Tag Archives: Christof Zürn

Improvisation in Business

improvisation in business

On the Music Thinking website there is a new post about Improvisation in Business:

Many people say that our times are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – some people call it the VUCA times. When making plans they try to execute them until reality comes into play. As a result, they try to quick fix everything as long as possible. Some people call this improvisation. But improvisation is much more than just a repair mode. Improvisation can also be the start of the creative or change process to design for the VUCA times.

The blog post describes different improvisation practices, the improvisation in business course of the University In Krems and how Improvisation is connected with the Music Thinking Framework and how to use it in business.

read further on http://improvisation.business

A collection of different meanings of Epiphany – what does Epiphany mean?

“Western churches generally celebrate the Visit of the Magi as the revelation of the Incarnation of the infant Christ, and commemorate the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6″. (wikipedia)

But there are more meanings of epiphany, here a selection” :

  • EPIPHANY is the sudden realisation or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.
  • ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!
  • EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realising that some unseen force in space was making it move.
  • DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realisation, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realisation in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.
  • In RELIGION it is used when a person realises their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.
  • WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion: The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.
  • HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realisation of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.
  • In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realising the answer to a koan.
  • BUDDHISM Buddha finally realising the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.
  • WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).
  • EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
  • EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.
  • HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.
  • HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realises he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.
  • The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.
  • Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

Since 2011 CREATIVE COMPANION is sending out epiphany greetings on the 6th of January.

Epiphany 2019 – Limitation as creativity trigger

Now nine years in a row I did not send any Christmas cards or new years wishes. As my friends know I use the 12th and last day of the Christmas season to wish you all the luck for the new year. Happy Epiphany!

For all of you who hear the Epiphany story for the first time, below is a copy from the last years with some explanation and examples of Epiphanies.

Look back to 2018

The last year was a year of full-swing creativity and many activities, here I want to just mention a few.
The highlight was the publishing of the Music Thinking Jam Cards by BIS publishers and the launch of the new Music Thinking Website with the music thinking framework and a blog. Followed by a music thinking masterclass at the design thinkers conference and an evening for the designers DNA (creative leadership platform). All of this was a real boost of Music Thinking, and as an effect, we got a lot of response and reactions even until Japan. Hope this will lead to new developments.

After nearly 3 years I stopped as Chief Design Officer at the Design Thinking Center in Amsterdam to focus more on Music Thinking and other activities. I did so many workshops, design sprints and training in the last 3 years (maybe more than 250 workshops days) it needed a break.

Further, I started the collaboration with Faebric a cooperative focused on crafting value systems with blockchain and did some training for the Design Thinkers Academy (Paris, Amsterdam, Dubai).
Let’s not forget the two concerts of Raum-Musik für Saxophone on the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb and a lot of other musical collaborations.
At the end of the year, we moved into a new house and said goodbye to gas and oil – the new full-electric car will be ready next week.

Wishing you many Epiphanies in 2019

The epiphany story of this year is about limitations or better the possibilities that appear if we are open to focus and make the best of all the limitations.
And I think there will be many because the way we live is not compatible with nature and the planet. I would like to inspire myself to see the limitations as new starting points for great things. I wrote on the music thinking blog a ‘behind the cards’ story with the Limitations card as the trigger. Read the story: Limitation as the starting point for creativity

Hope you like it!

All the best for 2019, have a great year
Christof Zürn


A collection of different meanings of Epiphany:

  • EPIPHANY is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.
  • ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!
  • EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move.
  • DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realization, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realization in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.
  • In RELIGION it is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.
  • WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion: The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.
  • HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realization of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.
  • In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realizing the answer to a koan.
  • BUDDHISM Buddha finally realizing the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.
  • WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).
  • EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
  • EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.
  • HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.
  • HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realizes he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.
  • The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.
  • Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

Music Thinking Blog

Today we launched the Music Thinking blog on Musicthinking.com 

Now is the time for a blog about music thinking.  Since the new music thinking website went online, there is a lot to share, and so we decided to start a blog about everything music thinking. We will share updates about workshops, programmes, new templates, tips and tricks and you can read all the 38 stories from ‘Behind the Cards’ – the background thoughts about every inspiration card of the Music Thinking Jam Cards.

musicthinking-blog

Visit the Music Thinking Blog

World Saxophone Congress video

For the third time in a row, I attended the World Saxophone Congress. After St. Andrews (Scottland) and Strassbourg (France), the triannual congress was held in Zagreb (Croatia). With Raum-Musik für Saxophone we played two concerts. Here the two videos with thanks to James E Cunningham for the videos.

