Blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

Today in the programme we have Steve Keller from Oakland California and we learn more about sound art, sound science and sound business.

Steve has a great title: Audio alchemist and Sonic Strategy Director, Studio Resonate at SXM Media. We talk about audio-only and audio first strategies in what he calls ‘the platinum age of audio’, how COVID has changed our listening habits, the rise of clubhouse and how leaders can foster the ability to listen inside their companies. We have a conversation about the relationship between visual and sonic identities and what brands with a conscience can do to use sound for sustainable business in a multisensory world. 

We learn about his research on sonic racism and he shares with us a little ritual that he uses before brainstorming sessions that matter.

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

The Power of Music Thinking is brought to you by CREATIVE COMPANION

Listen and subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Google

Amazon Music/Audible

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or wherever you listen to your podcasts search for
The Power of Music Thinking

Other podcasts:

Steve Keller, Blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions

Michael Hendrix and Panos Panay, A mindset for entrepreneurship, leadership and design

Roy Scheerder, Blockchain Philosophy and Collaborative Transformation for Change

Who, what and why this Podcast

A mindset for entrepreneurship, leadership and design

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

In this show, we talk about the mindset of entrepreneurship, leadership and design. We are in Boston and in Cyprus, we chat with Michael Hendrix, Partner and Global Design Director at IDEO and with Panos Panay, Vice President for Strategy & Innovation at Berklee College of Music. Michael and Panos talk about their experience as entrepreneurs, leaders, and executives and the interviews they did with musicians like Björk, Justin Timberlake and many others. 

We speak about the creative mindset that designers and musicians share, the importance of emotional diligence and what David Bowie and Nokia have in common. We speak about what leadership can learn from music production, and that leaders in these times should rather look in the direction of a producer than a conductor. We hear that Design Thinking is less effective when used as a formula and that the musical mindset is applicable to everyone. And we talk about that the value of creative education and a musical mindset can have a great impact on business and innovation.

Here is a great excerpt from the talk:

great moment from the conversation

If this resonates with you, you should definitively check out their new book Two beats ahead. 

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

The Power of Music Thinking is brought to you by CREATIVE COMPANION

A short excerpt from the Two Beats ahead website

Everyone likes to talk about the entrepreneurial mindset and the mythical “innovator’s DNA,” but how do we actually get there? Having taught dozens of entrepreneurship courses between the two of us, we believe that the conversation around entrepreneurship is talking too much to the left brain and far too little to the creative right. We speak to people’s logic but not to their hearts.

This book is the product of our own creative collision between the worlds of music and business. The two of us were first drawn to each other by our mutual love of music and our common start-up backgrounds. We both started businesses in our 20s — including a virtual textile sampling company and online music booking platform — that succeeded in part by challenging orthodoxies in our respective industries. Then, while developing and teaching courses at Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (based in part on IDEO’s world-renowned design thinking principles), we began discussing the commonalities between the methods and mindsets of musicians and those of designers. What designers call prototyping, musicians call demoing, while iteration is a key aspect of innovation in both disciplines. The practice of observation, which musicians simply call listening, is integral to inspired application in both fields.

Listen and subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Google

Amazon Music/Audible

Stitcher

or wherever you listen to your podcasts search for
The Power of Music Thinking

More podcasts

Steve Keller, Blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions

Roy Scheerder, Blockchain Philosophy and Collaborative Transformation for Change

Who, what and why this Podcast

Blockchain Philosophy and Collaborative Transformation for Change

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

We talk about the blockchain philosophy, the concept of tokens and starting a cooperative with a joint goal and purpose.

We talk with Roy Scheerder – co-founder of the dutch cooperative Faebric. In this episode, we speak about Roy’s journey from hospitality to the lean and mean asset machine of the airline business and how to start as an entrepreneur with a cooperative. 

And we learn more about what blockchain philosophy has to do with collaborative transformation, how to start a strategic change project and the value that the music thinking framework has for him in client projects and how he uses the Jam Cards in workshops.

Roy is the first interviewee of the power of music thinking podcast. 

