Even without coherent words; music is a powerful communication tool. Composers throughout the ages have expressed and communicated complex emotions through this invisible, yet tactile medium.
Throughout my entire life; I have been exposed to music. My formal education began when I was young and I have been playing music consistently for nearly 30 years. It is easy for me to say that music has shaped my life and learning more than anything else (aside from my family influence, but they don’t count because they are not chosen).
Music helped me understand many concepts of math and science, as well as the complex human emotions in relationships. As I began my career in business; music was again there to serve as reference for my journey.
I have always liked the concept of SYNERGY – what we intellectually refer to as “the whole being greater than the simple sum of all the individual parts”. Since it comes from the Greek word synergos translated to mean ‘working together’; I can see why it is repeatedly used by managers to inspire us to create functional teams, find an extra gear, and work harder at finding and maximizing efficiencies so that Together Each Achieves More (overused acronym for TEAM). Synergy is not necessarily an efficiency gain as it is something extra that happens.
In music, when you play 4 tones at precisely tuned harmonic intervals called thirds, a fifth harmonic that is audible, yet not voiced, completes the chord. This is true synergy. Each note is good by itself, yet adding the other harmonics produces a richer, more complete chord.
We can apply this simple concept to business marketing by looking at a variety of efforts used to create revenue-generating transactions. These transactions can come from digital marketing alone, from a contest/promotion, a published article, or sales professional. When all of these are precisely layered and presented harmoniously; our message is naturally amplified and begins to resonate with more people than we previously thought. Those extra voices might be customer testimonials, additional PR, social sharing, and more. This buzz resonates with new people and spreads very efficiently to places we didn’t initially invest.
Another lesson I learned from music was that of SUPPORT. For most of the years I played clarinet; I was in the third and second sections and played slow-moving, long notes with the occasional counter melody. I thought it was dreadfully boring because I was only focused on my part. What kept me from quitting was hearing a recording of us playing a particular piece – I got to hear how my part supported and significantly contributed to the overall melody. Without it, everything sounded dull and thin.
Support is critical to building synergy anywhere. Synergy, harmony, and complexity often come directly from those seemingly dull and boring things like press releases, personal invitations to events, reply emails, return phone calls, etc. With so much attention placed on star players, highlight reels, Big-time CEO’s, and project managers; support roles often get overlooked or relegated to a remote back-office. Even worse, their compensations are hardly indicative of their true value. In an orchestral setting; all players are on the same stage, playing to the same audience.
I think every leadership team should take at least one course in music theory together in order to understand how these simple principles work to produce great companies that can resonate and inspire audiences throughout the ages.