- 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.
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Fostering Creative Teams - Business Lessons From Rock
- The best-run companies want brand-savvy employees.
These companies expect new hires to enter the workforce with a sense of what they can uniquely contribute to their department. This is the "Brand You" message: You’re selling “You Inc.” and you need to be able to identify your “saleable distinction.”
Imagine you're a new hire. What if you found yourself in an elevator with the CEO of the company and she asks you, “Oh, so you’re new in finance. Tell me about yourself.” How would you convey in 25 seconds what’s unique about you and what you’re bringing to your job in the department?
Rock musicians are famous for this: developing their individual brands while also contributing to the brand of their larger team.
A good maxim for branding – whether it’s the brand of your product, your company, your team, or yourself: Different isn’t always better, but better is always different.
- Millennials want work that is personally fulfilling.
Many younger people in the workforce do not have a commitment to spend their career with one company. Cradle-to-grave security is neither offered nor expected. These workers are unlikely to stay in your company for the long haul – which need not be a problem if you’re prepared for it. But if these workers feel their work is uninteresting, unfulfilling, or “doesn’t make a difference,” they are likely to leave much sooner than expected.
As a consequence, managers today need to work more like “community organizers” – leading through influence and persuasion – and less like generals commanding the troops. Leaders of rock bands have always had to operate this way, given the authority-averse nature of most musical artists.
- The workforce worldwide is becoming less engaged.
Lack of engagement among employees is an alarming trend. According to a Gallup poll, only 13 percent of the workforce worldwide consider themselves "actively engaged" in their work. Sixty-three percent consider themselves "not engaged." And then there’s the remaining 24 percent that consider themselves "actively disengaged," which means that they are undermining your company and constitute a net minus in the workplace.
You want a workforce that is inspired, engaged, and mobilized by the work they are doing. High employee engagement is consistently correlated with organizational productivity and profitability. Meanwhile, you’ll never find a good rock band that isn’t highly engaged.
- It is not going to get any easier.
Business teams will have to operate in ways never before imagined, to address challenges and crises never before conceived.
Our enterprises must be:
- Cutting-edge problem solvers.
- Passionate in their work.
- Audaciously free-thinking.
- Offering unique value.
- Focused on big outcomes.
- Able to harness conflict and dissent.
Our economy – and much more – depends on it.
- Hierarchy and autocracy are governance models in decline.
Innovation in a command-and-control environment can’t compete with innovation that is increasingly becoming “open source.” Also, a freedom-based workforce, in which individuals and teams are willing to take charge and not wait for authority to be formally bestowed on them, is a more creative, agile, engaged and self-motivated workforce.
Meanwhile, traditional managers and supervisors need education and coaching to survive in the new organizational landscape, as they seek to practice a more facilitative style of leadership. In the words of Judy McGrath, former CEO of MTV, “The smartest thing we [as leaders] can do when confronted by something truly creative is to get out of the way.” She’s obviously been working with rock bands.