Solving Technical Challenges: Just Like Making Music

Calligraphy pen on a music sheet

25 Oct Solving Technical Challenges: Just Like Making Music

Hostworks aren’t known as the digital roadies just for the fact that we work behind the scenes to make the customers perform at their best. We’ve got more than our fair share of great musicians in the business! Interestingly, there are similarities between the way we approach solving technical challenges and the way a musician approaches theory and composition. Strategist Stephen Morel is also a master of the keyboard, and explains just how the two are linked.

When the creative minds at Hostworks tasked me with writing about the similarities between music and technology challenges, it took me by surprise. But the more I have thought about it, the more I see something in it!

Music: creativity and skill

Above all, if you want to excel in the musical world the art and discipline of listening is non-negotiable:

  • Listen carefully to what you create and reflect
  • Listen broadly for inspiration from a wide variety of composers, genres and artists
  • Listen narrowly to specific areas to develop expertise
  • Listen purposefully to answer specific questions
  • Have other’s listen to what you create and provide feedback

It may seem obvious, but it’s listening that allows you to gather the knowledge, ideas and inspiration to solve the musical composition problem.

Honouring tradition is important, but so is the freshness of creativity. The rules, nomenclature and norms from those who have gone before should be studied and practiced, but it’s necessary to innovate as well. And don’t neglect the fact that creativity is a process. While there will be flashes of brilliance, composers must identify the habits, routines and processes they undertake regularly. And let’s face it, talent is not a substitute for hard work.

Musical composition is all about tension and release, knowing when to use conflict to come up with creative solutions and when to foster harmonic unity. There’s no correct amount to use, it’s up to the skill and taste of the composer.

Finally, you must know your audience. The timbres, tonalities and harmonic basis for a pop song is wildly different from a Chinese folk tune. It comes down to understanding the audience and choosing the right palette.

Technology: innovation and knowledge

Hopefully as you’ve been reading you will have started to realise that if you substitute technology for music in the sentences above the exact same principles hold true.

When we are faced with a challenge, the first thing we do is listen. Listen to the client’s problem, listen to the client’s desired outcome. When we start working on a solution the listening doesn’t stop. There are so many gifted technical practitioners in our business so we make sure we get as many involved as possible. Listening is the cornerstone of solving our client’s challenges.

As we start formulating solutions, we often start with what may be a traditional approach to the problem. But we know that innovation is what sets us apart. Our ability to be creative in the way we tackle challenges, but to also make sure that innovation is done within the parameters and constraints before us.

In the same way as a musician, we also have to understand our audience – not the client, but our client’s audience. But perhaps it’s better to say we need to understand the desired outcome. Everything we do has to focus on what will work best for the client’s customers and the business needs.

So you can see there’s more than a passing similarity between these two pursuits! As your digital roadies we take an innovative and creative approach that can only work because of our deep knowledge of the systems we work with. To find out more, contact our team today.

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