I have a ton of playlists on Spotify. For instance, I’ve set up a playlist for artists from the North East (Sting, Sam Fender, Mark Knopfler, Maximo Park, Prefab Sprout), one for artists from Scotland (Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, The Skids, Gerry Rafferty, Biffy Clyro) and others for other areas of the country (Liverpool, Wales, Sheffield, London etc.). I have a playlist for songs that include UK placenames in their lyrics (Penny Lane by The Beatles, Stainsby Girls by Chris Rea, Fake Tales of San Francisco by Arctic Monkeys). I also have playlists that replay the set lists of some of my favourite gigs (The Jam, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Stereophonics).

Playlists are great. They give you instant access to your favourite tunes.

There’s only one problem with listening only to playlists: they can stop you from coming across any new music. So, when I’m working from my home office, I listen to BBC 6 Music and recommendations from my sons, so that I get to hear something different and find something new to enjoy and explore.

I don’t like everything I listen to – far from it – but every now and then I find something that chimes with me. As a result, I’ve found new favourites from artists including The Go! Team, Laura Marling, Teenage Fanclub, Michael Kiwanuka, Alabama Shakes, Phoenix, The Heartbreaks and others have made my life a little richer and more enjoyable.

Many management meetings, even strategy meetings, are like playlists – it’s the same tunes that are played and listened to each time. Or, to change the metaphor, you simply end up breathing in the same old fumes when you really need to open the windows and get some fresh air and fresh thinking.

The next time you have a strategy session with your team, what can you do to bring some new thinking and new ideas? Who could you invite to the meeting, what organisation could you visit, or what new shared experience could you organise? You might not engage with everything you see, hear or experience, but every now and then you might just come across something new that can take your organisation into a new direction that drives better performance.

Off The Record: Oh! You Pretty Things by David Bowie

This is the playlist song that I just happened to be listening to as I wrote this post…..

What are we coming to?

No room for me, no fun for you.

I think about a world to come,

Where the books were found by the Golden ones,

Written in pain, written in awe,

By a puzzled man who questioned what we were here for.