de

Moderation: Christof Zürn, Autor der Music Thinking Jam Cards und Gründer von Musicthinking.com, und Carolin Gebel, geschäftsführende Gesellschafterin und Senior Beraterin von compassorange

Limitation as the starting point for creativity

To see limitations as the starting point for creativity is a great skill to develop.

Every day we face limitations. And limitations are everywhere. We find mental or physical boundaries of circumstances we might have chosen or not. We depend on beliefs, on schedules, on language, on nature, on the weather, on others, on our helpers, colleagues or family.

But we also might experience limitations where others see possibilities. If we want it or not, boundaries help us to focus. To focus on the limited options that are left. So we take them as a starting point to make the best out of it to diverge from our boundaries, develop new ideas and live the mantra ‘less is more’.

The Limitations Card

The essence of the limitations card is how can we de-focus from our experienced horizons and be curious about what else there is. This means take limitations as a start for new choices and divergent thinking to develop new innovations.

The picture

The picture is a snapshot with my iPhone. One morning I came down to the living room and saw my Ukulele with a broken string. Besides the fact that I had to fix this, I was charmed by the nice picture.
Because the way the a-string was standing in the air with this lovely curve gave me a sense of not just fixing this problem but trying to use it as it is.
I played half an hour with only three strings and it struck me how easy and convenient it was. My playing was totally different than normal. More simple, like an exercise in focusing.

The quote

To Achieve Great Things, Two Things Are Needed;
A Plan, And Not Quite Enough Time.

I love this quote by Amercain composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. This is not just about improvising but about focus. To start with a plan that gives you the focus on vision and guidance is essential. The limitation in time to speed up decision making and on the spot creation of choices is the starting point for creativity.

The sonic trigger

The limitations card does not have a musical sample. The Spotify link leads to the spoken words of Leonard Bernstein, a disclaimer before the performance of Brahms c-minor concerto.
This is a great example of leadership and followership together. In leading, in this case, the New York Philharmonic and in following, in this case, the ideas of Glenn Gould. So the ‘limitation’ of working together and taking a step back in leading and giving the partner the space to introduce his ideas and bringing this all together is great leader-followership.

Please take your time to listen to the introduction and also to the concerto, it is worth it.

The cues

On this card SCORE, AGILITY and PERSONALITY are interconnected. The SCORE is the plan, in this case, the original composition of Brahms. It is connected with the PERSONALITY of Bernstein and Gould, so interesting it is not one PERSONALITY but in this case two. In AGILITY you have to make decisions, sometimes on the spot. This means before you would REMIX, this would be the performance, AGILITY is making sense of PERSONALITY and SCORE.

Some inspirational links:

5 Hours of Glenn Gould Outtakes. Why? Listen and Find Out.
Leonard Bernstein Artful Learning

Music Thinking Jam Cards

 An inspirational card set for change makers, pattern recognisers, innovators, transformers and natural collaborators. The Jam Cards consist of 38 inspiration cards and six cue cards. All inspiration cards have a keyword, a visual and a sonic trigger, a trigger question, an inspirational quote, and six cues that connect with the Music Thinking Framework. You can use the cards from a strategic point of view, knowing what you want or need and a serendipity approach open to everything that will happen. ‘Music Thinking’ lets people work and play together in a new way with inspirations from the rich world of music.

Order the Music Thinking Jam Cards

You can order the jam cards via your local bookstore (worldwide) and have a nice chat with the people there and try the cards right away, or just buy them directly at BIS Publishers.

Yes, you can also find them at Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Bol.com

Entrainment – what makes a great team?

There are many books written about team building. Amazon lists more than 8.000 titles and a quick search on google results in 4.880.000.000 links, as of today. There is one aspect of interacting teams that I find interesting. It is the moment when things come together when we are in sync or in flow (like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it). I call this entrainment.

Entrainment is a difficult word and not used in daily conversation, that’s a pity because it is used in different references: the practice of entraining one’s brainwaves to a desired frequency, the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm, the alignment of a circadian system’s period and phase to the period and phase of an external rhythm, the process whereby two interacting oscillating systems assume the same period and so on.