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

The Power of Music Thinking is brought to you by CREATIVE COMPANION

Listen and subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Google

Amazon Music/Audible

Stitcher

or wherever you listen to your podcasts search for
The Power of Music Thinking

More Podcasts

Steve Keller, Blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions

Michael Hendrix and Panos Panay, A mindset for entrepreneurship, leadership and design

Who, what and why this Podcast

Who, what and why this Podcast

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

In this very first episode of the brand new podcast The Power of Music Thinking, your host Christof Zürn will tell you about the background of this podcast. Who he is, why he started a podcast and what you can expect every two weeks.

Christof is a seasoned professional in accompanying individuals, teams and organisations to make the step from iteration to innovation and transformation. To find patterns and analogies between business and music is his passion and his mission is to combine these to meaningful collaboration in whatever field you are operating.

The Power of Music Thinking Podcast

More from Music Thinking:

Listen and subscribe to the podcast on the following platforms

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Spotify

Google

Amazon Music/Audible

Stitcher

or wherever you listen to your podcasts search for
The Power of Music Thinking

More Podcasts

Steve Keller, Blend sound science with sound art to make sound decisions

Michael Hendrix and Panos Panay, A mindset for entrepreneurship, leadership and design

Roy Scheerder, Blockchain Philosophy and Collaborative Transformation for Change

Innovation, Werte und Wandel – podcast 2

THINK TWICE! The German podcast about innovation, values and change by and with Niels Benson & Friends. A podcast with a high nutrient density that does not string together the familiar buzzword phrases, but rather relates different perspectives, experiences, intentions and observations in an honest, holistic and interconnected way.

Deutsch

THINK TWICE! Der Podcast über Innovation, Werte und Wandel von und mit Niels Benson & Friends.

Free Jazz, Punk oder Klassik? Solo oder Orchester? Musik als Analogie für das Miteinander in Teams oder auch für abgestimmte Prozesse in Unternehmen? Dazu hat Christof Zürn ein Denk- und Arbeitsmodell namens „Music Thinking“ entwickelt.

Music Thinking ist eine kreative Einladung, anders zu denken und sich inspirieren zu lassen, in sinnvollen Kooperationen über Silos hinweg zu arbeiten. Music Thinking verbindet agile Methoden mit Service Design Thinking und Branding mit organisatorischem Wandel, welches sich am Design Thinking oder auch an Service Design anlehnt.

Christof und Niels haben ihren Takt und Rhythmus schnell gefunden und vertiefen sich einer sehr guten Stunde in einen launigen Dialog über Listen, Tune, Play & Perform.

Music Thinking verbindet agile Methoden mit Service Design Thinking und Branding mit organisatorischem Wandel, welches sich am Design Thinking oder auch an Service Design anlehnt.

Mehr info: Christof hat mehr als 25 Jahre Erfahrung in verschiedenen Rollen wie Management Consultant, Creative Director, Design Thinking Coach, Service Designer oder Musiker. Er entwickelte Tools, Trainings und Workshops, um Menschen zu inspirieren, aus verschiedenen Perspektiven zu denken, mit dem Ziel, zu verstehen, zu innovieren und zusammenzuarbeiten.

Christof ist Schreiner von Beruf und hat einen MA in Musikwissenschaft, Philosophie und Kunstgeschichte am Karlsruher Institut für Technologie.

Was ist Music Thinking
https://musicthinking.com/what-is-music-thinking/

Alles über die Jam Cards
https://musicthinking.com/jam-cards/

Beispiel von Serendipity Lab und Gebrauch Jam Cards in Workshop
https://musicthinking.com/from-serendipity-lab-to-idea-rap/

Beispiele ‚Behind the Cards‘ Story
https://musicthinking.com/trust-your-intuition/
https://musicthinking.com/thinking-about-our-tools-instead-of-our-goals/

Unlocking Your World of Creativity – podcast 1

Design with Music Thinking Christof Zürn on Unlocking your world of creativity podcast
Design with Music Thinking Christof Zürn on Unlocking your world of creativity podcast

On UNLOCKING YOUR WORLD OF CREATIVITY, best-selling author and global brand innovator, Mark Stinson introduces you to some of the world’s leading creative talent from publishing, film, animation, music, restaurants, medical research, and more.

