Get the Groove in your Design work, Part 3

This is the third stop on my tour in the landscape of music and design.


All good music is dynamic. Every good musician knows how to use it in her playing or singing. It’s about using differences in tempo, volume, intensity — letting the music breathe. It creates drama, it makes every part and every voice shine. A great conductor, producer or band leader knows how to use dynamics between instruments and voices.

In a workshop or a team process, we need dynamics as well. We need to alter between different working methods, tempos and roles. We need dynamic movement between abstract goals and specific details, between learning and creating, between seriousness and fun, between listening, talking, thinking and doing. As individuals, we tend to strive towards different ends of the scale, but no-one gets excited without the dynamics. Not even the most die-hard-doers would stand just doing things — without talking or thinking.

johanD2The Author

Having fun all the time would be very boring.

If you are planning a project or workshop, plan for the dynamics. How can you support a meaningful variation and interesting flow between different states? Do you need to add more drama in the beginning, in the middle or the end? Do you need to calm the extroverts down at a certain point, to give space to the introverts? When is the right moment for a solo?

And don’t forget the bridge, the common but still unexpected part in a pop song that adds some excitement before the last chorus. A bridge in a workshop could be an unexpected and inspiring moment, to build up the energy before the last workshop task.

The more dynamics you add, the more will people appreciate and remember different parts of a workshop.

And at last, plan for the end. Think about your best concert experience. Did they end with a crescendo, their most funky song, or their biggest hit? Or with a final un-plugged song? Great concerts can end in different ways, but the ends are certain parts in a well-directed dynamic drama.

To put some dynamics in this text, here are a few shorter explanations:


Find the hook in your design project — that little part that gets sticky, that you can’t help but think of, that get people hooked. It could be a detail that matters, a feature that people fall in love with, a special method, a specific challenge. Or it could be as simple as a project name.


Orchestrating a musical piece means steering all musicians toward a clear vision. A conductor of a symphony orchestra needs a clear vision — about the whole and every detail — a detailed script and the ability to inspire every musician to excel. As the performance or design task gets bigger and more complex, the need for a great conductor gets bigger too.


Music that is just smooth is rarely beautiful. To touch our heart, music needs some imperfection, unexpected elements, antagonism, resistance or sharp edges. As designers, we should not always strive for the simplest or smoothest solution. And in the design process, we must allow ourselves to struggle, to feel the tension between different ideas and perspectives.


The public performance. In the design world, it could be a big presentation, a pitch or the launch of a product or service. Your work meets the audience.

Dress Rehearsal

The last reversal before a gig, in front of a special audience. The checkpoint for the last details. Everyone is nervous, it feels awkward and fake. Usually, the performance sucks. Afterward, everyone is thankful for the dress rehearsal, as the real gig goes far better. Before a pitch, a design presentation or a launch — make a dress rehearsal. You will never regret it.

Related Posts

Part 1: Get the soul, Train your musical ear, Get the groove

Part 2: Enjoy a jam session, Embrace good solo performances, Tune in

Part 4: No matter the guitar gear, it’s all in your fingers, Putting a band together (coming soon)


Opeth, Ghost of Perdition.

Read more