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Chords and Code

Hobbies and interests, family, culture, television...all of these affect our behaviour in more ways than one. A child who watches many sci-fi shows will have a completely different approach while playing with peers than one who watches wrestling matches. Similarly, our hobbies and interests affects the way we create software solutions.

Chords and Code

When it comes to music, whether it's playing an instrument or singing - I need to be able to listen. Listening goes beyond just hearing, to catching cues that are just below the surface. How do I start singing at just the right key, land on the right note? How do I make a single breath last for a whole phrase? How do I create music not only with my instrument but also with the smallest facial expression?

I’ve always loved music, but took up its study much later than the genius age of three. While I cannot claim to be any sort of expert, I can share what I have learned so far.

I recently joined a classical choir, completely unable to read music. At the beginning, my mind would wander and I would miss some notes that were played on the piano. I had to learn to pay attention and hold notes in my memory in order to sing each of them and possibly predict the next note. Trust me, it was not easy.

At the start of a season, we would receive a new set of songs, then we put in a good amount of time practicing all the pieces for the concert. Honestly, since I could not read music, I was utterly terrified. But as we went through the songs, my mind became familiar with the notes even if the song was in Latin (which I do not understand). All I needed to worry about were my expressions and diction.

Music has influenced my style of work as well. As a software business analyst, I need to listen to many people, so something as simple as paying attention makes a great difference to the quality of my work. I could research as much as I want, but without the ability to listen and ask the correct questions, my research would simply be facts.

Like every piece of music, each software solution is unique to the business and to the end-users (who would be the audience, in the case of music). Therefore, the solution needs to be tailored to suit that uniqueness. And just by listening, small features become apparent and we can grasp the bigger picture.

A musician needs to be immersed in a piece of music to deliver it convincingly to his audience. In the same way, each time we work on a new software solution, we take time to get to know the business, the users, the problems and the possible solutions, so that we can deliver a tailored solution.

As a business analyst, I need to be able to understand the clients’ needs and translate them into requirements. These are then used by software developers to create different features in the system. With the ability to store and retrieve details about a business quickly, I can facilitate in-depth conversations, anticipate and suggest possible solutions to problems.

Music being one of my passions, I could go on and on. But I’d like to conclude by suggesting that everything we do outside our nine to five routine at work affects the way we solve problems. Whether it is an outdoor sport or playing Call of Duty with a group of friends, the teamwork and strategy needed to complete a Call of Duty mission can be applied to the work necessary to create a well tailored software solution. How do you link your interest to your work?

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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