In every episode, you’ll discover: How to tap into your most original thinking, Inspiration from the experts’ own experience, Specific tools, exercises, and formulas to organize your ideas. And most of all, you’ll learn how to make connections and create opportunities to publish, post, record, display, sell, market, and promote your creative work.

Design with Music Thinking, Episode 57

in the latest episode, Mark Stinson is talking with Christof Zürn about how music can boost creativity, some inside stories, and music thinking and the jam cards in action.

Check-in with the podcast and unlock your world of creativity. Listen for the latest insights for creative people who want to stop questioning themselves and overcome obstacles to launch their creative endeavours out into the world.

Transcript of the Podcast (excerpt)

Hello again, friends, and welcome back to our podcast. Unlocking your world of creativity, the podcast, where we get inspiration from creative experts, literally all over the world. And more specifically, we want to look at tools and methods and exercises to help stimulate our thinking to organise our ideas. And most of all, make connections to get our work out into the world. Today we’re travelling to the Netherlands, to the oldest city in the Netherlands, Nijmegen, 2000 years old.

We’re talking with Christof Zürn; Christof has a unique perspective from musicology. It is not only to use music to think about our ideas, stimulate new thinking, but also to use some music craftsmanship to organise the thinking. He’s got a lot of useful creative techniques that use music as a projective technique.

Mark: [00:00:59] So Christof, let’s jump right into it. This idea of music thinking as a creative tool. I mean, I like music. As much as anybody else, we’ve had lots of musicians and artists on our podcast. But what is it to think about music as a creative tool?

Pattern recognition

Christof: [00:01:16] I think the most exciting thing for me is the patterns and pattern recognition. And that’s also interesting if you are looking for analogies between business music, creativity, and music is such a big field. And sometimes you experienced something, and then you think Hey, wow, that’s interesting. How would it look in a different area? And so that’s my connection with music.

So it’s not necessarily that I like all the music to listen to – although most of them I do somehow -, there are so many interesting things. And that keeps you thinking. Let me give you one example. If you are in the Western world, we have 12 tones in an octave. Many people don’t know what an octave is, and that’s also not very important, but people can listen to music. In India, you have 22 srutis in an octave and that’s a difference, so the analogy would be, Hey, interesting, did we miss something? If you’re in another field, like in business, you would say wow, why are we limited to 12 tones? And the other thing would be, yeah. Is there something else that we missed? That’s a little bit of my broad idea about music and also the scalability factor.

Most of the time, in business, people talk about conductors and symphony, and it’s a little meant a bit more like a metaphor. And I’m not fond of metaphor too much because it’s often a shortcut or cliche. What I like is an analogy – an analogy from one field to the other. And when it’s about creativity, people always talk about jazz.
But I think there’s a lot of creativity in every kind of music. It’s not only limited to jazz. And there is a lot of leadership and co-leadership of all the other musicians as well.

And when I talk about music, it’s really from, let’s say, didgeridoo playing from Australia, from indigenous people to a high class, sophisticated modern symphony orchestra. So for me, it’s the whole world of music.
Mark: [00:03:19] Well, and Christof, you’ve been able to parlay and leverage your studies. Your degrees are in musicology, philosophy and history of art but you’ve made this into a design thinking process and capability. Your company, Creative Companion, uses music as a tool for creative thinking; tell us how you began to apply that and how you’ve grown that practice over time.

Christof: [00:03:45] I’m doing 25 years of digital productions and user-centred design, human-centred design, service, design, design thinking. Everything that evolved from that part and because twenty-five years ago, I got my master’s degree in musicology and forgot about it.

When working with people, I recognised that they’re using musical terms like, Hey, we have to jam about this, or that’s a great idea, let’s orchestrate it for the whole company. Then I felt like, wow, that’s interesting. And I am working in design thinking where you have clear steps and something called the double diamond. But, I was missing something.

Listen, tune, play and perform

So that’s why I came up with the music thinking phases like, listen, tune, play and perform. And the exciting part is, is that listening goes through all the other phases as well.

So it’s not just listening initially, then we tune, and then we play, and then we perform. No, we listen all the time. For example, in classical music, you may start as a composer; you feel inspired, write it down, tune it, but then play it and offer it to a conductor and an orchestra play it in a venue. And then, during the performance, you need the conductor to synchronise everyone.

