Three people are in gallery view on a video call to discuss the Saylists project.
Rob Maguire and Zara Flynn of Accenture Interactive (top) and Anna Biavati-Smith (bottom). Image: Connor McKenna/

Why creative tech teams need to be ‘gutsy and relentless’

10 May 2021

Meet the team behind Saylists, a project using music playlists to aid children with speech and language therapy.

How do you marry creativity and technology to build something with societal impact? It requires finding the “right people” with “gutsiness, relentlessness, drive and passion”, according to Zara Flynn.

Flynn is a managing partner at Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive, which recently worked on a major new music-led initiative aimed at augmenting speech therapy for children. The Saylists project involved building a collection of playlists on Apple Music that could help with the repetition of difficult syllables, words and phrases.

“I think one of the most rewarding things about being in the creative business overall is we get to solve problems, but we get to solve them in a creative way,” Flynn said. “And that creativity, it comes in so many different forms.

“It’s about identifying the right types of people, the right gangs and the right teams that are going to help you realise your vision. So I think everybody coming together, having that gutsiness, that relentlessness, that drive and that passion, that’s definitely what I would say to people: find those skillsets and find the right people that are going to make your idea happen.”

‘It’s not often you get the world of a poet and the world of a mathematician working together to find the same thing’

Rob Maguire, who is creative director at Rothco, explained that the ‘saylists’ his team developed are all to do with repetition, and bringing the project to life required multidisciplinary skills.

“It’s based on the principle that repetition is a key factor in speech therapy,” he said. “Repetition happens in popular music all the time, so we asked could singing along help with practising your problem sounds.

“Primarily you look at it from a linguistic point of view, so you’re almost thinking like a poet and you’re finding the way a poet would break down words and phrases. How do you create something that is pleasing in a musical phrase?

“It’s things like assonance and alliteration. So it’s not very often that you get the world of a poet and the world of a mathematician working together to find the same thing.”

The team also worked with Anna Biavati-Smith, a specialist speech and language therapist, who highlighted the impact she believes Saylists will have.

“Something so big is exciting because Rothco came with an idea and I know that it will have a repercussion in many ways,” she said. “We’re talking about children, but speech and language is way more than that.

“Communication is phenomenal. In my mind, and I think in their minds too, they will see that this project will be much bigger than just children.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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