Want to Innovate? Write a Song


A fun and engaging way to bring innovation to your business and your team. Walk your team through this songwriting workshop to unleash your creativity.

The Reason For The Rhymes

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The Reason For The Rhymes

It’s one thing to say “be innovative” and something completely different to BE innovative. Most of us need a little help along the innovation journey and this new book, The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs by Cliff Goldmacher provides a fun and inspiring guide to bringing more innovation to your business.

Who is Cliff Goldmacher?

Like most songwriters, Cliff Goldmacher isn’t exactly a household name, but you’ve probably heard his work more often than you realize.  His songs have been recorded by Grammy Winning and platinum-selling artists in genres ranging from blues, country, pop, and jass to classical crossover.  Cliff’s collaborators include Keb’Mo, Ke$ha, Mickey Hart (The Grateful Dead), and Lisa Loeb.  His music can be heard on NPR’s “This American Life” and in national advertising campaigns. 

Most recently, he’s transformed his songwriting process into a TED talk and innovation workshops that he delivers to hundreds of corporations. 

This book breaks down the songwriting process and gives you the tools you’ll need to write songs yourself.  This way, you’ll gain a set of creative, problem-solving, and communication skills that will help uncover your hidden innovation skills.

What Does Songwriting Have to Do With Innovation?

Songs are one of the most powerful communication tools that we can all relate to.  Early in the book, and in his workshops, the author asks you to think about your favorite song from the summer after your senior year in high school. 

“You’re driving, the radio is playing and your favorite song comes on. If you were to hear that song right now, you’d be back in your car, and every one of your senses would be alive.”

The Reason for the Rhymes posits that innovation isn’t inventing new things, per se, rather it’s the idea of commercializing creativity.

In a recent interview, Goldmacher explains his road to linking songwriting with innovation. 

“I started with this idea that songwriting develops a certain set of skills that are good for business teams. That’s kind of all I had because I’d been doing these workshops for business teams, getting them to write songs, and I knew it was working. So I started to think to myself, ‘Well, what are the benefits of teaching yourself to write songs in a larger context?’ I was thinking about creativity and communication, and collaboration, and even empathy.” 

Yes — You Can Be a Songwriter!

You might think that you aren’t capable of writing a song. But like most things, once you learn the process behind songwriting, you just might surprise yourself at how creative you can be. 

Goldmacher says that the ability to innovate isn’t some mystical activity. “In fact, when broken down into its component parts, innovation — like songwriting — is simply a combination of skills that we already possess.

In The Reason for the Rhyme, Goldmacher covers seven specific skills of songwriting to help you enhance your ability to innovate:

  1. Laterally thinking

  2. Creativity

  3. Communication

  4. Empathy

  5. Collaboration

  6. Risk-taking

  7. The diffusion of ideas

How to Apply Your Songwriting to Your Business

The first part of this book warms you up to the possibility of actually giving songwriting a try as a way to inspire you for the possibility of using this songwriting process toward increasing innovation inside your business and your teams.

And, the second part of the book walks you through the songwriting process as it would apply to a business environment;

  • Learn how to leverage the power of metaphors to inspire lateral thinking

  • Apply your metaphors to conversational language to clearly communicate a new idea. 

  • Create a hook in the form of a chorus that consistently repeats your message.

  • Use empathy to connect with your audience. Learn to clearly describe how they are feeling.

  • Use collaboration to share and build on ideas and make them stronger.

  • Put yourself out there, take the risk, and perform your song.

  • Diffusion involves spreading the message of the song or innovative idea throughout the organization.

DIY Your Innovation Process or Play With a Group

Sure, you can grab this book and play around with this songwriting innovation process on your own. But I think this would be so much more fun to do as a group.  

And here’s the best part. You don’t have to be in the same room to do it. This process is one that is easily adapted to today’s virtual work environment. 

Are You Brave Enough to Innovate?

I have to admit that I struggled with this book on my own. While I completely understood and embraced the idea of using songwriting as a way to spark innovation and engage teams, I simply didn’t have the fortitude to run through these exercises on my own.

However, I do believe that this is exactly the kind of exercise that would be a wonderful way for businesses of all sizes to step out of the challenges of the times and bring some joy and creativity to their business and their life.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

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