The Band & The Wrecking Crew : It’s the TEAM stupid.


“..And there’ll be no safety in numbers, when the right one walks out of the door” – High Hopes by Pink Floyd on The Division Bell

A self proclaimed music fanatic, I tend to relate everything in life back to albums, songs and their lyrics. As a kid I used to look forward to getting hold of ‘Circus’ to read about my favourite bands. Reading about their ‘Why’ and ‘How’ they became ‘overnight’ success was fascinating. I tend to base my life’s philosophies on song titles and lyrics ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ !

Off late I’ve been watching a lot of Music Band biographies thanks to the onslaught of Netflix, Prime and other video streaming services as lockdown pass-time. I was intrigued by the stories I discovered of some of my favourite bands. Rush. Foo Fighters. Black Sabbath. Twisted Sister. Metallica. INXS. AC/DC. U2. Bon Jovi. Motley Crue. Grateful Dead. Queen.Led Zeppelin.

What was common in all the biographies was how the Bands made beautiful (eternal) music when the right members magically came together. Each one shared their journey of struggling with finding the right drummer, the right bassist, the right lead guitarist or even the right vocalist. Their struggle when one of their founding member or key member quit the band – and how they could never reclaim the past glory even after replacing him/her (the irreplaceable Bonzo closed Led’s chapter). Or, how some Bands have carried on for decades on the talent/larger-than-life-personna of one key member. The world is full of talented bands. What sets apart the successful Bands from one-hit or one-album wonder is the combined magic of the band-members. Looking at the ups-and-downs a Band goes through I couldn’t help myself from correlating it back to startups , founders , the fickle Unicorns and successful Organizations. Yep, here I go again (oh wait, that is a Whitesnake song) !

As I’ve gone through working with various teams, organisations and startup-ensembles , I couldn’t help but relate. I thought back to all the companies I knew, the startups that have been successful (failed or struggling). I could swear to you that I thought I was beginning to see the same pattern as that of a Band.

When magical teams come together with each player in the team performing their role to perfection – BEAUTIFUL music is made. Yes, there will always be a lead singer or a lead guitarist (or a star performer in a team), but the combined music from all members is what makes everyone great. In one of my first startups, the different team members had their own strengths and fit like a jigsaw puzzle. We took on the world and nearly won (don’t get me started on the dot-com crash of 2002). In another team at an MNC, there was a period of the jigsaw-fit again when the team that was put together was just amazing. We grew the company 100%+ yoy for many years, and had fun doing it. The team broke up eventually with a few leaving for other pastures. We had different people join those roles, but the magic was never created.  The band never came together again.

The best rock documentary I saw was of “The wrecking crew” on Netflix. This was about an unknown set of session players during the late 60s-80s who were expert Bassists, Rhythm Guitarists, Drummers and even vocalists. They’ve actually played on every music album released during that period. They remain relatively unknown as the bands they worked for (as paid experts) had a larger-than-life persona to carry the band-name through. Think of Beach Boys. John Mellancamp. Billy Joel. Elton John. the list goes on. These ‘silent’ operators come and do their job to perfection – making the difference between a successful and just another album. Again, in a team these are the super-operators who pay attention to details and just hack-away and getting shit done. It’s important to have these specialists on your team as well.

Lest I ramble on and give u my correlations of a startup journey to success and a band’s journey to stardom …..

……. As managers, leaders and startup founders – get your ‘band’ together but don’t forget about the ‘wrecking crew’.

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