- 29 years as a management consultant and trainer, working with Peter Senge, Fernando Flores, Werner Erhard and most recently Tom Peters.
- Author of management blog, "Business Lessons from Rock," applying the success qualities of top rock-and-roll bands to mainstream business teams.
- Clients have included: Anglo American, AT&T, Cisco Systems, Commerce Bank, Deloitte & Touche, DHL, Digital Equipment Corporation, Emerson & Cuming, Innovation Associates, Johnson & Johnson, Lincoln Financial Group, Lockheed Martin, MacMillan, Bloedel, Minorco, Pfizer, Schindler, TPI Composites, Teck, Tyler Equipment, US Army, Wellpoint/Anthem, Weyerhaeuser.
- As a musician, singer and songwriter for 18 years before launching business consulting career, shared the stage with more than two dozen Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members and more than 50 other famous rock, pop, blues, folk, or country artists.
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Call Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Session Summary Report
- Post-Session Engagement
In today’s workforce, too many employees report that their work is not creative or joyful, that they’re not encouraged to think for themselves or express dissenting views, that they’re not making a unique contribution or doing work that really matters.
Meanwhile, what’s required of our teams and organizations to succeed in a brutally competitive 21st Century marketplace is just the opposite: breakthrough innovation, passionate engagement, independent thinking, an ability to harness conflict, a clearly-defined brand identity, and a bold vision for high-impact work.
So where do we look for inspiration or guidance here? What teams have demonstrated real imagination, exuberant entrepreneurism, defiant self-determinism, a tolerance for creative discord, a pride in standing out from the pack, and a willingness to shoot for the moon?
Rock and roll bands! At least the great ones—who were, after all, small business teams. The most successful bands in every generation have exemplified these critical team success qualities.
For example, The Beatles were:
- Relentlessly innovative, forever pushing the creative envelope, spawning entire sub-genres of rock music in their wake, never standing still.
- Passionate and joyful, inspiring similar reactions in their audiences. They learned early that if you aren’t excited about what you’re doing you can’t expect others to be.
- Self-determined and free-spirited, taking their own path, confident that others would follow.
- Able to harness conflict and competition, by capitalizing on the creative differences between Lennon and McCartney to produce some of the most enduring music of the 20th Century.
- Focused on a strong brand identity, in sound AND look, that broke the mold for rock bands. Their uniquely distinct music and visual appearance (hairstyle and clothes) set them apart from the competition and influenced music and fashion for years.
- Driven by an audacious goal. “We’re going to be bigger than Elvis,” said John Lennon, while the band was still playing lunchtime concerts at the tiny Cavern Club in Liverpool.
These are some of the characteristics of great bands and great business teams. Here's a place to start for businesses that want engaged teams to create a stream of innovative hits in the marketplace:
- Give people a big game to play.
- Provide them the freedom to play it.
- Allow them to be creative.
- Promote fun and celebration.
- Encourage diversity and dissent, but provide the tools to manage it.
- Help them express their brand as individuals and teams.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Some portions of John O'Leary's Fostering Creative Teams - Business Lessons From Rock were previously published on his website, www.businesslessonsfromrock.com, or included in other writings by the author.