Monday, June 25, 2007

Are the right people in your band?

Alas, no children, significant other, cell phone, email and for the next ten hours, no distractions. Although I fashion myself as somewhat of a homebody, I believe the intermittent business road trip is a healthy way to rejuvenate the psyche.
Throwing myself on a clean bed I grabbed the converter and settled in for a vegetative evening of meaningless television and started flicking through the channels. I landed on the series ‘behind the music’ featuring U2. U2 had become a favorite because they applied their skills to more than just music. They utilized their collective talents for a greater good and social consciousness.
As I watched the rise of U2 throughout the decades, I realized one blatant reason they became a success. They had engaged and worked to maintain the right people. Through their humble beginnings and their triumphs and tragedies they were able to weather the harshest of storms, the deepest of depressions and continue to define their own destinies because each made a personal decision to maximize their ability and not worry about anything else.
When the concert was announced in our city, the decision was unanimous and we couldn’t wait to see the magic. For myself the band and their music represented more than just great lyrics, they were a great success story. From a business parallel, U2’s concerts followed the gamut of what they were “supposed to be” by reflecting the times. From humble beginnings in pubs and taverns, to opening acts, headliners and the colossal & ostentatious shows of the early 90’s, it seemed the band and business had finally crested the tipping point where they focused less on the revenue and more on cause, (ironically generating much more revenue than they could ever imagine).
The live concert experience was empowering. It wasn’t good. It was great. The music was great, the message was great and the entertainment was great. I walked away from the evening with reinforcement that with the right people in any life dynamic, there was no reason any group representing anything could not be a success. After the right people are in place, the rest is consistency of implementation plus modifications divided by growth.
This seemingly simple equation is backed through mountains of post 90’s “empower everybody, money no object” literature from the likes of Jim Collins [Good to Great], Jack Welsh [Winning] and Brant Weisel [Capital Instincts] who write the success of any organization depends on having the right people first. Even before the vision. It has legendary merit through tales of Jim Pattison removing the least productive salesperson on the team each quarter because keeping that person did not benefit either party.

In each instance, these proven leaders confirm the right people;

1. Understand and embrace the vision of the band.
2. Do not need to be managed. [guided, but not managed].
3. Are comfortable and confident in their roles

In each instance, these proven leaders attribute the lack of staying power in bands comes from

1. The wrong people empowered into the wrong roles.
2. The wrong people remaining in the wrong roles.

The band analogy is not limited to the business parallel. It can be applied across a broad spectrum of family unit to sports team with unlimited examples to support the ideology. In no way does it infer we need to rush to rash decisions about those around us, rather, it simply suggests the key to continued success lies in surrounding yourself with those who are singing the same song.

Rock on!

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