205 – Creativity in Constraints – Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

Posted by  Anecdote International —May 29, 2024
Filed in Anecdotes, Podcast

Boundless creativity can create stagnancy. Listen to hear how Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie demonstrate the importance of constraints in creativity.

In Episode 205 of Anecdotally Speaking Shawn tells a story from the documentary The Greatest Night in Pop involving Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. The story centers around the collaborative creative process behind the song We Are The World.

The story illustrates the importance of constraints in creativity. Mark and Shawn use this point to explain how business objectives can create your story constraints and discuss how understanding context influences the use of stories in a business setting.

They further discuss how the delivery and detail of a story shape its significance, meaning and application in a business setting.

You can see the full story unfold at 10 minutes and 46 seconds in the Netflix Documentary The Greatest Night in Pop.

For your story bank

Tags: constraints, creativity, songwriting, music

This story starts at 1:08:

They had the guy from Boomtown raps in there and giving a talk to everyone. So he was revving everyone up and telling them why they should be doing it. But the thing that grabbed me, so I’m watching this and Lionel Richie’s kind of the orchestrator of the whole thing. And he’s managed to get Michael Jackson to work with him to write the song. Michael Jackson didn’t play an instrument. He did everything just by humming and making sounds, whatever was in his head, he was able to make a sound that represented that. And so he’s sitting down, they’ve got two weeks to write the song. They’re under a bit of pressure now. And Lionel Richie says, “Hey, Michael, what sort of song do we want?” And he’s at the piano and he says, is it like a soul tune? He plays this bit of a soul and they both go, no, no. And then they go, what about an anthem? And they do the Star Spangled Banner and no, no, that’s not it. And then Lionel Richie goes, oh, well, what about Rule Britannia? And they both looked at each other and went, yeah, that’s it, that’s a template for this song. And when you listen to the song it has a real strong dirgy sort of beat, if you like. And you can hear Rule Britannia in it. But what really struck me was that by creating a template to say, okay, this is the ballpark of what we’re aiming for, they created constraints for themselves. And then within those constraints, they could write a song.

About  Anecdote International

Anecdote International is a global training and consulting company, specialising in utilising storytelling to bring humanity back to the workforce. Anecdote is now unique in having a global network of over 60 partners in 28 countries, with their learning programs translated into 11 languages, and customers who incorporate these programs into their leadership and sales enablement activities.

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