Learning to write songs as a way of exploring and solving problems has the additional – and powerful – benefit of providing you with a set of critical skills for facing problems you haven’t yet anticipated. In essence, the more we open ourselves up to the creativity that songwriting introduces into in our lives and work, the more we’ll be future-proofing our problem-solving approach. Below are four ways that learning to write songs will help us with any and all issues that can – and undoubtedly will – arise in the future.
The ability to think laterally
Problem-solving approaches are infinite but it’s also human nature to rely on one particular approach which has served us well in the past. The problem is that as brokerage houses are fond of saying, “past results are no guarantee of future success.” Using songwriting to explore different ways of looking at the same problem can open up a variety of solutions that a prior “go to” approach might not reveal. Instead of thinking in our accustomed linear way, learning to write songs encourages lateral thinking which will allow us consider alternate approaches and paradigms in service of a novel solution to a novel problem.
Enhanced communication skills
Songwriting is one of the oldest and most effective forms of communication that humanity has. There’s a good reason that songs have lasted this long. They are a miraculously compact and meaningful way to communicate an idea. When it comes to solving problems, communication is a key factor in how a problem is not only described but also in how possible answers to your questions are presented. The better our ability to communicate, the greater the likelihood of convincing others to join us in our search for a solution.
The use of co-writing to create a song better than any one of the individual writers could have written on their own is a direct mirror of how effective collaboration works in a business context. Bringing in diverse experiences and points of view and allowing each participant to contribute their particular set of strengths to the effort increases by an order of magnitude the likelihood of a solving a future problem that lacks the precedent of an easy or familiar solution.
A willingness to take risks
When a business team steps out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill like writing a song, they are clearly taking a risk. This risk takes the form of vulnerability, the loss of control and the introduction of a certain amount of chaos into a well-ordered and productive routine. However, when my business teams complete their songwriting assignments and end up with a finished song just an hour or so after they’ve begun, it serves as a reminder that the reward on the other side of risk can be exhilarating. Signing on to solve an unknown problem can feel equally risky but the positive experience that a successful songwriting session brings provides an increased willingness to face the challenge – and risk – of solving a new problem.
The creativity, empathy, improved communication and collaborative skills that learning to write songs brings are a set of versatile and powerful tools. These tools work both for solving current “known” problems and, more importantly, they will work for future “unknown” problems where past solutions no longer apply.
Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.