Grič Tunnel, Zagreb

French Pavillion, Zagreb

A tactile approach to Service Design Thinking – Design Thinking & Lego Serious Play

Service Design Thinking is an approach to problem-solving that allows individuals to rapidly identify challenges and then go big on ideas before picking one or two to ideate, test and evaluate. 
Principles are:
  • Holistic – seeing the big picture in relation to details
  • Empathy – human-centered focus on real needs
  • Co-creation- iterative approach with stakeholders involved
At the intersection are ideas that last, ideas that are surprising, ideas that work. Before moving into the solution space of the Design Thinking process we heavily rely on words: spoken or written.  But words have two inherent limitations.
  1. Firstly most of us filter what we say, only articulating things that will make us sound smart, intelligent and well educated.
  2. Secondly, the part of most necessary for Design Thinking to work, the Limbic System where passion, music, creativity, and love sit – does not have any language capabilities. In other words, it’s almost impossible to articulate love, music, feelings and conceptual ideas.
One of the challenges in Design Thinking is to visualize all the words people use and make them meaningful for everyone involved. We use a set of tools, canvases, visual techniques and a lot of different materials to play with possible solutions and tinker with a prototype. One of the materials we use in prototyping is Lego.

Design-Thinking-Lego-Serious-Play 2

Service Design Thinking and Lego Serious Play

But there is more to Lego than just playing. Lego Serious Play, the methodology created by LEGO over ten years ago, is an approach that allows teams to find creative solutions to open-ended challenges. The real strength of Lego Serious Play is that we don’t use words, we use ‘art’ and creativity to express something – in this case Lego. It allows for more complex and creative concepts and ideas to be modeled.

Design-Thinking-Lego-Serious-Play 1

Building models with Lego Serious Play

Together with Ben Wickham we thought about how we could combine the strength of Design Thinking and Lego (Serious) Play to design ‘a tactile and playful approach to Service Design Thinking’.
We are going to crash these two concepts together: taking Design Thinking as the roadmap and Lego (Serious) Play as the way we execute. The result is a tactile approach to Design Thinking, for those groups and challenges that require a more intensive and deeper approach.
On the 28th & 29th March, at the Design Thinking Centre in Amsterdam, Ben Wickham & myself will lead a two-day workshop to help you get to grips with the basics of both approaches and their collaborative power. To help us, we have identified a global challenge to address: that of urbanization. If we can fix that – we can fix anything…
We would love to see you.
Click here to book, or if you have any questions, drop Ben or me a line.
See you end of March.

Serendipity & Strategy – Epiphany 2018

Also this holiday season I did not send any Christmas cards or new years wishes. As my friends know this is not about being impolite, but a tradition to do a mailing on the 6th of January and not earlier. 

Today is Epiphany day – the 12th and last day of Christmas. For me it is also the day of changing perspective – a magic pivot. The holiday season is over and we can focus on the coming year.  A good moment to wish you many Epiphanies in 2018!

Epiphany-2018_card_blog

Epiphany is not only the last day of Christmas, but also stands for an experience of sudden and striking realisation. The word epiphany originally referred to insight through the divine. Nowadays this concept is used much more often also without such connotations, but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside. More on this see below.

Serendipity & Strategy

The last year was full of epiphanies for me – some good, some bad. Some came ‘all of a sudden’ and some were a logical change that ‘step by step’ approached without noticing in the first place (or wanting to notice ;-). In any case at the beginning of this year I got my freedom back to work again independently as Creative Companion.
And this also gave a boost to finish an idea that too long was postponed: to create an Inspirational Card Set based on Music Thinking principles (as presented in October last year) and the Music Thinking Framework.

IMG_8786-2

First prototype of the Music Thinking Inspiration Cards for Serendipity & Strategy.

