Complexity Choir

Dan Siegel’s Complexity Choir exercise is an interesting anecdote when it comes to collaborative exercises and what design choices we make to enhance the user experience.

Here’s a brief run-down of the exercise.

  1. A group of strangers are asked to stand up and come forward to form a choir
  2. They are asked to all hum the same note. Stop.
  3. They are asked to plug their ears and sing whatever they want. Stop.
  4. They are asked to sing a song that they all know (e.g. “Row Row Row Your Boat”) and to harmonize freely, however they want. Stop.

It may be important as an ice breaker that they are taken through the steps above in sequence. What ends up happening is that the first humming exercise warms people up but is low energy because they try to find a common, droning sound and stick to it.

The second exercise gets the energy levels up but it’s chaotic and creates some anxiety and distress amongst the participants.

The last exercise makes everyone feel great, as they are able to harmonize but at the same time express each of their own individual voices. It is positive acoustic integration, something complex yet harmonious, something created together by everyone in the room.

It’s this embodiment of integration that we seek in our Jam design.