Sing the world into existence — what startups can learn from aboriginal culture

There is a wonderful book by Bruce Chatwin called The Songlines. It is about the relationship between aboriginal songs and nomadic travel in Australia.

‘Sometimes’, said Arkady, ‘I’ll be driving my “old men” through the desert, and we’ll come to a ridge of sand hills, and suddenly they will all start singing. “What are you mob singing?” I’ll ask. And they’ll say “Singing up the country boss. Makes the country come up quicker.”’ The Songlines

I read this book in 1987 and this idea has stayed with me ever since.

The idea of the world not existing until we sing it into existence.

I applied the idea first as a theatre director

In theatre, it is a common requirement to describe a production a year or more before it exists. Festival programs and other marketing need descriptions, imagery and videos of the event way before the team has set foot in a rehearsal room.

We learned the art of describing something to already bring it to life in an audience’s mind. Enough to attract them to the stage when the time comes.

Over time, actors start working with the ideas, props appear, stage sets are constructed, lighting further paints the scene and soundtracks join up the magic invisible to the audience.

On opening night, we have sung the world into existence.

Startups begin with a story

All we have on the first day, is our story. It is the first MVP (minimum viable product).

It is free to build and already tests the idea with customers and other people that may want it in their life.

Over time, the story attracts people and resources. Prototypes materialise and people start to use them. They become more useful and delightful over time. They are packaged and marketed. They combine with other things to become new components of the human world.

But nothing happens until you start singing.

It is the first moment.


This post was created with Typeshare



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Phil Morle

Phil Morle

Deep tech VC — Main Sequence Ventures. Ecosystem builder. Maker. Director. Startup Scientist.