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


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, BIS Publishers, 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

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 hear 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 phase is the first of the four phases 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 Pavilion at Biennale di Venezia 2017
Deep Listening Institute Pauline Oliveros

Like what you have read above?

The ‘Listen Card’ is only one of the 44 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. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is JamCards-transparent-1024x683.png

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

Buy the Jam Cards at, BIS Publishers, and all the other online stores.

Get into contact

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.

How to use music thinking for organisational change

How to use music thinking for organisational change

Learn how to use music thinking for organisational change and to bridge agile, branding, service design and branding.

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 projects, teams and organisations. How to use music thinking for organisational change, in your team or organisation.
Please contact us for more details and possibilities to tune it to your organisational needs.

More training, workshops and programmes:
Experience music thinking in a workshop

Music Thinking Workshop for communication experts

In May we did one-day music thinking workshop for a very energised team of about 22 communication experts in a great venue in the black forest of Germany.

We started the day with some Music In You exercise by letting the participants write down and cluster their favourite songs + artists. These songs are also put together in a Spotify Playlist.

After a short introduction to Music Thinking and the Music Thinking Framework, we continued with an individual Serendipity Lab exercise with the Jam Cards.

The findings from the results were first discussed in duos. Then as a next step, the discussion was brought further and iterated upon in quartets. Each quartet was based around one of the six cues of Music Thinking.

After the lunch break, we did a Paper Creativity Session to introduce the participants to the concept of leadership and followership. They practised the basics of creativity interaction: listen, guide and support.

We used A4 paper as an instrument to make the interaction inclusive. Did you ever play on an A4?

Eventually it was time to get back to the quartets and to REMIX all the gained knowledge. We closed the day with 1 minute performances by each quartet.

A lot of smiling faces and an energised team afterwards: What a great energetic Music Thinking workshop in a beautiful environment!

Find the right approach for bridging service design with branding, agile, service design and organisational change

We offer you a custom-made programme designed around your particular objectives. We will guide you through service design and the music thinking framework. We can advise you how to bridge silos in your organisation and combine service design with brandingagile and organisational change.

Contact us: We are happy hearing your specific question or need.

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 approach was ‘from serendipity lab to idea rap’. First, get inspired by the jam cards and the six triggers that are on each card. At the end the participants made a rap version of their idea pitch.

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

Medinge Think Tank doing a Serendipity Lab in a music thinking workshop

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.

Medinge Think Tank doing a Serendipity Lab in a music thinking workshop. Working in duos.
Medinge Think Tank doing a Serendipity Lab in a music thinking workshop. Writing the lyrics for the idea rap.

Here is a short video that shows the whole process from serendipity lab to idea rap.

For more information on the Medine Group and Brands with a Conscience:

Music Thinking in Berlin – zwei neue Workshops


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

Moderation: Christof Zürn, Autor der Music Thinking Jam Cards und Gründer von, 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

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

Creativity, or how can we waltz with complexity?

There are many books written about creativity and creativity is not just a skill or a magic wand that helps us when we are desperately looking for solutions for big problems. There are many ways of being creative, and this can be in small and simple but also in complicated or even complex situations.

There is a big difference between complicated and complex. For the former, it might help to reduce the complicated elements in smaller simpler units (like it is done in agile development), for the latter that is not possible. It needs a different way of creativity.

The Jam Card

The ‘Creativity’ Jam Card – Music Thinking Jam Cards

There is no simple solution to a complex problem. Instead of looking for the next simple quick fix for something that is nearby, we should think about how to understand the complexity, what level of complexity do we experience and how is the complexity changing. This means complexity is not a problem to be solved but a system you can only understand when you are a part of the system and try to change it. This needs creativity in many dimensions and many senses. It’s like dancing the waltz with a complex system, having fun in mutual changing development instead of analyzing and trying to fix it. So have fun with complexity, embrace the paradox.

The picture

  This is a snapshot I did with my iPhone on a Vintage Guitar Show in the Netherlands. Besides many guitars from decent to crazy, there are also many accessories to tune, maintain or enhance your guitar, amp or yourself. One of these is the Gizmotron. The Gizmotron, is an effects device for the electric guitar. It was invented in 1969 and patented by the English rock musicians Kevin Godley and Lol Creme in 1975, whilst they were members of the British rock group 10cc. Taped or permanently attached to the body of an instrument, the Gizmotron uses small, motor-driven plastic/rubber wheels to make the strings vibrate, yielding resonant, synthesizer-like sounds from each string. Plagued with design and manufacturing problems, the Gizmotron did not live up to expectations and was a commercial failure. In this regard, it became a collector’s item.


The quote

Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird – that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple complicated is commonplace – making the complicated simple, awesomely simple – that’s creativity.

This is a great quote from Charlie Mingus, a great musician and bass player. He understands that creativity is not just a single trick (being weird or different) but part of a bigger system and Johann Sebastian Bach is a great example. It also shows that Mingus is looking far more than his Jazz experience to the area of classical or baroque music. That Mingus was an inventive innovator with a broad view not only in music can be seen in the inspirational links below, he was also a cat lover.