In december we started prototyping the Music Thinking Inspiration Cards and this January we will iterate to a set that can be tested in workshops. The idea is to use the cards in very different ways ranging from Serendipity to Strategy in direct connection with the Six Music Thinking Cues from Empathy to Remix of the Music Thinking Framework. The intention is to have the set ready for purchase after the summer vacation.

have a great year
Christof Zürn

PS: an extra project will be the relaunch of both sites:
www.creative-companion.com and  www.musicthinking.com


For all of you who hear the Epiphany story for the first time, below is  a copy from the last years with some explanation and examples about Epiphanies:

A collection of different meanings of Epiphany:

  • EPIPHANY is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.
  • PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.
  • ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!
  • EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move.
  • DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.
  • JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realization, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realization in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.
  • In RELIGION it is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.
  • WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion: The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.
  • HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realization of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.
  • In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realizing the answer to a koan.
  • BUDDHISM Buddha finally realizing the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.
  • WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).
  • EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.
  • EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.
  • HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.
  • HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realizes he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.
  • The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.
  • Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

I invite you to listen – Music Thinking in Service Design

This year the Design Thinking Conference in Amsterdam was held for the first time. With the theme of the conference – EMPATHY – THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES the organizers were aiming ‘to shake you up and enrich you with new insights, not just leave you comfortable and confirmed in your beliefs. No briefing to the converted, but experimenting, experiencing, having fun and being surprised.

In this regard I was doing one of the breakout sessions with the title:

I invite you to listen

“How can you have empathy with someone you don’t like or don’t understand. That is maybe the most difficult way of having empathy. One way to do this is to close your eyes and listen deeply to what they say. I invite you to listen, to a stranger, to the concept of music thinking and to everything that is around you.”

The Music in You
We started with a short exercise I call: ‘the music in you‘, this is to get to know each other, but also to see if we have a diverse group or not. So with sharing our favourite music and our least favourite music, we gave the stage to every participant to share one by one why they love the music they love.  The other participants were deep listening and empathising with that person, the music or both.  I have done this in many sessions and it is a great way to share things others may not know or like.

John Cage 4’33”
The next part was the introduction of the composer John Cage and his famous piece 4’33’’ from 1952; 4 minutes and 33 seconds of tacit (not playing) in three movements. I explained his quest for the total silence and the disappointment that there is not such a thing. We then did a rehearsal and experienced the piece from a performers point of view.

The Music Thinking Framework
As a third part of the one hour workshop I gave a very short explanation of the music thinking framework and especially two of the six the cues EMPATHY and SCORE which connected the theme of the conference and the score to the silent piece. Feel free to read my other post about the Music Thinking Framework.

I invite you to listen II

Performing John Cage 4’33”
After the lunch break we performed Cage 4’33’’ in front of the complete conference audience of approximately 100 people without telling them what Cage 4’33’’ is all about. What happend the more than 100 attendants of the conference were listening for 4 minutes and 33 seconds to a tacit performed by the Music Thinking Workshop Band. What they heard was not silence, they heard a musical piece, that was composed through their ability to listen what is in the presence.
Please click on the picture below to hear the recording of this memorable moment.

DTConf-433-@ChristofZuern.png

I conducted the piece like written in the score and giving a cue for every movement. What happened is that some of the people misread my last cue and thought the piece was over and started clapping, a nice moment and beautiful sound appeared that quickly faded away and gave the piece an extra tension.

There was no announcement before or after the piece explaining what we did or what the context is. So 4’33” was treated like a ‘normal’ musical piece. Like if you had a short musical intermission by, lets say a small piece from Bach, or a singer songwriter piece, you also would not explain what the piece exactly is about, you were just listening and enjoying.

I recorded the piece with my iPad and uploaded it directly on the John Cage platform. Here is the audio recording and a picture of participants including philosopher André Klukhuhn, who joined us in the workshop (he told me he once also conducted the piece ). We talked about the link between 4’33’ and what he called the ‘god shaped hole’.

Before-the performance.jpg

Right before the performance

During the performance

Performing John Cage 4’33”

thanks to all the participant & the performers of the ‘Music Thinking Workshop band’ you made this a memorable moment!

Christof Zürn, Creative Companion

 

Note: The next Design Thinking Conference will be held in Amsterdam on 11th and 12th of October 2018