In Jazz everything is happening at the same time

But in jazz, you are on the bandstand, and you’re listening, tuning, playing, and performing all at the same time. So that’s for me the interesting part. I also experienced that people have problems to understand what design thinking calls the double diamond. Because in real life, it is totally different because everything overlaps and is happening at the same time.

And that’s where the jazz dynamic with these four phases, listen, tune, play, and perform, comes into play. That feels more natural, and the analogy with how we work in business is easier to see.

Mark: [00:05:45] You know, one of the things that I read in one of your articles was how the notes on the page serve as a framework. But how do those notes performed, and how do they combine with different instruments. So you draw that analogy out to some creative thinking as well.

Problem solving

Christof: [00:06:11] Absolutely. But maybe good to share with you that people don’t come to me and say, hey, let’s do music thinking. People come to me when they have a problem or challenge. They say we need an innovative product, or can you help us with a workshop now these days with an online digital workshop; or can you help us in three or four days to come from here to there. Then the question is, how would you do this? And then music thinking comes in.

How do you listen to your business?

In a workshop, most of the time, I first ask the people, how are you listening? And also, how are you listening to your business? Because often this is the same. I don’t know what music you are listening to Mark?
Mark: [00:06:52] I like an acoustic singer-songwriter. I’m always on the lookout for somebody sitting on a stool in a Café, and I like the basics of the song.

Christof: [00:07:03] Great. And this would be most of the time, one person like a singer-songwriter singing and maybe one or two persons to accompany it. But most of the time, only one person. Okay, now is there something where you would switch off the radio? Is there music where you would say, Oh, that’s not for me?

Mark: [00:07:22] Well, you know, not too often. Because, I mean, I enjoy a good country music song, but grew up in the disco era. So it’ll always take me back to the good times with my final bottoms and, you know, silky shirt. But then, you know, an opera might not be my thing, at that particular time. So I might turn it off.

Christof: [00:07:48] What’s interesting for me is if I ask people in the workshop these question, then already, you just have to bring them together for a pleasant conversation. For example, you love one single person playing, and maybe when a lot of people playing together, you might not be so comfortable.

Sense and realise how you listen

And this is not black and white. The idea is that you realise that the way you listen to music might be the way you listen to other people when working with them together. And that’s sometimes an epiphany when people realise this. And the good thing with music is that every music is great because someone is listening to it.

So if one person is going to the stage and unwrapping the guitar, Sitting in a particular pose and playing a song and everybody is feeling it. That’s an entirely different experience than an opera, where it’s a whole operation. It’s like a multinational compared to a store owner. And you know, people are opening up when they can sense these analogies. That’s a good start when working together to make analogies instead of throwing with metaphors because it is easier to see your listening and doing patterns.

This transcript was done with descript and fine-tuned with grammarly

Listen to the whole episode of the podcast.

Show notes

Christof Zürn, Creative Companion, Music Thinking

As ‘Creative Companion’ Christof is accompanying individuals, teams, and organizations to make the step from iteration to innovation to transformation. He does this with decades of experience in branding, digitalization, service design, design thinking and developed a fresh methodology he calls “Music Thinking.”

He is a seasoned professional in multiple roles like Creative Director, Chief Design Officer, Service Designer, Management Consultant, (digital) Facilitator, or Musician. Christof has developed tools, training, and workshops to inspire people to think from different perspectives at the same time with the goal to understand, innovate, and collaborate.

Get his Jam Cards: more info

If you can’t adapt, adopt!

if you can't adapt, adopt!

‘If you can’t adapt, adopt!’

I am fascinated by signs, language and what can come out of it. Take a musical score and compare it with the music played with the help of that score. Did you realise that before the invention of the phonograph, gramophone, tape recorder, record player, cd player, mp3-player and streaming services, music was shared via signs on a paper – a score? 

The most complicated musical score can sound very easy. Or a score that is looking innocent on paper can be a tremendously complex and loud experience. So signs and the meaning of symbols can give us different experiences when dealing with a collection of characters that make up something more significant. Like a tone, a melody in a symphony of signs and sounds. A letter in a word in an essay.

