Monday, June 15, 2009

What Kind of Rock Band is Your Team?

Rock bands accomplish different things. The people and their personalities determine the structures and working arrangements. If the structure is right for the personalities involved, the band will probably be successful for a long time - think U2. If the structures and working relationships are not right - think The Police, it probably won't work, no matter how successful you are.

Does your team resemble any of these bands?

U2 - This band has one superstar and three supporting members. This is not to say that all members don't contribute, but one of them is a superstar and the other three are not. What is interesting is that the superstar has never shown an interest in leaving the team, working separately or conflicting with the team. Also, other members have never shown jealousy or resentment. What are the structures and working relationships necessary to keep the superstar and other team members happily engaged? Are you using them?

The Beatles - This band had two superstars and two supporting members. The competition delivered some amazing deliverables, but it also destroyed them. If you have a competitive group that produces great deliverables, maybe it's best to cultivate the competition, enjoy the outputs and move on when the gig is over.

The Chieftains - This group had no easily recognizable members, rotated people through and delivered the goods for 40 years. If you have a group that is founded around a good idea, consistently produces and has the structures to rotate personal for many years, maybe it's best to keep tuning the instruments and letting them make music.

The Police - This band grew to be the biggest band in the world and yet the members personal animosities were so great that they couldn't find a way to stay together. No matter how successful a group is, if the members can't get along there's nothing that can entice them to work together. Have you ever traded off relationships for success? I have and it didn't work for me either.

Jane's Addiction - This band got itself together, produced an amazing album and song and then fell apart. Much as people have tried to put them back together again and recapture the magic, maybe it's better to enjoy it for what it was, enjoy what they delivered and move on.

Most project teams I've been on resembled Jane's Addiction more than any other. They were good for what they were, accomplished what could be accomplished and never successfully got back together again. Maybe their biggest hit was prophetic: Been Caught Stealing

Whatever team you're putting together, do the structures and working relationships match the personalities and goals?


The Dan Ward said...

Gaelic Storm is another interesting example - they're an irish rock / folk / ??? band, with a few core members and a constantly changing collection of supporting musicians.

They're sort of a niche band. No real superstars. But they've had some fantastic success (played in the movie Titanic, for example), put out seven albums, and have toured aggressively since 1996.

Not a bad model...

Andrew Meyer said...


great suggestion. There are many examples, as a white boy from the mid-west, I picked the ones I knew best. One of the great things about blogging is getting the broader knowledge of others.