The Acapela B(r)and
Everybody loves music. We do, too. (Even Donald Trump thinks everybody loves music). Music has a positive effect on how we do things. It can push us, calm us down, or help us focus. It gets us into "the zone" just by listening to it. Many musicians even get into "the zone" when making music. It’s a flow activity.
So, when Heiki and I started building tools to make team collaboration better and more delightful, we immediately thought of names related to music. We came up with a bunch of different ideas. Polyphone, Impro, Jive, Cadence. Not good enough. How about Acapella? Acapella definitely struck a chord with us. As we looked into more audio-focused features like voice notes and voice messaging, the name began to make even more sense. Because there are different ways of writing the word in different languages, we decided to go for the simplified "Acapela" (conveniently, we were also able to get the .com domain for that...).
Music and Teamwork
Choosing a name for your product is never easy and very often, there is a point when you question your decision. However, with Acapela this has not been the case. It was rather the opposite experience: ever since picking the name, we have discovered even more connections between the worlds of music and work.
For instance, both are often best done in a team. Sure, Lang Lang is a great solo pianist and Einstein's work on relativity is mind-blowing. But for some things, you just need more people. How about performing Bohemian Rhapsody at Wembley or landing a rover on Mars? As a consequence of this collaborative aspect of music, there is a common language describing music and teamwork: "Let's have a jam session." "We have to find the right rhythm." "It feels out of tune." "That's the right cadence."
Music Principles for Work
This language connection of music and teamwork is great and lends itself to many comparisons. We asked ourselves if it’s possible to take it one step further. Ideally, could we derive some principles from the world of music to improve the way we work? Could those ideas help us build better tools for team collaboration? Here are some of our thoughts:
Like in music, in teamwork you want to have the right people in the right role: someone providing the beat, someone responsible for creative parts, and someone leading the whole band.
When thinking of team composition it’s crucial to have the right people in the room - or in our case, in Acapela. To collaborate productively, the setup must empower the right number of people to play together nicely, so that everyone finds the part matching their skills. For instance, it’s difficult to imagine The Beatles having six band members or John Lennon playing the drums.
Like in music, in teamwork you need to find the right balance between playing nicely together and giving enough space for an amazing solo from time to time.
Thinking of a band or orchestra playing together as a metaphor for teamwork, there should be time for individuals to shine. Very often, everyone on a team has their distinct super powers. There must be enough uninterrupted time for these virtuosos to do deep work, i.e. their solos. Keeping the right balance between collaboration time and focus time is crucial for each team member. For Acapela, this is an integral part of our mission. We want to enable remote and hybrid teams to have more focus time while staying connected with asynchronous meetings.
Like in music, in teamwork you don't want to have everyone playing the same tune. You want people to play different, individual tunes that fit well together.
When talking about meetings, playing the same tune equates to having the same opinion as everyone else or blindly following the most actively voiced opinion. Team dynamics are crucially important for the outcome and the decisions made. Whether it's because of groupthink, power dynamics or personality factors (e.g. extroverts vs. introverts), there are many reasons why the greatest ideas sometimes do not come out on top. With asynchronous conversations, Acapela helps to mitigate these influences by providing a more level playing field.
Make Teamwork Feel Like Music
For many people, a brand is just a name. It has to sound good. It should be easily recognizable and the logo should look nice. For us, it’s much more. Ultimately, it touches the core of what we’re trying to achieve with Acapela. How can we enable teams to work together more effectively, ideally achieving a flow state in their collaboration? How can we bring back more joy into their working lives? Can we make teamwork feel more like music?
Thanks for reading. For a sneak peak of what we’re working on, visit www.acapela.com. Stay tuned.