Suppose you like to play with letters and words and change the characters’ order to make something new. In that case, there is a lot of fun and sometimes an Epiphany that the very same letters, shuffled in different ways, can bring up totally different meanings. Everyone who likes to play Scrabble or Wordfeud knows what I mean. 

Here are some examples where the very same letters reshuffled have very different meanings. However, from a material point of view they are the same: DOG is GOD, HOW is WHO, DYSLEXIA is SEX DAILY, SIGN is SING and SILENT is LISTEN. There is also music in this approach. Because musicians are doing the same when playing with tones to come up with ever-changing new variations.  

HOW WHO LISTEN SILENT DYSLEXIA SEX DAILY SIGN SING - MUSIC THINKING

So if you understand the difference between one single letter, let’s say the difference between an A and an O, visually it is just a little change, but the meaning can be enormous. This comes into play with an adaptation of Scrabble: the boardgame Upwords. In Upwords it is possible to stack a letter on top of other letters already on the gameboard; to change the meaning and get extra points. 

Let’s take the word ‘adapt‘. The Cambridge Dictionary says:  to adjust to different conditions or uses; to change to meet different situations; to change your ideas or behaviour to make them suitable for a new situation. 
Think about an adapter. It does not change your iPhone but makes your headphone still workable because Apple ditched the headphone jack. So we are used to adapting every day, making slight changes in the same system to keep it working, without making progress into something new.

Now let’s trade the letter A for the letter O and look at the word ‘adopt‘. Cambridge Dictionary says:  to accept or start to use something new; to start behaving in a particular way, especially by choice. 
So this is something different it is not shaping the given, but adding something new. Seeing something in a different light and switching the meaning from one direction to another. It is like the history of sound recording. We jumped from the acoustic to the electric, magnetic, and (finally?) digital era.

If you can't adapt, adopt!
Christof Zürn

There is a more profound lesson in this, and I would like to offer this as a possible direction for the new year. If you can’t adapt, adopt!

Be aware of the small signs, the little changes in the system, the little gestures, the details that could shift us from just adapting to adopting. Something new or unheard, something that already was there but overseen. Something that makes real sense.  

I wish you have many epiphanies in 2021 with a positive impact on the planet, our society and for yourself.

Note: This post is part of the Epiphany-Greetings 2021, Creative Companion is sending out every 6th of January. More info on What is Epiphany?

have a great year

Christof Zürn

Asking the right questions with the unanswered question

Free Download of the unanswered question template to craft your challenge

Are we asking the right question? How might we change the world? The unanswered question template might help.

When I worked in the Design Thinking Center in Amsterdam as Chief Design Officer, I started my introduction often with: 
There is good news. Everybody is talking about design thinking. We have the momentum to change the world with a mind- and toolset that comes from a different craft and uses it for another – from design to business. 
And there is bad news. Everybody is talking about design thinking, which means that there are knowledge, opinions, assumptions, experiences and many ways to explain and think about what design thinking might be. 

Doing Design Thinking right

For the new and inexperienced it is a workshop, a brainstorm, sticky note ideation, a sprint, a quick fix, a solution to come up with the next disruptive cool thing.
For practitioners, it is a mindset, that incorporates thinking and doing and – like any craft – a minimum time to learn, use and repeat it. In its essence, there must be at least proper research, experimentation, iterative prototyping and iterative piloting which rolls into implementation – and then improvement.

So it is not a surprise that we can read about why design thinking fails, and in the same thread why design thinking is the way to go, it just has to be done right. The same goes for other business approaches like Agile, Scrum, Kanban and Lean and Lean UX. All of them are out there in businesses all over the globe with variable experiences – and sometimes frustrations.

Can an analogy help?

The discussion of using different methodologies and applying them in parts (for the good or bad) is comparable with the world of music. Is it Rock, is it Pop, is it Jazz, is it Dance or just something we don’t know yet? Every Noise at Once lists 5,472 (as of june 2021) – what they call – genre-shaped distinctions.

Every Noise at Once - the analogy of music genres and organisations

Besides, there are millions of bands that try to find their style with the combination of all the above. And they will take whatever it is to use it for their purpose or taste.

