Learn From Music Industry

Researchers found that 65% of start-ups fail because of co-founder conflict (Ian Leslie 2018). It happens when people get together in business but are incompatible. For example, social friendship is not necessarily enough, especially in a high-pressure environment. There is a large attitudinal component to any organisational success and not playing to complimentary strengths can cause problems. Some areas for conflict (Michelle Duval 2018) include different

- communication styles (an example of 2 different styles is effective and neutral. Affective types are very emotive, open and use expressive language and physical gestures; neutral types speak with even tonality and stick with non-emotive language and facts)

- decision-making styles (an example of 2 different styles is initiative and reflection/patient. With initiative, there are quickfire decisions and working as you go; reflection/patient have a preference for carefully considering new ideas or decisions before proceeding)

How you handle these differences can be a real challenge and business can learn from the music industry, ie
"...how to make a group of talented people add up to more than the sum of its parts. And once you've done that, how to keep the band together..."
Ian Leslie 2018

It has 4 models, ie friends, autocracies, democracies and frenemies.

1. Friends (we can work it out)
Starting in the 1960s the Beatles were an example of this where friendship became central to the band's image, ie they
"...were presented to the world as a group of inseparable buddies. Their voices blended thrillingly. They cut their hair, dressed in the same style. They talked.....in synchrony..."
Ian Leslie 2018

Research has shown that staff who have friends at the office feel more motivated and generally happier in their job, ie feel better about coming to work and earn better performance evaluations. On the other hand, they felt
"...Depleted, overworked and lacking energy.....That was because of the emotional labour involved in reconciling the potential incompatible roles of co-worker and friend. When you have more close friends at work, professional conflicts become more emotionally punishing..."
Jessica Methot as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

Situations like having to inform a friend that they are taking a pay cut, being retrenched, were not successful in applying for a new position, etc.
"...the closer (co-workers) become, the more sensitive they are to what is happening at work. Betrayal is exponentially more severe..."
Jessica Methot as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

The most problematic one is a romantic relationship at work.

Business disagreements become personal.

2. Autocracies (I won't back down)
Despite the increasing popularity of flat decision-making structures in the business world, hierarchies are still everywhere, ie command and control.
In the music world, Bruce Springsteen believed that as he carried a workload and responsibility, he should have the power over his band the E Street Band; similarly with Tom Petty with his band the Heartbreakers.

In the business world, similar leaders like John Chambers (CEO of Cisco), Steve Jobs (Apple) were successful as autocratic business leaders. However, there have been some catastrophic failures with the top down approach like Fred Goodwin (CEO Royal Bank Of Scotland) who would tolerate no disagreements and micromanaged. The bank collapsed in 2008 and the British government had to bail it out.

3. Democracies (everybody hurts)
The band, R.E.M., was successful over 30+ years based on the following
"...They all had equal say. There was no pecking order. This was not majority rule: everybody had a vote, which meant everyone had to buy into every decision, business or art, thrash things out until they reached a consensus. And they said no a lot..."
Bertis Downs as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

Underpinning R.E.M.'s flat governance structure was an egalitarian economic one, ie equal sharing of all revenue, irrespective of contribution.

One of the reasons why democracies don't work in bands and organisations is egos, ie people wanting to dominate and/or believe that somebody is not doing their fair share and/or someone is incompetent."...The democratic model depends on individual members believing that each has the group's interests at heart, not just their own......They must exhibit confidence in each other......must also be a belief in each other's competence......It helps to have a shared vision of success......Each partner has a direct interest in keeping the band together..."
Ian Leslie 2018

4. Frenemies (it's only rock 'n' roll)
"...in bands that survive a long time, it is often an agreement to disagree......friendship was never as central to their image. When it comes down to it, they were there to work..."
Ian Leslie 2018

Bands like the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Wham, etc used this system. With the Rolling Stones, there was a clear division of responsibilities, eg Jagger, the lead singer, was like the CEO who looked after the business side; Keith Richards was the chief decision maker with Jagger; Brian Jones was the band's chief creative force; the other band members were like salaried employees who were consulted on major decisions. Band members were regularly moved in and out of the group, eg Brian Jones in 1969, Bill Wyman in 1993, etc
"...another reason the Stones have stayed together is they aren't afraid to fight - even if it happened at 3am in an Amsterdam hotel room..."
Ian Leslie 2018

"...every group has a threshold level of tension that represents its optimal level of conflict. Uncontrolled conflict can destroy the group, but without conflict, boredom and apathy set in..."
Ernest Bormann as quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

The Rolling Stones have stayed together while the Beatles split up after 7 years at the top. The Stones stopped being musical innovators at the end of the 1970s and have survived by exploiting their early innovations. This is a bit like Microsoft. The Beatles' short lifespan still represents one of the greatest canons of music.
"...their emotionally intense collaboration maximised their creative potential, but made the group fragile..."
Ian Leslie 2018

There is a trade-off between creativity and stability.
Usually in a group, the gains from collaboration are a trade-off against self-expression. Sometimes it can be the other way around, ie
"...a group can become united in spirit and each individual expresses themselves more fully than they would be able to by themselves......a super personal harmony prevails..."
Mary- Lousie von Franz As quoted by Ian Leslie 2018

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