The music

The Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 1046–1051, original title: Six Concerts à plusieurs instruments) are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt in 1721. They are widely regarded as some of the best orchestral compositions of the Baroque era. Bach used the “widest spectrum of orchestral instruments … in daring combinations,” as Christoph Wolff has commented.

“Every one of the six concertos set a precedent in scoring, and every one was to remain without parallel.” Heinrich Besseler has noted that the overall forces required (leaving aside the first concerto, which was rewritten for a special occasion) tally exactly with the 17 players Bach had at his disposal in Köthen. source: wikipedia

Here is a side story: when my daughters were young, I made for them mixtapes with the most different musical pieces. From classical to Punk, Jazz, Rock or Pop to instrumental, German, Italian and English songs. Among others, there was also the excerpt of the Brandenburgische Konzerte you hear above. My eldest daughter walked daily with a cassette recorder through our apartment. One day when we had guests and were sitting on the table, she entered the room with her recorder, put it on the table and was explaining: ‘and this is Bach’, then she left the room and an astonishing group of people thinking about the well educated and musically talented little girl.


The cues

SCORE, JAMMIN’ and REMIX are three cues that connect with complexity. They live in the solution space and have the potential to quickly prototype and iterate new possibilities. JAMMIN” with the power to invent, listen and create, SCORE with the power of visualising the outcome or documenting the hypothesis and REMIX as the master of shipping, of creating something of value to use or perform. See here: how the cues connect with the Music Thinking Framework.

Some inspirational links:

John Maeda the laws of simplicity
Gizmotron 2.0
Charles Mingus Cat Toilet Training Program

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,, and

How do we get into action and avoid the fear of making mistakes

Do not fear mistakes. There are none. Miles Davis

Why do we sometimes fear mistakes? Everybody knows this or at least was in a situation where you got stuck into something. Especially when we are in a new position or new environment we sometimes feel limited and have the feeling to avoid making missteps or mistakes. And also when we experience the overwhelming possibilities, limitations, rules, or urgent things that we have to do, something holds us back to move. Because it gives us an overload of data and as a matter of fact no energy to move. So why not just start and trust ourself?

The Activity Card

The ‘Activity’ Jam Card – Music Thinking Jam Cards

Sometimes action speaks louder then words and the basic idea is to keep playing instead of stopping to talk. There are two lines of thoughts here. One is about getting in action without too much holdback from anything and the other is how can we develop if we don’t make mistakes. An exercise to the former could be to focus on ‘what is not the problem’ or asking yourself or your team ‘what is the emerging energy or strength in the room where you all can work with’. To the latter, just take any action even if it feels like a mistake and sees it as a pivot point to change directions or a learning experience to get better.

The picture

This is a picture from the streets of Riga. I made this picture while being in Riga for a presentation on Design Week. While walking to the streets I heard from a distance the nice sounds of the street musician playing on the tuba, when I finally saw the player I recognized that the instrument completely covered his face. He was not only visually united with his instrument but also playing without any restrictions. This picture for me is also a symbol that when you are prepared and ready you are able without any further planning to get into action. I believe that every one of us has a certain level of readiness to take the next steps. As an organisation, we have to find out what our level of action is. One possibility to find out is to learn an instrument and play (Ever tried the Ukulele?). There are many examples that were playing together and not talking can lead to better outcomes then logical thinking and arguing.

The quote

Do not fear mistakes. There are none.

Miles Davis is one of the biggest inspirations for me. Most of the musicians were talking about Miles as the ‘best listener who ever led a band’, he heard what everybody else was playing and with his voice and the ability to show new possibilities he was the glue to make it sound like a whole band. His instructions were famous in being vague, showing the right direction and also leaving enough freedom for own interpretation. So if you don’t believe that there are any mistakes everything is possible.

The music

This is a take-out from one of the most famous recording sessions of the album Kind Of Blue from 1959. We hear the quintet playing. We hear the start of Freddie Freeloader and some noise right before the tape starts, ‘take 1, no title’ so the title was not yet decided. After a few seconds, the recording stopped and we hear Miles ‘It is too fast’, but also the recording engineer that reminds Miles not to move away from the microphone. Freddie Freeloader is one of the most played jazz standards in the world and it is very charming to hear how this great recording started – with a mistake.

The cues

This card is connected with JAMMIN’, the power to take what you have and bring it to the table or rehearsal room. It also contains the unlearning factor, the question of what do we have to unlearn if we are stuck. EMPATHY helps us to see that making mistakes makes us human and that it’s not a big deal to make mistakes or commit that you have made some and encourage others to try and get into action. This is also the precondition of AGILITY because you can never be agile when there is a lot holding you back while performing. So REMIX is the performance of the best you can do now. See Music Thinking Framework for an explanation of the cues.

Some inspirational links:

Some Music Thinking on Branding and Miles Davis
Quality, innovation, collaboration, inspiration. Have a look into 1959

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 for everything that will happen. ‘Music Thinking’ lets people work and play together in a new way with inspirations from the rich world of music. Find more quotes like Do not fear mistakes. There are none. Miles Davis

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,, and