And precisely this is what organisations are trying to do when they shop around in methodology land without knowing how these methods work and where they link with each other.
Letting all the different influences appreciate their values and join them in meaningful collaboration for a common goal is the utmost responsibility of the leadership. Then the audience might recognise the style and can appreciate the performance.

But how to start?

Start with asking the right questions

I believe that we don’t change the world by asking questions that we can solve in a single sprint. Our questions should be shaped in the way that they guide us towards more insights and to connect short term and long term thinking.
There is a lot of worth in asking the right question. For example, if you start a project with ‘How can we’ it is clear that we assume that we can solve the problem. This means in just using the word ‘can’ we focus on the solution and not on the challenge. This leads to short term fixing and assumptions based on what we think we know. Assumption based projects can be costly and always have pressure at the end of the project. They come with a lot of ad hoc changes and quick fixes to bring it to a shippable version. 

It is much better to use the formula How might we. There are many versions of the How Might We question, some call it ‘problem statement’ (Nielsen Norman Group) or ‘design challenge’ (IDEO design kit), ‘user point of view’ or just ‘beautiful question’. 

The unanswered question as a guide

We all know that most client assignments start with a problem or a solution in mind. To tackle the problem or just fix the solution is the main focus. So the biggest challenge for meaningful collaborations is to check if the assumption on the situation or solution is right. And also see if the research and the insights of the research are evenly distributed in the organisation or just the ‘crazy idea of the most extrovert’. That’s why it is essential to mutually agree on what is what I suggest to call it: the unanswered question. 

A ‘problem statement’ or ‘design challenge’ to my ears sound too much solution- or product-service-oriented and often stimulate short-term quick fix sprint thinking.

That’s why I prefer to call it the unanswered question; it gives the company more space to explore what exactly is going on. It also helps to connect short term and long term thinking in understanding if an iteration, innovation or transformation is needed.

The unanswered question by Charles Ives

Let’s get some musical inspiration. The unanswered question is a short orchestral piece composed by Charles E. Ives. I invite you to listen to the song and try to think about an unanswered question of your own.

A short description of the piece: the orchestration of the work is in three musical sections. It starts with the ‘silence of the druids’ – who know, see and hear nothing. The strings represent it without tempo or dynamic changes. Then the trumpet states ‘the perennial question of existence’ in the same tone of voice several times. The flutes or woodwinds try to answer the question and become gradually more active, faster and louder.

For all the music freaks out there is here is an analysis of the unanswered question and more info about the composer Charles Ives who worked most of his life selling insurances.

The unanswered Question template

I enclosed the how might we formula into an unanswered question template with short instructions and also a Spotify link to scan with your mobile to use the music as an inspiration and explanation in the workshop.

‘How’ stands for ‘we don’t know the answer yet’, ‘might’ for ‘we even don’t know if it is possible’ and ‘we’ stands for ‘this is a group effort and needs meaningful collaboration’.

Download the original unanswered question template
Download the original unanswered question template

On the right side of the template, you find the six cues of music thinking. The different parts of the template correspond with one or more of the six cues.

The first part – given the fact – connects the cues JAMMIN’, EMPATHY and PERSONALITY. This means that there must be facts that give input to the SCORE that guides AGILITY and Jammin’.

And finally, everything should lead to a REMIX. And while the ensemble is performing the audience is listening and we start the first iteration.

Unanswered question storming

Try an ‘Unanswered Question Storming’ of about 50 variations of the formula above. You can print the template in A4 and ask the participants to write as many unanswered questions as possible. Start with listening to the unanswered question by Charles Ives. Get a feel what the words mean and how they send us in specific directions.

I am sure there will be one that is worth exploring.

If you have the right questions it is easy to connect all the tools and methodologies that help to realise at least the first iteration of a possible solution.

Any questions?

Collaborative transformation with music thinking

collaborative transformation with music thinking

The Dutch cooperative Faebric is specialised in collaborative transformation and the music thinking approach.

When the dutch railway’s asked them to design and lead the integration of the commercial organisation with the IT department they choose to do this with the music thinking approach and instruments in mind. The whole collaborative transformation incorporated 500 employees and involved e.g. the workers’ council and six collaborators from Faebric with capabilities like organisational design, leadership coaching, HR tech, service design thinking, design management, agile kanban, lego serious play, commercial and data strategy. 