The Entrainment Card

The essence of the entrainment card is how can we reach entrainment as a duo, trio, or a bigger group.  So as a team or organisation we could ask questions like: What does it need from every individual to act as one? To what theme, rhythm or signal can we have entrainment? What are the moments when you recognize that you are in entrainment with others and What behaviour can lead to entrainment? And most of all: How can we encourage or facilitate everyone to do this?

The picture

The Night Watch is one of the most famous Dutch Golden Age paintings. Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, also known as The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, but commonly referred to as The Night Watch (Dutch: De Nachtwacht, 1642 painting by Rembrandt van Rijn.)

There is so much written about this phenomenal painting, but I want to lead your attention to the right side of the painting, where the drummer is only partly in the picture. What intrigues me is that he is in total sync with the two protagonists in the middle of the painting and they are in sync of the rhythm from the drummer. You see in the concentration in the face of the drummer that he is focussed in being in sync, helping everyone to come together. And the protagonists hear the rhythm and act upon it.

 

The quote

We train ourselves over a period of years to be able to hear rhythms and anticipate combinations of sounds before they actually happen.

American jazz pianist Roland Hanna describing an essential capability in improvisation and playing jazz. It is more than just being in sync in playing together like in an orchestra, it is being in sync without knowing beforehand what will come but developing, instant composing, anticipating and co-creating.

The music

Poème Symphonique is a composition by György Ligeti for one hundred mechanical metronomes. The piece is written for ten “performers”, each one responsible for ten of the hundred metronomes. The metronomes are set up on the performance platform, and they are then all wound to their maximum extent and set to different speeds. Once they are all fully wound, there is a silence of two to six minutes, depending on the conductor; then, at the conductor’s signal, all of the metronomes are started as simultaneously as possible.

The beautiful sound of the different tempi gives the impression of rain. The piece typically ends with just one metronome ticking alone for a few beats. The metronomes are not in entrainment.

 

Here is an experimental video that ‘solves the problem of entrainment with the metronomes on different speed’.

Five metronomes are set to 176 bpm and placed on a Foamboard. When empty cans are placed underneath, the board is free to move from side to side and the metronomes are able to influence each other into synchronization.

When the cans are removed the metronomes are no longer physically coupled and some of them begin to fall out of step again.

 

The cues

The JAMMIN’ cue connects with the EMPATHY cue, this means we have to be creative and also have a feel for the other. We have to sense what the other is doing, needing, wanting and hopefully the other is doing the same. This means entrainment is not only done by one person, but it also needs at least two or more. If this works together we have the base for AGILITY, because like Roland Hanna is saying there is anticipation ‘before it really happens’. The REMIX is the result that shows this meaningful interaction.

Some inspirational links:

Rijksmuseum Announces Restoration of the Night Watch and Invites the Public to Watch 
Van Morrison, That’s entrainment
Flow the secret to happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Music Thinking Jam Cards

 An inspirational card set for change makers, pattern recognisers, innovators, transformers and natural collaborators. The Jam Cards consist of 38 inspiration cards and six cue cards. All inspiration cards have a keyword, a visual and a sonic trigger, a trigger question, an inspirational quote, and six cues that connect with the Music Thinking Framework. You can use the cards from a strategic point of view, knowing what you want or need and a serendipity approach open to everything that will happen. ‘Music Thinking’ lets people work and play together in a new way with inspirations from the rich world of music.

Order the Music Thinking Jam Cards

You can order the jam cards via your local bookstore (worldwide) and have a nice chat with the people there and try the cards right away, or just buy them directly at BIS Publishers. Yes, you can also find them at Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Bol.com

Journey, what is your most important asset to share?

When we talk about moonshots or moonshot projects we talk about something far away but principally, with some effort reachable. In a technology context, it is an ambitious, exploratory and ground-breaking project undertaken often without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit and also, perhaps, without a full investigation of potential risks and benefits. We face the unexpected, the unknown and hope for the best.

