Cross-pollination in leadership

cross-pollination in leadership with Ilkka Mäkitalo

Can we be successful in more than one field? What about the multiple me’s we have developed in different areas? 

cross-pollination in leadership with Ilkka Mäkitalo

Today we are in Finland, my guest is  Ilkka Mäkitalo – musician, teacher, CEO, Co-Founder of Howspace and Conductor of Jyvaskyla Big Band

We chat about instruments,  jazz and how to inspire young talents to compose for a big band. And we talk about organisational memory, organisational learning, organisational dynamics and how to change the world with a digital platform for facilitating dialogue in different contexts, supported by AI. 

And we are talking about different meanings for AI when engaging people like artificial intelligence, applied improvisation and appreciative inquiry.

Ilkka shares his vision on leadership in a digital and remote world and how to grow an organisation above 17 people and raise venture capital of about 12 Mio with strong cultural guiding principles.

Listen to ‘cross-pollination in leadership’

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

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Music and the Brain

Music and the brain

Did you know that music can help you to rewire your brain? This episode is about the working of music on the brain and behaviour.

Music and the brain

My guest today is Artur Jaschke – neuromusicologist and professor for music-based therapies and interventions at the ArtEZ University of the Arts in Enschede and he also works at the neonatal intensive care at a hospital in Groningen, the Netherlands.

We talk about how you can use music and sound for the advantage of healthcare, wellbeing and brain stimulation. We elaborate on themes like empathy and listening to unknown music or music that you might not like in the first place and the effect on your thinking and the basics of innovation and improvisation that can also be applied in a business setting. So, music and the brain is a great combination.

And we also speak about the joy and benefit of learning a musical instrument, like the Shakuhachi and the impact it has on the wellbeing and self-therapy of everyone in a stressed-out busy workplace.

Listen to music and the brain

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

More about The Music Thinking Framework, the Jam Cards and the blog on musicthinking.com 

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Deep listening® with Sharon Stewart

Deep Listening with Sharon Stewart

This episode is about listening – deep listening®. My guest today is Sharon Stewart –  creator of sound works, musician, poet, researcher, piano teacher and deep listener. 

Deep Listening with Sharon Stewart

We learn about the Center for Deep Listening® at Rensselaer and the retreats that were held by composer Pauline Oliveros and the many ways to listen, for example like listening in dreams, embodied listening and that deep listening is about doing, writing, practising and experiencing.

We talk about ‘text scores’, guiding principles, and using this in a non-musical context. We also chat about the listening presence of leadership and that we all might benefit when this would shift from just ‘listening to’ to ‘listening with’.  

And Sharon shares with us her contribution to the ‘Listening guide for quarantine’ that was published at the beginning of the pandemic and an exercise of harmonious human interaction with sounding and listening that we also could do in a workshop situation.

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

More about The Music Thinking Framework, the Jam Cards and the blog on musicthinking.com

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Innovation patterns and improvisation in organisations

Innovation patterns and improvisation in organisations with Wolfgang Stark

This episode is about Innovation patterns and improvisation in organisations. Today, my guest is Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Stark – teacher and researcher specialised in organisational and community psychology and visiting fellow at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. 

With natural sounds, like birds and wind in the background, we talk about how to co-create the sound of a company based on the processes of the organisation and how a jazz band can bring organisational scores to life.

We also talk about the reactable an electronic table that can be played by non-musicians like an instrument to learn co-creation.

We also chat about the difference between learning and organising and the meaning of improvisation in business and society. And we learn how patterns of success translated to a card deck can be used in co-creation, innovation and change. In the end, we hear about the innovative invention of ‘the music box on a garden fence’ that started in corona times.

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Listen in to a short clip on Agility

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

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Music as a Catalyst for Change

Nifemi Aluko, Music as a catalyst for change

We talk with Nifemi Aluko – Founder and CEO of kpakpakpa and author of the book Press Play, Music as a catalyst for change.

Nifemi is a traveller between California and Nigeria and – as he calls – a Youtube inspired bedroom producer. We talk about his journey from a chemical engineer to an advisor for companies that want to enter the African market.

We learn about the size and the diversity of Africa, the high energy of woman entrepreneurship and the many languages, dialects, and communication between people across the continent. 

And we chat about the different pace in doing business and establishing relationships, and how the technique of sampling can bring new styles of music and nurtures the ability to collaborate with people from different places. 

Nifemi Aluko, Music as a catalyst for change

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

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Human-Centred Design Podcast

Human-centred design

Gerry Scullion, the founder of This is HCD, the global human-centred design podcast and international design community of change-makers, and Founder and CEO of This is Doing.com is talking with Christof Zürn

They chat about the interrelationship between Design and Music and what Design can learn from thinking like a musician. Gerry, as an ‘ex’ musician and songwriter himself, sees the world of Design very much within the same family as music.

They drill a little deeper into the Music Thinking Framework and learn more about the value it can bring to teams and organisations.

About Gerry

Gerry Scullion is CEO of This is Doing and Founder of This is HCD, a global podcast and design community.

This is HCD includes a large newsletter, 10+ podcasts on topics to enable change, an international Slack community, 12+ global community chapters around the world, a Premium Podcast, Design Conference and Online Events.

He has over 18-years professional design experience across a range of industries such as finance, healthcare, media, public services, social media and various startups.

He contributed to the book ‘This is Service Design Doing’ (O’Reilly 2018) focusing on chapters about effective prototyping, and embedding Service Design teams within organisations alongside 200 service designers from around the globe.

Up until mid-2020 he was Councillor for Ireland for Royal Society of Arts.

In a former life, Gerry released two-albums under the moniker of Minus Circus (Spotify), and worked with 13-time Grammy winning producer, Rafa Sardina and 1-time Grammy winner, Cheche Alara. He also sang on adverts for Regatta Clothes in the UK.

He has shared the stage with Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Roisín Murphy, The Coronas, Declan O’Rourke and Mundy. None of which would remember him, it was a fleeting moment, but it sounds cool to have here, right?

More from This is HCD – human-centred design

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:

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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