How to start with music thinking?

At the beginning of the project, a work team was established, and duo’s were built to establish a team feel down to the smallest entity. Half of the group members were elected by the organisation and the other half appointed by the leadership. Collaborators from outside the organisation were added along the way to scale up with additional expertise. The decision to start in duos was a crucial one and led to focus on flexibility, sharability and accountability. The group members were also encouraged to work in different constellations from duo to bigger ensembles in stand-ups, demos, and retrospectives.

How to use the Jam Cards

In one of the first meetings, the Jam Cards were used in a serendipity lab workshop to explore and ‘sense the field of change’ and to finally come to design challenges that would connect ‘the unanswered question’ of the new organisation. This was also done in the style of a design challenge.

Serendipity Lab with the jam cards for collaborative transformation
Serendipity Lab to find the unanswered questions
 the chosen jam cards for collaborative transformation and formulating a design challenge
Selection of the jam cards that play a role in the next steps

The Jam Cards were used in many ways. For example, in onboarding and offboarding of new team members, with the question of What card summarises the experience while working on the project?

offboarding from the project with the jam cards
off-boarding ritual of a team member


Or when the prototyping teams of new organisational entities were established every member – with the use of one of the jam cards – could make a wish for the new organisation.
These rituals helped to make the wishes more explicit, bring complicated things down to a single card and create a shared meaningful moment with the group.

Dynamics in the collaborative transformation

The phases of the music thinking framework are Listen, Tune, Play and Perform. There are many ways how these phases interact and overlap each other. Here the analogy of music comes into play. The different typicalities of a musical style, e.g. the classical music style with its step-by-step approach is very different from the jazz style where all phases overlap. Or in the Rock genre, the PLAY phase (in green) represents among other things the prototyping activities.

Dynamics of the collaborative transformation project at dutch railways
Visualisation of the dynamics regarding the sprints and overall project


From a management consulting perspective, the dynamics of the music thinking framework show the visualisation of the two weekly organisation sprints. They reveal the different dynamics of the design phase.

This helped to establish that not every sprint is equal, that every two-week-sprint can have a particular dynamic and that the dynamic of its own is whether good or bad, but just different.

Other Music Thinking Instruments

The six cues were the starting point to connect instruments with interactions. The SCORE cue and the REMIX cue were the basis to iterate from the organisational design via prototyping to first operation.

Deep Listening exercises in the style of Pauline Oliveros (the difference between listening and hearing) were part of the first leadership sessions.

Later the four perspectives of listening by Otto Scharmer (Theory U) were trained and exercised with an online self-assessment tool, to keep track of the changes in the listening style.

Otto Scharmer explaining the 4 levels of listening

Every leadership session started with – then in corona time and everybody locked at home – a meditation ritual, e.g. a sonic meditation including singing bowl sounds.

In addition to the mentioned instruments above the music thinking framework poster was always at hand to explain the connections and get inspiration from different tools.

A variety of playlists complemented the music thinking approach. They were used as a discussion starter and to capture the collective knowledge of how the team is listening.

About Faebric cooperative

We are Fæbric; we facilitate change by collaboration and design. ​ We help leaders, teams and organisations to interpret and to act upon the signs of the time. We do this through collaborative transformation. We offer our expertise in leadership, strategy, design and technology, to deliver value by approaching challenges and solutions in new ways. With a strong understanding of collaboration, learning and engagement, we facilitate you to perform your potential.

Read more about the NS (Nationale Spoorwegen) case on the Faebric website.

Trust your intuition

The Trust Card - Music Thinking Jam Cards
Stories behind the Jam Cards - this is number 9, all about Trust
One of the 44 Music Thinking Jam Cards

Choose the right partner, clear the dancefloor and trust our intuition is a quote by Tim Brown ( IDEO).

What does it need to trust the intuition of your partner? And who might be your partner? Is it a brand, an organisation, a service, a colleague or a leader you want to share the imaginary dancefloor?