The Journey Card

The essence of the Journey card is to think about what our most important assets are. It means, what is the most important asset that we have to keep when we are going on a journey. This is important when you think about a space mission, but also when we think about our products and services, our companies communication, brand message and the values we want to share with our stakeholders. Stakeholders we know now, but also potential stakeholders of the future.

The picture

Picture: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a golden phonograph record containing pictures and sounds as a message for extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it. Each record is encased in a protective aluminium jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played.

So from a service design perspective, NASA has given instructions for extraterrestrials how to use this record. That is a great job and you should have a look on the website if you would be capable in understanding these instructions. The idea of the golden record was to send the most essential probes of our culture into space, so that extraterrestrials would understand our nature, wow! So the record has been featured in several works of science fiction. In the 1984 film “Starman,” a race of aliens discovers the record and sends an emissary to Earth to learn more about our planet.

The Golden Record consists of 115 analogue-encoded photographs, greetings in 55 languages, a 12-minute montage of sounds on Earth and 90 minutes of music

The music

There is a funny or better interesting story about all the songs and musical piece Dr Carl Sagan has selected. The record contains music from African tribes, Johann Sebastian Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Japanese Shakuhachi, Indian Raga and Johnny B. Goode from Chuck Berry. Remember we are still in the middle of the cold war, Europe is threatened by the soviet union and Nato is making plans for missiles in West-Germany. This was the time when NASA gave the assignment to a committee led by Carl Sagan to curate the 90 minutes. High-ranking Soviet politicians did everything they could to get the popular Russian song “Moscow Nights” (Podmoskovniye Vechera) included into the project. Alan Lomax, a legendary American folklorist, was asked for advice. He instantly discarded the Russian song and adviced them to include the Georgian song ‘Chakrulo’ instead. So this is the most famous Georgian Song and there is no Russian Song on the record. Funny enough Lomax opposed to including Johnny B. Goode because it was ‘adolescent’. And this time Sagan’s brilliant response was, ‘There are a lot of adolescents on the planet’.

The quote

It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.

Albert Einstein, who could play the piano and was a formidable violinist, talking about the driving force of intuition. It is said that when Einstein was thinking about a problem and got stuck, that he then stopped working and started playing the violin. And after playing for a while he moved back to his work with a fresh idea or the solution to the problem. So there is a direct line between, making music, intuition and problem-solving.

The cues

We need EMPATHY to connect with the other, we have to imagine what they look like, what they think and feel. This is tremendously difficult when we talk about someone or something that we have never seen before. We have to think about how they will look to us, how will they interpret our objects, our looks our behaviour. The most important thing is that we take the best we have, or what we can get, collect it, combine it, synthesize it, in other words, make the best REMIX and ship it. There might be an extra cue that could come into play PERSONALITY: If we don’t exactly know how we can have EMPATHY because we don’t know the other side, have not enough data, information or narratives; we have to focus on what we are, what makes us human (a company, yourself) and try to communicate this as clear as possible. So the cue PERSONALITY can come into play when we are not sure about the outside world because we first have to be sure about who we are.

Some inspirational links:

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Voyager
Download the Voyager Eyes App and ride along with the Voyager
Complete Playlist of the Golden Record (Spotify)
Albert Einstein plays Mozart Sonata in B-flat KV378

Music Thinking Jam Cards

 An inspirational card set for change makers, pattern recognisers, innovators, transformers and natural collaborators. The Jam Cards consist of 38 inspiration cards and six cue cards. All inspiration cards have a keyword, a visual and a sonic trigger, a trigger question, an inspirational quote, and six cues that connect with the Music Thinking Framework. You can use the cards from a strategic point of view, knowing what you want or need and a serendipity approach open to everything that will happen. ‘Music Thinking’ lets people work and play together in a new way with inspirations from the rich world of music.

Order the Music Thinking Jam Cards.
You can order the jam cards via your local bookstore (worldwide) and have a nice chat with the people there and try the cards right away, or just buy them directly at BIS Publishers. Yes, you can also find them at Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Bol.com