How songwriting can help with planning and strategy brainstorming.

When working with project or strategic planning it is essential to achieve consensus regarding overall goals and objectives and at least basic agreement when it comes to upcoming action points. Getting to that point can be challenging when dealing with groups made up of members with widely varying viewpoints, expectations, and areas of influence and interest. Communication is key to understanding each other and reaching agreement about priorities, but sometimes focusing exclusively on what should be done can lead to conflict between seemingly unreconcilable priorities or personalities.

One way to get around such blockages is to take the discussion in an entirely new direction by focusing on what should be avoided at all costs. Have group members try to come up with a range of possible negative outcomes as if they had jumped forward in time and they needed to write a blues or country song describing how things went wrong with the project or business. This should probably not include spouses leaving or dogs dying or pickup trucks breaking down, but it might be worth talking about the potential effects of losing of strategic suppliers or clients, or bad publicity, or significant failure of enabling services.

One does not need a guitar, cowboy boots, or a twangy voice to facilitate this type of discussion, and all should keep in mind that the goal is to identify and agree upon as many potential pitfalls as possible for the purpose of figuring out how best to avoid them.

Changing the mindset and clarifying the picture of what must be avoided in this fashion can help people move beyond their perceived differences to identify areas of common ground. This can improve overall communication and understanding within the group, and make subsequent discussions regarding what needs to be done more inclusive, productive, and efficient.

This article is written by Dane Thomas, Senior Business Consultant at ELITS.