The Trust Card

The essence of the Trust Card is that there will be a time where you want or have to perform. In other words, the time of thinking or asking questions is over. It is showtime, it is just doing, and the partners involved have to trust each other to create a seamless experience for themself and others. I think this counts as well for organisations and people as for services and products.

About trust - Who is the right partner for you?
This card (left front, right backside) is one of 44 jam cards

Trust is based on earlier signals, experiences, occasions and performances together. As a result, your intuition will be a relevant part of this ‘playing together’. So consequently, the performance you have at the moment will affect the trust of future performances. In conclusion, when people watch and listen to your play, it will affect the likeability if they will do this also in the future. The experience together will be a guarantee for trust.

The picture

This picture shows a Braun Hifi compact system from the end of the 1960s that stood for many years in our living room. It is designed by Dieter Rams who still is the biggest influence for Jony Ive the designer of the iMac, iPod, iPhone and many other apple products.

Braun audio 250 systems with signs of the time
Living room in mid of the 1970s with the trusted system aside

I love the faded characters around the volume (Lautstärke) knob. It shows the signs of the time and the high usage of just this essential design element. The Braun system was for many years in our living room the central place to listen to music from the radio and the first singles and albums I bought.

The design is a masterpiece by Dieter Rams, and it is worthwhile to have a look at his design philosophy of what good design should be. The Ten Principles of Good Design are until today a great inspiration for designers (see link below).

At the end of the 90s, I had the opportunity to visit Dieter Rams in his house in Hamburg. I was impressed by the sober and nice designed interior, including most of his works and the humble, friendly and sympathetic person.
As a present, he gave me the last edition (Hifi – Die Letzte Edition, 1990) which are loose high-resolution pictures in an LP Box – I loved this Music Thinking.

The quote

WHEN THE MUSIC SUDDENLY STARTS IT CAN BE DIFFICULT TO RECOGNIZE WHERE WE ARE IN THE PROCESS AND WHICH IS THE RIGHT FOOT TO PUT FORWARD. THE BEST GUIDE, IN LAUNCHING A NEW DESIGN PROJECT, IS SOMETIMES JUST TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNER, CLEAR THE DANCEFLOOR, AND TRUST OUR INTUITION.

The quote by Tim Brown is taken from his book Change by Design and describes the difficulty for a client to trust the facilitators of change. I like the intended idea of dancing together with your client through the different phases of a project and the mental states we can encounter. So at a certain point, you have to trust the experts and move along with them. This means you have to trust your own intuition and the intuition of your partner.

The sonic trigger

The Sugarhill Gang is an American hip hop trio. Their 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight” was the first rap single to become a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rapper’s Delight was the first rap song to use a sample. Because there existed no precedent for clearing the rights of a single sample, they used it without permission.

The original samples are from “Good Times” by Chic. That was a popular record that DJ’s used who played at the block parties where rap got its start. The “Good Times” groove was easy to loop, creating a breakbeat that was perfect for MCs. But “Rapper’s Delight” didn’t just sample the beat; they clipped pieces of the original Chic song, transposed them and used snippets of it through the entire track.

However, the Sugarhill Gang wasn’t the first to borrow this riff – Supergroup Queen also used this bassline in their song “Another One Bites The Dust.”

The cues

The music thinking cues on this card are EMPATHY, AGILITY and REMIX.

The main cues in the performing phase (read more about Listen, Tune, Play and Perform) are AGILITY and REMIX. They are the driving force of delivery and change. But if there is no trusted connection with EMPATHY the performance might fail.

Some inspirational links

Radiomuseum Braun audio 250
Ten principles for good design by Dieter Rams
What is the Jam Cards?

Like what you have read above?

This is only one of the 44 cards. Get your own card set and use them in workshops or creative interactions. With the multiple triggers and many ways to combine the cards, there are inspirations for all kinds of usage.

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.  Yes, you can also buy them at Amazon.comAmazon.de, BIS Publishers, Bol.com and all the other online stores.

Boxed set 
44 cards
18.5 x 18.5 cm
ISBN 978 90 6369 514 9
29,00 Euro

Buchhandlung König in Köln, Boekhandel Scheltema in Amsterdam, Boekhandel Donner in Rotterdam
As seen in bookstores in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Köln.

more about the jam cards