What do music, ants and contract management all have in common?

Katie Cook


by Katie Cook

Music, ants and contracts seem worlds apart.  However. recently I listened to an NPR ted talk where Professor Deborah Gordon (http://web.stanford.edu/~dmgordon/), a Stanford University professor, talks about how music and ants are related.  You can listen to this NPR podcast here: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=3&islist=true&id=57&d=04-24-2015 .


Professor Gordon was always interested in finding patterns in processes that seemed disordered and chaotic.  This interest led her at first to become interested in music.  She was surprised to find that the masterpieces of famous composers such as Bach were guided by many patterns and rules, such as the rules of counterpoint.  According to the rule or pattern of counterpoint, any one note can only follow certain other notes.  Later, Professor Gordon found that the behaviour of ants creates patterns in a similar way to how music follows rules.

Ants in the desert get most of their water from the seeds they eat.  In order to obtain these seeds they must venture out of their nests.  As they are exposed to the sun while they forage they become less hydrated - they must ‘spend water to get water’. To ensure they don’t dehydrate they regulate their foraging. One way in which they do this is by touching the antennae of other ants on the way back to the nest if they have found food. An ant will leave the nest only if they meet enough ants coming back who have found food. Their behaviour follows an algorithm which works for their survival.

In a similar way to how Professor Gordon’s interest in music led her from investigating music to studying ants, the founders of ContractRoom, Emil Stefanutti and Peter Thomson met one another through a connection with music. Now they are working together to improve the contracting and negotiation process; just like music when contracting is conducted by and follows proper rules and procedures it becomes more agreeable.

Emil and Peter met through a common connection involved with Miami Music Project (‘MMP’), which uses music as an instrument for social transformation, empowering children to acquire values and achieve their full potential, positively affecting their society through the study and performance of music. MMP’s slogan is “Composing better lives”. MMP provides underprivileged children access to musical instruments and instructors so they can learn the rules and underlying patterns of beautiful music. Emil later became the chairman of this non-profit organization that continues to improve the lives of many young children. So at the heart of Emil and Peter’s relationship is the desire to improve the lives of others.

Emil and Peter have carried this desire into their work at ContractRoom. In fact, the mission statement for ContractRoom is to “make the world more agreeable”. And their product tagline, “Negotiate Less, Agree More”, was coined by Emil and Peter in the early days of the company while on a ‘road trip’ to Manhattan. While sitting at a diner in downtown New York they were discussing their passion to help others with ContractRoom. They realized their customers wanted most was not necessarily to ‘negotiate better’ but rather to ‘negotiate less, agree more.’ If people could be assisted in orchestrating a more streamlined process of negotiation, their lives would indeed be much more agreeable!

ContractRoom continues to stay true to its mission. ContractRoom’s product removes the pain of endless back-and-forth in negotiation by leveraging machine learning. That is, ContractRoom can “learn” how agreement is reached and how decisions are made in companies. The system will effectively guide users through negotiations, with realtime feedback on their decision-making in relation to all past agreements executed under similar conditions. Therefore, negotiators no longer have to operate in a vacuum; instead, benefitting from the “collective intelligence” of their peers, which will lead to better business outcomes.  ContractRoom’s machine learning capabilities, like music and ants follow algorithms to assist its users with Predictive AgreementTM.

Much like MMP provides instruments and access to instructors to children so they can learn the rules, patterns and algorithms of music and create delightful sounds, ContractRoom gives you the tools you need to orchestrate your contracting in such a seamless fashion that it makes for beautiful happy contracting… and that should be 'music to our ears'!

Find out more about ContractRoom and/or book a free demo of our collaboration software / contract management software at www.contractroom.com, or click here: Let's Talk

ContractRoom, home of #HappyContracting – making the world more agreeable one happy contract at a time. “Negotiate less, Agree More”!

About the author

Katie Cook

Katie Cook

Katie Cook is Director of Marketing, Communications and Legal Standards at ContractRoom. Originally from the east coast of Australia, she has a background as an Attorney having practiced in both public and private practice in Brisbane and Melbourne. Katie completed studies in journalism and is now combining her legal and writing skill sets in her role.

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